TEXAS-Southwest Airlines (WN) occupies a distinct position within the airline industry, offering value as a core component of its proposition. Southwest provides additional benefits with its ticket purchases.
When you book a Southwest ticket, you secure a boarding position (given the airline’s absence of seat assignments) and enjoy the convenience of up to two checked bags, along with a carry-on and personal item, all without incurring extra fees.
In reality, one could contend that Southwest Airlines provides a superior deal compared to the so-called full-fare carriers—United, Delta, and American Airlines—thanks to its absence of fees.
While Southwest does charge for internet and alcohol, it includes soda, water, coffee, tea, and select beverages. In line with its competitors, the airline also features a loyalty program and a branded credit card.
Both programs focus on complimentary flights and enhancing the overall flight experience. Unlike Delta, United, and American, Southwest currently doesn’t grant its credit card holders or top-tier loyalty members access to airport lounges.
However, this dynamic may shift soon, even if Southwest decides against constructing its airport lounges.
Southwest New Perk
Major airlines such as United, Delta, and American operate lounges at most major airports, each with varying access rules. Typically, top-tier loyalty program members and those holding branded credit cards can enter these lounges within 3 hours of a flight departing from that airport.
These lounges are predominantly designed for departing flights, limiting usage upon arrival unless there is another flight segment.
The amenities provided in these spaces can differ significantly, but commonly include food, a complimentary bar, coffee service, ample seating, clean restroom facilities, and numerous outlets for device charging.
Some lounges may go a step further by offering private showers, providing guests with the opportunity to freshen up on extended travel days.
Generally, a valid ticket for that airline on the day of use is required to access an airline’s lounge. This implies that a loyal passenger of Delta, United, or American Airlines (AA), flying with Southwest on a given day, cannot avail themselves of this perk.
While Southwest currently has no intentions of constructing its own lounges, the airline is in the experimental phase of a program. This initiative aims to grant access to airport lounges for its most loyal customers and credit card holders through a strategic partnership with Priority Pass
Southwest Priority Pass
A Priority Pass card provides customers with access to lounges and various perks at airports worldwide. The company offers three tiers of cards, including a basic membership for reduced fees at non-airline-run airport lounges, and two premium tiers with either 10 free visits or unlimited visits.
American Express Platinum cardholders receive Priority Pass as a perk, as do holders of select premium credit cards. Beyond lounge access, Priority Pass also offers discounts at airport restaurants, spas, and occasionally other venues.
Southwest has initiated a trial by offering select top-tier customers complimentary Priority Pass membership for a year, allowing them and two guests per visit access to the Priority Pass lounge network, as per a memo sent to TheStreet.
“Starting Nov. 22, we’ll be surprising and delighting a select group of customers with a complimentary Priority Pass membership for a year, which will allow them and two guests per visit access to the Priority Pass lounge network,” the airline shared.
For this perk, Southwest would be paying Priority Pass a fee for each instance a passenger utilizes a lounge.
“Pre-pandemic, lounges and airport restaurants affiliated with Priority Pass were receiving approximately $24 per card swipe,” as reported by View From the Wing. “…While Priority Pass pays less than that, it still represents a significant cost for each instance a customer utilizes their Priority Pass.”
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