Consider Locking in Some Domestic Airline Tickets Now

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I briefly mentioned the current Southwest sale last night, but wanted to talk about it again today as it is a big deal for those who have some domestic tickets to purchase for travel over the next few months.  I don’t usually fly Southwest (due to how far Houston Hobby is from my house), but when possible, I wait for Southwest sales like this one in order to lock in a number of bookings…on United.  Southwest has “sales” almost every week, but this type of sale where routes have fixed prices based on the distance flown are different.  Not only are the prices often lower on some routes than can frequently be more expensive, but other airlines (like United, Delta, and American) have a tendency to match these sales – even from their hubs.  You don’t often find an airline like United matching a sale out of one of their hubs, like Houston, but they frequently do with this sale…which is fantastic for families like mine.

For example, thanks to this sale today I grabbed a $300 round trip fare from Houston into a smaller market that is consistently around $500+ round trip.  $300 is still not cheap for a domestic flight, but it was well below the market average for that route, and it is a direct flight on my airline of choice.  If I was in need of a round trip from Houston to Atlanta, Denver, Chicago, Orlando, or other destinations that are between 501-1,000 miles away I could lock them in for around $175 round trip on either Southwest or United.  In fact, I just completed a round trip to Atlanta last weekend that was booked for about $150 round trip during one of these sales in 2012.  I know my examples are rather Houston-centric, but the same applies to many other markets where Southwest or AirTran operates.

We are in the second of three days for this sale (ends 11:59PM Pacific on 2/7), and typically availability starts to dry up at some point on the second day.  Some routes/flight times will stay available for the whole sale, but not all will.  So, don’t sit on this until tomorrow night just because the sale runs until then.  If you can commit now (remember 24 hour cancellation policies), then do it.  These fares aren’t necessarily “mileage run” worthy, but they are often good fares on some popular domestic routes.  Here are just a few examples of what is available.

Houston – Las Vegas: $237 RT (United May 1 – May 4)

Houston – Orlando: $177 RT (United June 1 – June 4)

Atlanta – Chicago: $178 RT (United April 12 – 15)

LaGuardia – Ft. Lauderdale: $174 RT (Delta and American April 25 – April 30)

San Francisco – Phoenix: $178 RT (US Airways and United May 31- June 4)

Of course you can also book on Southwest and/or AirTran, if you prefer them to the other major carriers.  Remember that those airlines allow you to rebook at a lower price and you receive credit to use on a future flight for the difference in fare, so it can pay to check your existing Southwest or AirTran reservations as well.

Have you locked in some tickets thanks to this nationwide sale?  If so, I’d love to hear about them!  The only thing better than “free” travel, is “cheap” travel!


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  1. Too bad I already bought my tickets to Denver (the only market directly served by WN from NYC). Good tip though, I don’t usually pay that much attention to fare matches.

  2. Thanks for the informative post. I had been looking at tickets to Boston and then the price dropped (bought them this morning). I didn’t buy on SW…but what you say makes perfect sense.

  3. For perhaps the first time in my life I am appreciative of Southwest. DEN-SFO before my RTW F (unfortunately originating from SFO instead of DEN) trip is down $60 from a few days ago.

  4. Would it be possible to use Southwest promo for a cheap flight to/from Honolulu? (my hub, which Southwest doesn’t use). You mentioned in you’re post that Southwest promo is based off of miles traveled, not locations. Just thought I would ask.

  5. I rebooked my BWI – OKC round-trip in April and saved $100 with the sale. Being able to rebook and get the Southwest without having to call the airline is great. If only Southwest flew mostly out of IAD or DCA and not BWI.

  6. @Travel Bug – as Dan says, you can always rebook your Denver flight and get a credit to use on a future flight with no penalty.

    @Ramzi – Other airlines are only matching on routes that there is competition from Southwest.

  7. CMH –> MCO on United thanks to the sale. Not direct like Southwest, but I get 4 segments for status and a chance at an upgrade. Lowly PS on UA, but it’s more a tourist destination so I can at least hope!

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