Does Southwest Have First Class? Business Select Explained

TL;DR: The short answer is no, Southwest doesn’t have a traditional First Class offering. Instead, Southwest has “Business Select” which I’ll explain in this article.

Here’s some background on the closest thing Southwest has to “first class”…

What Exactly is Southwest’s Business Select?

Southwest Airlines, renowned for its budget-friendly fares and high-quality service, doesn’t offer a conventional first-class cabin.

Instead, they provide a unique fare option known as Business Select. This is essentially Southwest’s premium ticket that grants travelers access to a host of advantages, making their journey more comfortable and rewarding.

However, if you’re expecting extra roomy seats or additional privacy akin to traditional first-class perks, you might be disappointed. Southwest’s Business Select doesn’t include dedicated seats or enhanced in-flight service. Rather, the perks are more about convenience and rewarding the customer’s loyalty.

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Perks of Southwest Business Select: A Detailed Look

So, what does Business Select bring to your travel table? Here’s a comprehensive list of the benefits you can enjoy when you upgrade to this fare.

Guaranteed A1-A15 Boarding

One of the most attractive perks of Business Select is the guaranteed boarding in positions A1-A15. As Southwest follows an unassigned seating policy, an early boarding position means you get the first pick from all the available seats. So, if you fancy a window seat or need extra legroom, this perk ensures you get to choose your preferred seat.

Rapid Rewards Points

If you’re a Rapid Rewards member, Business Select adds more value to your fare. You’ll earn 12 points per dollar spent on the Business Select fare, which is significantly higher than the 10x, 8x or 6x points earned for mid- and low-level fares.

These points can be accumulated and redeemed for future travel, making it a lucrative deal for regular flyers.

Full Cash Refunds

Unlike the Wanna Get Away or Wanna Get Away Plus fares where cancellations only get you a travel credit for future Southwest purchases, Business Select fares are eligible for full cash refunds. This offers greater flexibility and ease for travelers who might need to change their travel plans at the last moment.

Fly By Priority Lane Access

With Business Select, you also get Fly By priority lane access. This feature enables you to reach the front of the ticket counter faster, saving you time during check-in. Additionally, Business Select passengers can use the Fly By security lane at select airports, providing faster access to security checkpoints.

Complimentary Premium Drink

To enhance your in-flight experience, Business Select tickets come with one complimentary premium drink. You can choose from a variety of beverages including margaritas, gin and tonics, mimosas, and seasonal beers.

Free Same-Day Change and Standby Tickets

Business Select fares are eligible for same-day change and same-day standby tickets. If there’s an open seat on a different flight on the same date as your original flight and it’s between the same cities, you can switch to that flight.

Standard Southwest Perks

On top of these exclusive benefits, Business Select passengers also enjoy the standard Southwest perks. This includes two free checked bags (weight and size limits apply), no change fees and the option to use 100% of your ticket as reusable funds for future travel after canceling.

Are Southwest Business Select seats bigger?

No, Southwest Business Select doesn’t offer dedicated seats or extra seat room.

All seats on Southwest are the same size. However, with Business Select, you are among the first to board, giving you the first pick from all available seats.

Southwest Business Select: Is it Worth it?

The value of Southwest’s Business Select heavily depends on how much you value the perks it offers. For travelers who prioritize boarding position, flexibility in cancellations and changes, and additional Rapid Rewards points, the extra cost might seem justifiable.

However, it’s essential to remember that upgrading to Business Select doesn’t provide any luxury seating or superior in-flight service. The seat size and comfort remain the same as the standard fare. So, if you’re seeking a true first-class experience with a plush seat and a dedicated flight attendant, you might want to reconsider upgrading. The extra cost could be better spent on flying first class with another airline.

Southwest Business Select vs Wanna Get Away Fares

When comparing Southwest’s most expensive fare class with its most affordable one, there’s a considerable difference in cost.

For instance, a Business Select fare can often be multiple times more expensive than Wanna Get Away or Wanna Get Away Plus fares. However, it’s crucial to factor in the additional benefits and flexibility that come with Business Select.

While the Wanna Get Away fares offer the cheapest rates, they lack the flexibility, extra rewards points, and priority boarding that come with Business Select. In contrast, Business Select fares provide a more comprehensive package that caters to travelers seeking convenience, flexibility, and added value for their money.

Here’s how Southwest Business Select compares to Wanna Get Away at a glance:

FeaturesSouthwest Business SelectWanna Get Away Fares
PricingMost expensive fare typeUsually much cheaper than Business Select
BoardingGuaranteed A1-A15 boardingBoarding based on check-in time
Airport ExperienceFly By lane access for quicker check-in and securityStandard check-in and security process
Complimentary Premium DrinkYesNo
Rapid RewardsEarn 12 Rapid Rewards per dollar spentEarn fewer Rapid Rewards compared to Business Select
RefundabilityFully refundable fareNon-refundable, but can be applied towards future travel on Southwest Airlines
Same Day Changes and StandbyFree same day changes and standbyCharges may apply for same day changes and standby
Seat SelectionAdvantage of choosing preferred seat earlySeat selection based on check-in time
As you can see, Business Select has some subtle perks, but the in-flight experience is mainly just a free drink and seat selection.

Southwest Business Select vs Anytime Fares

Comparing Southwest Business Select and Anytime fares, the former generally costs about 11.5% more on average.

However, for a relatively small ticket price increase, you’ll get priority boarding, Fly By access, and a complimentary premium drink.

The increased Rapid Rewards points might justify the price increase alone as the points earned can be used for future travel, making the upgrade more cost-effective in the long run.

Here’s how Southwest Business Select compares to Anytime fares at a glance:

FeaturesSouthwest Business SelectAnytime Fares
PricingMost expensive fare type offered by Southwest AirlinesTypically cheaper than Business Select, but more expensive than Wanna Get Away fares
Boarding ProcessGuaranteed A1-A15 boarding, access to expedited check-in and security linesStandard boarding process, position depends on check-in time
Airport ExperienceAccess to priority lanes and express lanesStandard airport experience
Complimentary Premium DrinkFree premium drink No
Rapid Rewards12 Rapid Rewards points per dollar spentStandard Rapid Rewards points earning rate, less than Business Select
RefundabilityFully refundable fareRefundable fare
Same Day Changes and StandbyFree same day changes and standbyFree same day changes and standby
Seat SelectionBetter chance of getting desirable seating options due to higher boarding positionSeat availability depends on check-in time, can still secure good seats by checking in at the 24-hour mark

Booking Southwest Business Select

Southwest doesn’t allow travel websites like Orbitz or Kayak to publish its fares. You’ll have to book directly on Southwest’s website or by calling a Southwest travel agent.

When booking a flight on Southwest’s website, you can filter by nonstop flight options, your preferred travel time, and even toggle between different days to compare prices. Once you’ve selected the perfect flight, opt for the Business Select fare to add all the exclusive perks to your travel experience.

The Final Word On Business Select

Southwest’s Business Select fare may not offer the traditional first-class experience, but it does bring several handy perks to the table.

For those who value convenience, extra rewards, and flexibility, upgrading to Business Select can certainly enhance their Southwest flying experience.

However, if you’re seeking the luxury of first-class seating and service, it might be better to stick with the more affordable Wanna Get Away fares or consider other airlines offering first-class services.

Additional Reading on Southwest

Here are some additional related resources you may be interested in: