Southwest Airlines' Free Bag Policy Under Pressure After Elliott's $1.9B Stake - Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV)

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Southwest Airlines Co. LUV faces pivotal decisions regarding its distinctive “bags fly free” policy as Elliott Investment Management, having recently acquired a $1.9 billion stake, advocates for strategic changes.

The said policy allows passengers to check two bags free of charge, a unique offer among U.S. airlines.

The debate on whether to introduce fees for checked bags is intensifying, especially as the airline contemplates other modifications to its business model, such as assigned seating or premium services, reported Bloomberg.

On Monday, Elliott sent a letter to Southwest’s Board of Directors criticizing the company’s outdated strategies.

While other carriers have embraced additional revenue streams like baggage fees, Southwest has remained an outlier, sacrificing potential earnings for customer loyalty.

The report cited industry experts that carriers collected $33.3 billion globally from baggage fees last year, a significant increase from the previous year, highlighting the financial impact of such charges.

However, altering this policy could risk alienating Southwest’s loyal customer base, which values the airline’s baggage policy.

Related Read: Boeing Close To Securing Major 737 Max Order From Israel’s El Al: Report

Despite not charging for the first two bags, Southwest levies fees for additional, oversized, or overweight baggage, generating $73 million last year.

In contrast, competitors like American Airlines Group Inc. AAL and United Airlines Holdings Inc. UAL earned substantially more from baggage fees.

Southwest’s CEO, Bob Jordan, reinforced the company’s commitment to no bag fees in a recent earnings call, citing a survey that found a significant portion of customers choose Southwest for this reason.

This sentiment was echoed in the company’s statement, which referred to the free bag policy as a core aspect of its value proposition.

The pressure from Elliott might lead to compromises, such as reducing the number of free bags or tying them to other purchases like premium seats.

Related: Southwest Airlines May Ditch ‘Open Seating’ To Make More Money From ‘Premium Seating’ Options

Price Action: LUV shares are trading higher by 0.53% at $28.20 premarket at the last check Wednesday.

Disclaimer: This content was partially produced with the help of AI tools and was reviewed and published by Benzinga editors.

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Article source: https://airlines.einnews.com/article/719372161/ONxBmWMKtc6KSH4G?ref=rss&ecode=vaZAu9rk30b8KC5H

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