Southwest raising fee for third bag, adding charge for no-shows

Looking to increase revenue amid tough competition, Southwest Airlines has announced several fee changes, including higher charges for checking a third bag and for failing to cancel a ticket before missing a flight.

The Dallas-based airline — the nation’s largest passenger carrier — will continue to charge nothing for the first two checked bags and for changing a flight after buying a ticket.

The changes, announced Friday during an investors’ conference in New York, are expected to help the airline increase revenue from extra fees by $300 million annually. The changes are not expected to take effect until 2013.


The fees for a third bag and for overweight or oversize bags will rise to $75 from $50. The charge for an “early bird” check-in that lets passengers board early increases to $12.50 from $10. The airline has yet to outline the fee for failing to cancel a restricted ticket before missing a flight.

Southwest has long billed itself as the airline that doesn’t “nickel-and-dime” passengers with extra fees like many of its competitors. The world’s largest airlines are expected to collect $36.1 billion in passenger fees in 2012 — including charges to check bags, buy food and drinks and use onboard wireless Internet.

Southwest Chief Commercial Officer Bob Jordan said the “no-show” fee will generate revenue and give passengers an incentive to call the airline before missing a flight so that Southwest can resell those empty seats.

“So it’s a double win there,” he said during the investors’ conference. “We are still working through the changes but we have made the decision to do it.”