Southwest Airlines is known for not assigning seats for their flights. It does, however, have three tiers of passengers that it allows to board in order, with the last tier often left struggling to find seats that are not a middle position or two or more seats that are together. In 2014, the airline began offering customers a chance to pay for preferred boarding at a cost of $40 each way.
While this practice was not openly advertised, the airline followed up with this fee by offering a $30 option, in 2015, for some flights. Some people eagerly took advantage of the seating option while others ignored the extra fee.
Now Southwest has openly advertised their new tier of preferred boarding that will cost up to $50 each way for some markets. The airline has not stated what these destinations are at this time.
At this time, Southwest passengers are boarded in three groups: A, B, and C. Passengers are assigned their position within each of these groups based on several factors including their status as a frequent flyer, type of ticket purchased, their check-in time and if they purchased preferred boarding.
Southwest also allows passengers to purchase early check in positions for $15 each way. The EarlyBird check in does not guarantee which class, A, B, or C, you will be placed in, but it will move you forward in line. Last year, the airline netted over $358 million from this fee alone. The company has not released information at this time on much they have earned for upgraded boarding fees.