The Southwest fares fall below $100 round-trip

You're probably familiar with Southwest Airlines' popular biannual fare sale if you consider yourself a bargain hunter. The sale is back again, and in many cases the fares for short round trips are at or even below $100.

Not only are the short routes in the network discounted, but several of the longer routes are available at reduced fares as well. Single-trip flights on the shortest routes are now available at $49 each, and longer flights have scaled prices relative to distance. The next fare level is $79, then $99, and $129 for one-way flights. Some of the longest routes included in the fare sale have prices of $154 for a one-way flight.

Sale fare prices are available for purchase now, but they only cover flights between October 31 and December 19 as well as flights between January 3 and February 14. Friday and Sunday flights are not included in the sale. Sale fares are only available on inbound flights Sunday through Wednesday and outbound flights Tuesday through Friday for flights in Florida or Nevada.

Non-stop options are the only flights that these reduced fares apply toward, but some connecting flights also show cheaper fares than the norm.

While the lowest advertised fare was quoted at $49, some flights appeared to have even lower fares when the sale first began. For example, several flights between Albuquerque and Los Angeles were available for $45 one-way, which would translate to $90 for a round-trip.

Southwest recently added some international routes, and many of them are included in the sale. However, these flights have quite a few more restrictions on them than domestic flights. Flights from Fort Lauderdale to Belize are just $59 each way, but those fares are only available a few days per week.

If you want to get in on these low fares, you'll have to act fast. The reduced fares will be gone after 11:59 p.m. on October 12 for the city from which the flight departs.

This sort of fare sale is something that Southwest has become known for. Over the past several years, the company has done similar fare sales in October and June. When they first started offering the reduced fares, the sale was so popular that it caused their website to crash. Southwest replied to the situation by extending that particular sale an extra day.

This move is brilliant because it helps Southwest fill seats that otherwise might be empty during those travels lulls, and it generates a positive image for the brand.

For the initial iterations of this sale, the airline used a mileage threshold system to determine the cost of flights. For instance, flights that were 500 miles or less would receive the $49 fare. Flights between 501 and 1,000 miles were priced at $99, and so on.

While this mileage threshold system is no longer used, the system in place is quite similar. There are four advertised tiers in the sale, which are $49, $79, $99, and $129. These values are about the same as those used in the past, but they don't seem to be based entirely on distance.

Other airlines offer similar fare sales in the United States, but none are as broad and abundant as the sale from Southwest. This current sale follows the same pattern, but there are a few notable differences.

$49 fares are certainly the headline of this sale, but this sale seems to leave a few of the past options out. For example, one route that was famously included in the sale for years was the Boston-Baltimore route at $49, but it isn't included in this particular sale. In fact, there are no flights to Boston included in this sale for only $49.

In some cases, the low advertised fares are not readily visible on certain markets. Instead, the slightly higher fares are being shown. This could be an attempt by Southwest to promote those more-expensive fares even while offering cheaper fares during the sale.

To be fair, there are many, many flights with the advertised $49 fare that can easily be found online. Southwest is known for offering a tremendous number of seats at the sale fare price, so many of the flights will be available as long as the sale is active.

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