Southwest Airlines has launched its twice-a-year fare sale, and strategic Wisconsin travelers can snare some cheap flights to various destinations.
For $49, you can fly one-way from Milwaukee to Kansas City, Cleveland, Nashville or Minneapolis/St. Paul, for example.
For $69 you can go from Milwaukee to New York or Boston.
If want to be a snowbird, you could head to Florida for $79 to Fort Lauderdale, $99 to Orlando or Tampa, or $129 to Fort Myers.
If you want to head to Los Angeles to see the Brewers play the Dodgers on Aug. 25-27, the one-way fares start at $139.
And if you’re ready for some football, you could take in a Green Bay Packers road game Sept. 17 against the Falcons with one-way fares to Atlanta starting at $94, Oct. 8 against the Cowboys with one-way fares to Dallas starting at $75, or Dec. 10 against the Browns with one-way fares to Cleveland starting at $49.
The sale launched Tuesday morning and is good for travel from Aug. 22 through Dec. 13. Flights on Fridays and Sundays are excluded from the sale, as are certain dates around the Labor Day and Thanksgiving holidays.
The sale fares apply specifically to nonstop options, though many connecting itineraries may also show lower-than-usual fares. Seats sold at the sale prices are capacity controlled, meaning the cheapest seats will likely sell out on individual flights.
Regardless of the details, bargain seekers will have to act quickly to snag the fares. The sale ends on Thursday at 11:59 p.m. local time in the city of the departing flight. (Full sale details)
However, those used to Southwest’s previous sales should be warned that the availability of Southwest’s cheapest fares appears to be somewhat more limited than in past sales. The $49 fares do appear on most days on the advertised routes, but they do not always appear on every flight, according to a quick check of the carrier’s website early Tuesday morning.
The takeaway: While the sale fares are widely available through the sale window, customers with the greatest schedule flexibility will have the best luck securing the lowest advertised fares. Still, fliers should remember that the cheapest seats will likely begin to sell out as the sale goes on.
The broad fare sale has become a staple for Southwest. It has rolled out similar three-day sales each June and October for the past several years. In June 2015, the sale proved so popular that it crashed Southwest’s website, prompting the carrier to extend that particular sale by an additional 24 hours. Southwest’s website did not appear to be having any such issues Tuesday.
Southwest has used the sales to generate buzz and — perhaps more importantly — to sell seats during what are usually some of the slowest travel periods of the year. The fall sale usually covers travel from late November into early February. It excludes the busy holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, but discounts flights on other dates that typically have weak demand.
The summer sale, like the one announced Tuesday, covers a similarly slow period. It includes flights from the end of summer – when demand falls off as vacation season ends – through mid-December. With the exception of Thanksgiving, which is blacked out, the latter part of that calendar window also marks a period of low demand before travel ramps up again for the winter holidays.
Travelers would be advised to check for comparable bargains through other airlines.
Southwest is the market share leader in Milwaukee, with nearly 50% of the passengers at Mitchell International Airport. Delta is second with about 25% of the passengers at Mitchell. The remainder of the market is split among United, American, Frontier, Air Canada, Alaska, OneJet and Volaris.
USA TODAY contributed to this report.
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