Southwest fliers can board early -- for $40

Southwest Airlines, famed for open seating and mass boarding, revealed this week that fliers can pay $40 each flight for a priority slot in boarding group "A".

Southwest will sell unsold A1-15 boarding group spaces at the gate 45 minutes before departure. Credit cards will allow passengers to

 buy early boarding spots. In December, the airline tested the program in San Diego and received favorable response.

“We have continued to look for ways to increase revenues in challenging economic times by offering optional services for which

 there are optional service charges,” said Southwest spokesperson Brad Hawkins. “These do not punish other customers.”

Southwest "has arrived late to the airline industry's ancillary revenue gouge-fest" with $40 per-segment access "to its otherwise signature

The boarding option may not suit all people. "In many markets a customer would be better off buying up in the fare structure to

 Business Select, which also conveys in-flight amenities and extra Rapid Rewards frequent flier credit," said Mann.

“This just confirms my decision to avoid Southwest,” said author and education technology consultant Susan Brooks-Young, who flies over 150,000 miles year.

She never liked Southwest's unassigned seating policy, but she flew with them because it was cheap and they didn't charge for checked bags.

check our new stories