Name a scenario in which you are penanlised for changing your mind. I can only think of two. Flights (other than on Southwest) and pre-paid hotels, which typically have a no refund/no change policy. Maybe a restocking fee on an item you have to return.
Anything else? You’re not penalised when you change a regular hotel booking. Or rental car booking. Restaurant reservation. Dental appointment.
I can understand if an airline wanted to charge you a fee for cancelling. They thought they had it sold. Now they don’t. But if I’m changing my flight, I’m still doing business with you… and I may end up paying MORE based on what new flight I choose. I certainly won’t pay less. If I start off with a $300 flight and change to a $200 flight, I know I’m not getting a refund.
So why charger the fee at all? The fee makes me hesitant to buy the flight… which makes me possibly not book the travel at all. Or I book it on Southwest knowing that if my plans change, I’m not penalised. Why is Southwest special? What are they doing that other carriers can’t do? I could book on Virgin today, but if I have to change, it’s $75 plus any increase in the ticket price. Or I can book on Southwest now, and know that a change is not a problem. Which would you choose?