Southwest Airlines hiking fees for early check-ins, upgraded boarding as high as $149 if you want a better seat

Southwest Airlines has upped the price range of certain travel options that allow passengers to board their planes fast and get a choice on the seat.

The carrier quietly increased the cost of upgraded boarding services and early check-ins as the struggling airline grapples with travelers abusing its boarding policies.

Upgraded Boarding now comes in at $30 to $149 per passenger per segment up from an $80 cap, according to new changes on Southwests optional travel charges page.

Per Southwests open boarding policy, passengers are able to choose their own seats based on availability when they board, meaning those who get on the plane first will have more seating options, Fox Business reported. Passengers with disabilities are typically the first to be seated.

Those who pay for upgraded boarding are assigned to the front of the plane, from A1 to A15 in Group A but upgrades are only available 24 hours ahead of the flight, according to the airline. 

Families with children board next, followed by Groups B and C. Theres about 60 seats in each group, according to Fox.

Additionally, the EarlyBird Check-In for one-way passengers now ranges from $15 to $99, the new price chart shows. This option, which must be purchased within 36 hours of departure, bumps passengers ahead in line for boarding.

This price range increase is a result of our regular evaluation of pricing for ancillary products based on market trends and customer demand and will generate incremental revenue in support of the company, Southwest told Fox News in a statement.

Customers have been abusing the airlines lax boarding policy, with some lying about disabilities in order to get first dibs on seats. Because airlines can only pry so far into peoples personal situations, its difficult to prove that someone is preboarding under false pretenses.

For the first time in years, theres been discussion of implementing assigned seats, something that would perhaps lure new customers at a time when profits are down.

Just weeks ago, Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan said that the carrier is considering changing the boarding and seating processes on its planes in order to increase profits.

The struggling airline has already announced plans to cease operations atf several major travel hubs, including, Houstons George Bush Intercontinental Airport, the Bellingham International Airport in Washington, the Cozumel International Airport in Mexico and the Syracuse Hancock International Airport in New York. 

In another cost-cutting move, Southwest is limiting hiring and is expected to end this year with 2,000 fewer employees than 2023, according to Fox.