What You Need to Know to Upgrade a Southwest Flight

You can upgrade your Southwest fare or purchase certain services a la carte.
Feb 9, 2022

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Your traveling experience can vary greatly depending on the airline you fly with and the ticket class you purchase. There are many factors to consider when preparing for your next trip. If you plan to fly with Southwest Airlines soon, you may be wondering if it’s worth it to upgrade a Southwest flight and what benefits might come with an upgraded ticket. Here’s what you need to know to upgrade a Southwest flight.

What does a flight upgrade with Southwest Airlines mean?

Southwest has three fare types:

  1. Wanna Get Away.

  2. Anytime.

  3. Business Select.

An important thing to remember when considering an upgrade with Southwest is that the airline doesn't offer a genuine business or first class ticket like other airlines. With an upgrade you will get added perks, but you won’t get a more comfortable seat. That’s because all passengers fly in the same kind of seat, regardless of fare.

You should also know that Southwest doesn’t assign seats. Instead, you’ll be assigned a boarding position (A, B or C) and a number (1 through 60) at check-in, and your position will determine how quickly you can board the plane to choose your seat.

While Southwest handles seating and boarding differently than other airlines, a Southwest ticket upgrade does offer some special benefits. Southwest’s highest ticket class is called Business Select. When available, you can upgrade your Wanna Get Away fare or Anytime fare ticket to Business Select and get the perks that come with it.

With a Business Select ticket:

  • You’ll earn 12 Rapid Rewards points per dollar.

  • Your ticket is fully refundable if you cancel at least 10 minutes before the scheduled departure.

  • When available, you’ll be eligible for same-day change and same-day standby benefits.

  • You’ll be eligible for priority check-in and priority security lanes when available.

  • You’ll get priority boarding (A1 through A15).

  • You’ll get a complimentary premium beverage (currently unavailable during the pandemic — you’ll receive a drink coupon valid for a future flight).

Is a Southwest Airlines upgrade worth it?

Whether a Southwest Airlines upgrade is worthwhile depends on what is important to you. If the benefits that come with a Business Select ticket are attractive to you, it may make sense to pay to upgrade your ticket.

Who should do it? A ticket upgrade may make sense if any of the following are true:

  • You like the idea of boarding the plane quickly so you can choose your preferred seat and are guaranteed an A1 through A15 boarding position.

  • You want to maximize the Rapid Rewards points that you earn. You’ll earn 12 points per dollar with a Business Select ticket compared to 10 points per dollar for Anytime tickets or 6 points per dollar for Wanna Get Away tickets.

  • When available, you want to be eligible for same-day change and same-day standby benefits. Business Select fare tickets qualify for these perks.

  • You want to be eligible for priority check-in and priority security lane perks when available.

  • You want your ticket to be truly refundable. Wanna Get Away fare tickets are eligible only for travel credit, which expires one year from the original ticket purchase date. Business Select tickets qualify for a refund if you cancel at least 10 minutes before departure.

Ask yourself what type of travel experience you want to have and if you’re willing to pay a higher price for your next Southwest Airlines ticket. If so, you may want to consider an upgrade.

How do you upgrade a Southwest flight?

Upgrading your Southwest Airlines ticket is easy because it provides a ticket upgrade tool. Visit southwest.com/air/upgrade and enter the details of your flight, including your first and last name and flight confirmation number. Southwest will walk you through the upgrade process if an upgrade is available.

How much does a Southwest flight upgrade cost?

The cost to upgrade to a Southwest Business Select fare varies. You’ll be shown the price to upgrade before completing the upgrade process.

Since Wanna Get Away is Southwest’s most affordable fare, you can expect to pay significantly more than the original cost of a Wanna Get Away ticket. If you originally purchased an Anytime fare ticket, you’ll be paying more than that as well.

If you previously purchased a Wanna Get Away fare or Anytime fare ticket and choose to upgrade to a Business Select ticket, you won’t pay change fees. You will simply pay the difference in fare.

Alternatives to a Southwest flight upgrade

If you don’t care about earning additional Southwest Rapid Rewards points or the other perks that come with the Business Select fare, there are alternative types of upgrades available:

  • You can pay extra for Southwest’s Upgraded Boarding service. If available, this service will give you an A1 to A15 boarding position, which allows you to get on the plane much sooner. Pricing for this service varies but generally costs $30 to $50 per person, each way. Ask an agent at the departure gate or ticket counter to see if boarding upgrades are available.

  • You can purchase EarlyBird Check-In. Pricing varies, but you can expect to pay $15 to $25 per person, each way. You won’t have to worry about rushing to check in for your flight when you do this. Instead, Southwest will automatically check you in within 36 hours of your flight’s departure. You won’t be guaranteed an A boarding position, but it will improve your seat selection options and help you board the plane sooner than the general public. To purchase EarlyBird Check-In, visit southwest.com/early-bird.

Nerdy tip: Remember all Southwest Airlines fare types include two free checked bags as a perk. 

What credit cards include upgrades?

If you have a Southwest Airlines credit card or plan to apply for one soon, you should know that these cards come with extra benefits to improve your flying experience. Wondering which credit cards include upgrades? While no Southwest credit card offers free ticket upgrades, they do offer other helpful perks that may help you board the plane sooner.

The following Southwest credit cards include upgraded boardings:

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: Reimbursement for up to four Upgraded Boardings available at each card anniversary.

Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card: Reimbursement for up to four Upgraded Boardings available at each card anniversary.

The following Southwest credit cards offer EarlyBird Check-In perks:

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card: Reimbursement for up to two EarlyBird Check-In services available at each card anniversary.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card: Reimbursement for up to two EarlyBird Check-In services available at each card anniversary.

Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card: Reimbursement for up to two EarlyBird Check-In services available at each card anniversary.

The bottom line

Now you know how to upgrade a Southwest flight. If you want to upgrade your flight experience with Southwest, you may want to spend more on a Southwest Airlines upgrade ticket. If you don’t want to pay extra for a ticket upgrade, other services like Upgraded Boarding and EarlyBird Check-In are available for purchase, which may improve your boarding experience.


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You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:

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