72-Hour Sale on Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways — and Some Advice

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Southwest Airlines has a sale on its airfares good through Thursday, June 14, 2012 for travel between select domestic airports in the United States on any day from August 13, 2012 through November 14, 2012 — except on Fridays, Sundays, and on August 18, August 30, September 3 and September 4.
The airfare sale is divided into three types of one-way airfares with taxes and fees included, based on distance:

  • $49.00 for flights up to 500 miles
  • $99.00 for flights between 501 and 1,300 miles
  • $139.00 for flights greater than 1,301 miles

AirTran Airways — which was acquired by Southwest Airlines — is having a similar airfare sale.
I do miss the days when flights were less expensive for similar sales, but with higher fuel prices, I suppose you have to take what you can get. However, here is some advice for you…
If you do not fly as a passenger on Southwest Airlines or AirTran Airways, this sale still benefits you because competing airlines usually match sales in identical markets. For example, round-trip airfare for a a Delta Air Lines flight in late September between Atlanta and Midway Airport in Chicago prices at $197.60, which exactly matches the sale airfare by Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways. However, the same airfare exists between Atlanta and Chicago O’Hare International Airport on Delta Air Lines — a service not offered by either AirTran Airways or Southwest Airlines.
Even better is if you would already have to rent a car anyway in Chicago, consider flying to Indianapolis instead and driving the three hours to Chicago. The total round-trip airfare from Atlanta is $97.60 on AirTran Airways — a savings of $100.00 — but it is $117.60 on Delta Air Lines, which is $20.00 more expensive than AirTran Airways. Of course, you have to take into account six hours of your time driving and the cost of fuel. However, the point of this example is that you may want to consider an alternate destination if your original destination is just beyond the distance limit as defined by the airfare sale and you can catch a flight to a neighboring airport closer to your origination point, thereby saving you some money.
Another example is if you want to travel between Atlanta and Washington, D.C., which is priced at $99.00 each way, including taxes and fees. Consider Richmond instead — a two-hour drive from Washington, D.C. — at $49.00 each way, including taxes and fees.
Be aware that seats are limited. For example, I notice that on the first early-morning flight out of Indianapolis to Atlanta on Monday, September 24, the lowest one-way economy class airfare is $151.00 instead of $49.00 — so be sure to be as flexible as possible in order to take full advantage of this 72-hour airfare sale.
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