Southwest customers will soon be facing higher fares. The budget carrier is raising prices in an attempt to keep up with rising operational costs. There’s no doubt that 2019 will see higher ticket prices. However, Southwest has already increased close to 90,000 fares. That means that getting to your holiday destination this year could cost you more if you book with Southwest. How much more can Southwest customers expect to pay as we head into the holiday travel season? The increases that have taken place so far add up to between $2 and $5 for each one-way ticket.
What are the clues that more price increases are coming for Southwest customers in 2019? The first clue is that the airline industry in general is searching for ways to raise revenues in the face of rising fuel costs and increasing operational costs.
All of the major carriers in the United States had already raised baggage fees by the end of fall. Southwest was the only airline to maintain its policy of allowing bags to fly for free. That’s probably why the airline is now being forced to raise fares. The silver lining is that paying a few dollars more for a ticket is still going to be cheaper than paying the fee for a checked bag that you’d be stuck with if you flew with one of the major carriers in the country.
The other big clue that Southwest’s rates are set to rise quite a bit in 2019 is that the company’s CEO has said as much. CEO Gary Kelly recently told the press that Southwest is currently in the process of working out its budget for 2019. There is a big focus on increasing revenue and improving efficiency. Anyone who is familiar with “airline speak” already knows that words like that typically mean that the airline intends to cut perks and raise prices. Kelly has been quick to assure the press that Southwest is not facing any kind of crisis. However, Southwest is still forecasting the need to raise the cost for each seat by at least 3 percent during 2019.
Where is Southwest planning to spend that extra 3 percent per seat during 2019? The airline is investing in technology upgrades across its operations. Money is being poured into new planes, enhanced airport facilities and new technology. In addition, Southwest is investing in efforts that boost efficiency across the board when it comes to flight operations and crew scheduling. These efficiency-boosting measures are being put into place to address delays and hassles caused by weather and other disruptions. Of course, these are all behind-the-scenes measures that customers won’t encounter. It’s likely that passengers won’t actually see the fruits of their extra 3 percent in any meaningful way when all is said and done.