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The Street
The Street
Veronika Bondarenko

Southwest Airlines has super-cheap fares (but you need to act fast)

Anyone who has ever waited too long to book a flight during Thanksgiving or the holidays knows just how much prices can soar.

An Expedia Group (EXPE) -) report released earlier this month showed that those who book a domestic flight 28 to 35 days prior to departure pay on average 30% less while, as the 1987 movie "Planes, Trains And Automobiles" forever dramatized, those who need a last-minute ticket during a popular travel period could in some cases pay several thousand for a flight or even car rental that would have cost around $200 when booked in advance.

Related: The best time to book your Thanksgiving and Christmas flight is now

With a month-and-a-half to go until Thanksgiving, some airlines are still holding sales that will allow certain travelers to lock in low fares early. As part of a series of sales in which it has been slashing prices for those who can act fast and commit to a travel date at least three weeks in advance, Southwest Airlines (LUV) -) has launched another one in which one can get cross-country tickets for as low as $49 if booked by Thursday.


Here is what you need to do to lock in that cheap winter flight

Billed as an early winter sale, Southwest launched a Low Fare Calendar that lets customers type in their destinations and search for the lowest fares between Oct. 31, 2023 and March 6, 2024 for domestic flights and May 22, 2024 for international ones as well as Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

More Travel:

The caveat is that any abnormally low fares one sees on the calendar will need to be booked by midnight Pacific Time on Thursday, Oct. 12 — most will disappear when one uses the calendar from Friday onwards.

While the sale is also subject to certain blackout periods, those who are willing to adapt their schedule to travel on the cheapest day could score a $49 flight from Los Angeles to Houston or a $99 flight from New York's LaGuardia Airport to Phoenix.

You can score a cheap deal but these are the terms and conditions

Tropical promotions include $68 flights to Puerto Rico from several Florida cities as well as $128 flights to several Hawaiian islands from San Francisco and LA. Those who live near smaller airports may also be in luck as some of the biggest deals are for regional cities — $68 flights between Atlanta and Philadelphia in December and January as well as the same price for routes between Cleveland and New York.

One can also choose between deals for different traveler classes. The equivalent of most airlines' basic economy, the "Wanna Get Away" fare includes two free bags and does not charge change or cancelation fees but is non-refundable (travelers will only be able to reschedule travel.)

To work the sale into one's Thanksgiving plans, one will need to fly in a little earlier or right on the day of the holiday as Nov. 21 and 22 are blacked out for travel through the continental U.S. Other blackout periods include Dec. 19 to Jan. 3 for Puerto Rico and Hawaii travel as well as certain popular periods in February and March for tropical destinations.

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