Starting from November 15, Southwest Airlines has increased the prices of alcoholic beverages for the holiday season. The cost of beer has risen from $6 to $7, while wine has increased to $8 instead of $6, and other drinks now cost $9 instead of $7.
The airline has justified the price hikes by claiming that they align with market rates within the industry. Additionally, they have reminded travelers that they can always opt for non-alcoholic beverages like water, coffee, tea, soda, and juice free of charge, but only on flights longer than 175 miles.
The decision to increase beverage prices follows a review of Southwest’s pricing strategies. “Southwest last adjusted pricing for onboard beverages in 2018 and recently reviewed our position as we work to keep fares low while offering our customers unmatched flexibility,” Tiffany Valdez, an airline spokesperson, said in a statement to USA TODAY.
“Upon review, we made the decision to implement a modest change to the pricing of our alcoholic beverages, which went into effect starting November 15.”
New Rapid Rewards Perks
The low-cost carrier recently lowered the requirements for entry to its Rapid Rewards program and added several perks for members, including two complementary premium drink vouchers on every flight. These vouchers are automatically loaded into the customer’s account and can be accessed through Southwest’s app.
The airline reintroduced alcohol on its flights in early 2022 after halting its drinks menu in March 2020 due to the pandemic. The company hiked alcohol prices for the first time since 2018, indicating businesses’ increased running costs amid the economic uncertainty of 2023. However, these price hikes come when inflation in the U.S. is slowing, with the rate remaining unchanged from October to November.
Despite demand for travel returning to pre-pandemic levels, the Labor Department’s report on Tuesday listed travel as one of the services where prices continue to outstrip pre-2020 levels—mainly due to higher labor costs.
While the rising prices of its drinks won’t lift too many people’s spirits, Southwest Airlines hopes some of its new hospitality benefits will soften the blow.
The airline has revamped its Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft with new seats, a comfortable 32-inch seat pitch, and adjustable headrests and armrests.
In addition, the airline has launched a new baggage tracking tool that allows passengers to track the location of their checked bags in real-time. The tool also provides updates on the movement of the bags during loading and unloading from the plane.
In a statement, Southwest Airlines expressed its commitment to enhancing the customer experience by delivering nonstop Southwest Hospitality.