Southwest Airlines unveiled a broad sale with one-way fares as low as $49 on its shorter routes. Nearly all of Southwest's destinations on sale, with the carrier saying it will set fares on most nonstop routes at one of four prices: $49, $99, $129 and $149.
But to get the deals, bargain seekers must act quickly -- and navigate some fine print.
The sale runs just three days, ending Thursday (June 5) at midnight in the time zone of the originating city. The sale covers travel from Aug. 25 through Dec. 17, though Fridays and Sundays are excluded on most routes. Other routes have shorter date-of-travel windows and there are a significant number of other days blocked off for flights to Florida and Nevada. Blackout dates for all routes are Sept. 1 and Nov. 21-Dec. 2. And, as in most airline sales, the number of seats offered at the lowest prices are limited and could sell out on individual flights.
For those who can navigate all the fine print, fares of less than $100 are available on dozens of Southwest's shortest routes. Among those: Baltimore-Charlotte; Boston-Baltimore; Boise-Spokane; Chicago-Pittsburgh; Denver-Omaha; St. Louis-Grand Rapids, Mich.; San Francisco.-Las Vegas; Phoenix-San Diego; Sacramento-Portland, Ore.; New Orleans-Nashville; Minneapolis-Kansas City; Los Angeles-Las Vegas. Southwest's sale covers travel periods that are typically slow for airlines in the United States. While demand is strong throughout the summer, it typically tails off among leisure fliers after Labor Day until Thanksgiving. It then drops again during the window between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Several big airlines appear to have matched Southwest's fares, but only on select routes (as of 11:55 a.m. ET). JetBlue, for example, was offering $98 round trips between Baltimore and Boston and between Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale. US Airways was doing the same for flights between Baltimore and Charlotte and American on the St. Louis-Chicago route.
But Southwest rivals were not matching the $49 one-way fares on all routes as of 11:55 a.m. ET.