Southwest puts business travelers first

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Discount airline Southwest has introduced a new Business Select fare that is $10 to $30 higher each-way than its usual refundable fares but comes with a guarantee that the buyer will be among the first to board the plane. Frequent fliers will also get to jump to the front of the line.

Your chances of getting to board first have dropped dramatically—unless you buy this higher fare or you're a frequent flier.

The Business Select fare also comes with bonus frequent flier credits and a free cocktail.

While Southwest is not introducing a separate business class section, the airline's new program is yet another example in a trend of airlines offering shabbier service to budget-conscious leisure travelers. See the Budget Travel editor's letter, "Maybe We Should Charge Extra to Read This Page."

[Note: This post was revised for clarity on 11/9]

Update 11/8:More than 50 people have already commented on Southwest's own blog post on the changes.

EARLIERSouthwest knocked off, a company that would get you one of the "A" boarding passes if you paid it $5.

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