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Start seating no more? Southwest CEO says airline is weighing cabin changes

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 plane lands at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, on Can even merely 7, 2023.

Nicolas Economou | Nurphoto | Getty Photographs

Southwest Airlines is pondering changes to its single-class, commence-seating cabins to power up revenue, CEO Bob Jordan advised CNBC on Thursday, a shift that can also very neatly be among the many largest in the airline’s history.

“We’re having a scrutinize into current initiatives, issues cherish the trend we seat and board our plane,” Jordan stated in an interview after the provider’s disappointing first-quarter file.

Southwest’s all-Boeing 737 rapidly has a single economy class cabin and no seating assignments, even though it does offer earlier boarding for a fee so customers can snag their most traditional seats. The airline has concerned in maintaining its product straightforward and consumer-friendly for years, aiming to withhold its delight in charges and complexity to a minimal.

Meanwhile, opponents including Delta and United grasp touted excessive revenue improve for premium seating much like change class and strong upsell charges.

Analysts grasp repeatedly requested Southwest about opportunities for premium seating or additional charges. (The airline would now not fee travelers for their first two checked bags.)

Most U.S. airlines fee travelers to determine many of its seats in near, even folks who don’t contain additional legroom. Eight U.S. carriers — Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Spirit and United — together brought in $4.2 billion from seating charges in their domestic networks in 2022, essentially based on Jay Sorensen, an airline ancillary revenue expert at IdeaWorksCompany.

Jordan stated no choices grasp been made on what roughly changes Southwest will in the raze originate, but he stated reports grasp yielded “intriguing” results.

“Customer preferences attain change over time,” Jordan stated.

While well-known capabilities had been scarce all the scheme via Southwest’s earnings call, when requested whether Southwest would withhold in mind a separated cabin on its planes, Ryan Inexperienced, the provider’s chief industrial officer stated: “Curtains and issues cherish which are rather a long way afield from what Southwest Airlines is.”

Inexperienced added that the provider will not be any longer pondering charging for checked bags because “folks decide Southwest Airlines because we save no longer need procure charges.”

— CNBC’s Phil LeBeau contributed to this file.

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