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Southwest third-party boarding pass site closes

Back in June, Managing Editor Josh Roberts wrote a blog post about Southwest suing BoardFirst, a website that would, for a fee, complete the online check-in process for passengers and ensure them a group A (the first boarding group) boarding pass.

BoardFirst initially refused to cease operations and said it would fight Southwest in court. Then, last month, a federal court in Texas issued a preliminary ruling in favor of Southwest (read more about it in USA Today or Forbes), and now BoardFirst has ceased operation.

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The most interesting twist comes at the end of the USA Today article, which states that Kate Bell, the founder of BoardFirst, "expects the airline to start charging for 'A' boarding passes itself." The article goes on to say, "The airline has said it is studying ways to boost revenue, and charging for premium seats has been mentioned by many analysts."

The mere possibility of this makes me shudder. Premium seats? Come on, is that what we're calling aisle and window seats now? I guess I shouldn't be so surprised, since that's exactly what Northwest started doing last year. Charging for first-boarding rights undermines Southwest's two main selling points: specifically single-class cabins and straightforward low fares.

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