Southwest adds a $10 fee for early checkin

Southwest has made a meal of other airlines' fees. using them as a key component of its marketing to tell customers the carrier isn't like the other guys. But financial pressure is forcing Southwest to find extra revenue and today it announced a fee that bears some similarity to others airlines' charges. For $10 you can be an "early bird," automatically checked in on a Southwest flight ahead of the usual 24-hour period.

By being in this new, more privileged boarding group, customers have  better shot at sitting where they want in a Southwest cabin where all seats are unreserved. This doesn't seem a lot different than other carriers charging something -- usually more than $10 -- to reserve certain seats on their planes. One news story has popped up on Southwest's move, and here's more information from its Web site.