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Southwest Sells Early Boarding for $40 Each Way

Southwest customers can now pay to be among the first to board their flights. The new early boarding option will be available beginning 45 minutes prior to the flight departure time, if there are still spots available in the airline's "A" boarding group. Others entitled to "A" boarding include those who have paid $10 for EarlyBird Check-In and those who have purchased Southwest's pricey Business Select fares.

The price: $40 per flight. Southwest tested the new boarding option in San Diego and reportedly received "positive" feedback.

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Deal or No Deal

There's no benchmark against which the new fee can be measured and evaluated, but charging $40 just to get an earlier start in Southwest's first-come-first-served boarding scrum seems cruelly unreasonable. That assessment will be reality-tested as travelers vote with their wallets.

More generally, it's disconcerting to see the airline that boasts "Bags Fly Free" succumb to the nickel-and-diming that has become commonplace at other airlines.

Reader Reality Check

Would you pay $40 to board a Southwest flight earlier?

Does the new move strike you as an unfortunate departure from Southwest's roots as the "people's airline"?

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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