Southwest Airlines Co. has joined other low-cost airlines in cutting prices for some seats this fall, after the peak summer travel season.
Southwest said Tuesday it would sell some seats on flights up to 450 miles at $40 each way to mark its 40th anniversary. The airline and its AirTran Airways subsidiary will charge $80 each way on flights up to 1,250 miles and $120 each way on longer flights.
The sale ends Thursday night and covers travel from Aug. 23 through Nov. 16 from dozens of cities. The deals carry a lot of restrictions, including no travel on Fridays and Sundays and blackout dates around Labor Day. Seats are "limited" and might not be offered on every flight.
AirTran and JetBlue launched sales for fall travel last week. Airlines expect a busy summer with planes nearly full, but demand usually drops off during the fall.
Tom Parsons, CEO of travel website Bestfares.com, said airlines have been cutting prices on some routes to as little as $19 this year. "All of them have had prices under $40 at some point this year, but not on this many cities," he said.
Parsons had predicted an anniversary sale from Southwest, but he said the inclusion of AirTran in the deal made the sale better than he had expected. He said other airlines would be forced to match Southwest prices rather than risk losing customers.