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Southwest Airlines announces new fare sale

Southwest on Tuesday launched a fare sale for late fall and winter, although it includes limits and blackout dates around the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Southwest Airlines Co. on Tuesday launched a new fare sale for late fall and winter, although it includes plenty of limits and blackout dates around the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays.

The airline said seats to some destinations would start at $59 each way, but seats are limited.

The sale prices apply to travel from Oct. 13 through Feb. 11 but aren't available Fridays and Sundays and won't be offered on some flights from Nov. 24 to Dec. 1 and from Dec. 17 to Jan. 3.

Southwest said sale examples included $59 one-way between Phoenix and San Diego, and $89 one-way between Boston-area airports and Chicago's Midway Airport. Southwest said fares would vary by destination, flight and day of travel.

Tom Parsons, chief executive of discount travel site Bestfares.com, said the sale prices were higher than they were for other recent Southwest promotions and up to 50 percent higher than during a big fare sale this summer.

Parsons said Southwest is raising fares to make up for the downturn in business travel and the revenue it leaves behind by not charging baggage fees.

Southwest doesn't charge for checking a first or second bag. CEO Gary Kelly has said that policy will remain through this year, but he hasn't made any promises to let bags fly free in 2010.

Southwest spokeswoman Beth Harbin said some cross-country trips, such as Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to San Francisco, top out at $149 each way compared with $109 during an August sale. But the sale cut up to 54 percent off Southwest's normal price when buying a ticket 14 days in advance — "that's a great deal," she said.