Compass

Southwest sparks fare battle with 72-hour sale

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(Photo: Aero Icarus / Flickr)

Travel fans woke up to big news today with Southwest Airlines’ announcement of a 72-hour sale, featuring some of their cheapest fares of the year.

What’s up for grabs? Rates as low as $49 each way, depending on distance traveled. “Bookings are very strong,” Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins told Yahoo Travel of the public’s reaction to the news. “Not only do small business owners who use Southwest as their ‘corporate jet’ lock into these windows, but so do people willing to dip below their line of discretionary air travel to take the kids to Disney or go snowshoeing.”

Stepping up to the plate with fare sales of their own were rival airlines United, Delta and Frontier. Delta threw down the gauntlet with fares to over 10,000 cities starting at $129 available on their website through Thursday. Dates for travel begin on or after October 17 and run through February 12 with blackout dates of November 26, 27 and 30 and December 1-3, 19-23, 26-30 and January 2-5. USAToday.com reported Spirit Airlines got into the mix with an $88 round-trip fare between Chicago and Minneapolis/St. Paul.

The Southwest sale, which concludes the end of Thursday, is based on distance traveled with flights equaling 500 miles or less costing $49 each way, 501 to 1,000 miles $99 each way, 1,001 to 1,500 $129 each way and those over 1,500 $149 each way. The travel windows extend between December 4 through December 18 and January 7 through February 12, excluding all Fridays and Sundays. Flights must be booked on southwest.com.

Can’t make those dates? Hawkins offers a tip – “Southwest doesn’t charge change fees, so even if you call us 10 minutes before your flight’s departure to cancel, your ticketless funds are available for use up to a year from date of purchase. When rebooking, you pay, or pocket, only the difference in ticket prices.”

Further incentives for late fall/early winter travel from Southwest come by way of simultaneous sales on rental cars, as well as third-party hotels in featured cities like Las Vegas, San Diego and Orlando with 40%-60% discounts. Also on sale are Southwest vacation packages.

JetBlue Airlines kicked things off Monday with a 48-hour sale that ends tonight. Tamara Young, a spokesperson for JetBlue, told Yahoo Travel sale fares range from $69 one-way from Baltimore to Boston, to $119 from Albuquerque to New York’s JFK. Travel dates are from October 22 through December 18 with blackout dates occurring November 22 through December 2.

Southwest’s reaction? “You’ll see where our markets have seen this ‘positive’ fare pressure among our competitors following our announcement today,” says Hawkins.

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