Travel demand and fares typically tumble during the slower fall and winter months, and this year is no exception– we saw some remarkably low fares from United last week, and as expected, there’s more to come…
Today, Southwest Airlines kicked off the first big late fall and winter fare sale, and I expect other airlines to start matching these low fares in the next 24-48 hours. (see below for links)
So if you felt priced out of peak summer season, take a look at what Southwest has on offer during the “dead weeks” between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and into the cold, dark early winter months.
Southwest kicked it off today with with fares starting at $100 roundtrip. From there, roundtrip fares rise in several steps to around $260-$280. Many of these fares are about $30-40 cheaper than a similar sale Southwest offered in October 2016– good evidence that fares are trending downward.
While these fares are slightly higher than those we’ve seen in previous un-announced spot sales, what’s better about this is the big window for travel, which extends all the way through the end of February.
UPDATE: Several readers report finding even lower fares than the ones publicized by Southwest, so be sure to check around.
Sample approximate round trip fares include:
$100: All intra-California and CA-Las Vegas flights, Atlanta-Chicago, Raleigh or Richmond; Washington DC-Boston
$160: SFO/OAK/LAX-Denver, Atlanta-most cities in Florida, New York LGA-Chicago,
$185: SFO/OAK/LAX to Dallas or Denver; Atlanta-Boston, Chicago, Dallas or New York
$240: Houston-Phoenix, Atlanta-Los Angeles/Las Vegas; Denver-Atlanta; New York to Chicago or New Orleans; SFO/OAK-Chicago
$280: Most transcon flights between New York, Baltimore, Atlanta or Boston and LAX, SFO/OAK, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle
There are also several good deals on flights to Mexico in the $200-$250 round trip range.
Expect other major airlines to match these low fares over the next 24 hours. (We’ll update this page with competitive matches as they roll out…see below). Keep in mind that even with matches, Southwest’s fares are cheaper if you plan on checking baggage- it offers two bags for free.
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This sale is good for flights during what’s known in the biz as the “dead weeks” when travel demand plummets to annual lows– this means that hotel and car rental costs are also at annual lows, so it’s a great time to take a cheap trip. It’s also a good time to get home and see the family if pricey peak holiday season fares keep you grounded.
For business travelers who have not been able to get out and see clients due to this year’s high fares, this is a great opportunity save by traveling when most folks are staying at home. You can take off for a quick visit just before Christmas or drop by during the cold dark months of January and February.
Details of Southwest’s 72-hour sale:
>Must buy your tickets between now and Thursday, October 12 at 11:59 p.m. (in originating city).
>Travel windows: October 31-December 19; January 3-February 14, 2018
>Not available on Fridays or Sundays (bummer for business travelers or weekenders)
>Black out dates: Christmas/New Years peak season from December 20- January 3
>Very limited time: Only a handful of seats on each flight are on sale- you snooze, you lose.
>See Southwest website for other rules and restrictions, or to book trips.
Stay tuned for UPDATES: Airlines matching this sale so far include: Alaska Air, Delta, United (with slightly higher fares), JetBlue added a deeply discounted 24 hour sale good for late Oct/Early Nov trips only.
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