There is not something quite so regular in the airline sale space as a Southwest sale. Like clockwork, they are released just about every Tuesday and almost always start somewhere between $34 – $42 from certain city pairs. So, why are such regular sales important?
3 Reasons Southwest Sales Are Important
Link: Current Southwest Sale
Southwest’s Reservation Schedule
The first reason is because of Southwest’s schedule. They do not open their systems for booking almost a year out like most carriers. Instead, it is a fixed timeframe and they open it up again every couple of months. Right now, it is good through March 7, 2018. Each week’s fare sale goes a little further into their schedule for sale prices.
So, if you are looking for a particular date to travel on, it is important to watch each week’s sale validity dates to see if they are in the space of time that you need for travel. Right now, these sale fares are good through December 13, 2017. Yes, that’s right, it just misses holiday time and the reach into next year for early 2018 vacations.
That date is actually the same validity date as it was for their big sale just a month ago. So, it is good to check these somewhat regular sales because if you had missed a sale before (like a big one!), you will still be able to get in that same timeframe at a later point. The sale dates do slide so what is available in this sale on the early side (August 22) may no longer be available during the next sale.
Southwest’s Cancellation and Change Policy
Another reason is Southwest’s fantastic cancellation policy. You can cancel or change your ticket for no cost! That means if you already have booked travel, you can cancel the ticket and rebook it at the current, lower prices. This makes these sales even more important for that reason. Say you are planning a vacation for middle of January. If you are unsure if it is at the best price or not right now but you know you want to do this, go ahead and book it (with points or cash) now.
The schedule will open up with the sale calendar at some point and you can check then to see if your travel dates are within the new sale schedule. Note: big travel times, like school breaks, holiday travel, etc, are not included in the sale schedules so figure that in your planning. It can make your planning headache much less severe knowing that, no matter what, you have the flights you want and now you can just wait and see if the prices drop during these regular sales to make it even cheaper!
If you are a TripIt Pro subscriber, when you put your reservation information in the system (as easy as setting up your e-mail address with TripIt so that they can grab reservations), it will notify you if your price has dropped! That is another nice way to get a reminder of these sales that go on.
Remember, Southwest tickets can be changed or cancelled whether they are award tickets or revenue tickets. But, you must cancel a ticket sooner than 10 minutes before departure if you do not want to lose your reservation currency! If you have paid for a ticket, the cancellation will send the amount of the flight back to your account as a credit. So, you can go ahead and rebook using that credit.
Challenge To Other Airlines
The “Southwest Effect” on airline pricing is not like it used to be (where legacy airlines would cut their prices in answer to Southwest sales) but there are still some markets where other airlines do cut their prices a bit when Southwest sales are going on.
Given the non-hub nature of Southwest, there network services a lot of regional airports with non-stop services in a way that can often challenge other airlines. It is routes like this that you may find some cheaper prices from other airlines as well.
Of course, the legacy airlines (American, Delta, and United) are rapidly making it less important for the casual flyer to choose them over Southwest so it may not matter to most people! I mean, look at what those airlines have taken away from their customers as part of the ticket cost over the years and what Southwest continues to provide!
Southwest is a great carrier that can give you a lot of flexibility. If you begin to watch and use these regular fare sales, they can save you money on future travel and on already booked travel. Even if it is not much, every little bit counts to go towards that next trip!
Imagine this – if you are able to save 1,500 points per person for a family of 4, that gives you enough points for another roundtrip ticket (for one person) on tickets around $100. If you can save points by booking during these sales, you do not have to transfer any more Ultimate Reward points than you need.
That amount would get you 1 night at a Category 1 Hyatt, 1 night at a IHG Pointbreak hotel, or enough for a one-way ticket booked with British Airways’ Avios.