Flight Hacking 101: How to Unlock Hidden Southwest Fares with the Low Fare Calendar
Flight Hacking 101: How to Unlock Hidden Southwest Fares with the Low Fare Calendar - What is the Low Fare Calendar?
The Southwest Low Fare Calendar is one of the best-kept secrets for scoring amazing deals on Southwest Airlines. This powerful booking tool allows you to view an entire month's worth of fares at a glance, making it easy to spot rock-bottom rates for your chosen route.
Unlike most airline sites where you pick your travel dates first, the Southwest Calendar lets you browse fares before selecting dates. You can scan prices for all 30 days of the month and quickly identify the cheapest days to fly. The color-coded calendar uses visual cues like green shading to flag dates with lower fares. This intuitive display makes it a cinch to pinpoint flights at bargain rates.
The Calendar pulls from Southwest's huge inventory of unpublished and web-only fares that don't appear on conventional booking engines. These hidden deals can represent massive savings over published fares. Savvy travelers use the Calendar to lock in those secret fares before anyone else, saving hundreds of dollars on flights in the process.
For example, a Dallas to Cancun roundtrip might show $800 as the starting price on Southwest.com for specific dates. But the Calendar could reveal an all-in fare of $320 for another set of dates in the same month. That's a 60% discount by switching your travel dates using the Calendar's visibility into Southwest's lowest fares.
Unlike other airfare deals that are gone in an instant, Calendar deals tend to stick around for a few days or even weeks since they are unpublished web fares only Southwest insiders know about. This gives you time to strategize the best Calendar deals for your schedule without worrying dates will sell out immediately.
The Calendar is especially handy for route-based searches. Maybe you live in Chicago and travel to Denver often to visit family. Rather than put in specific dates, you can select Chicago - Denver and browse the entire year's worth of Calendar fares at once to plan trips when prices dip.
With a simple search, you can view 365 days of fare options in a single page. The color patterns make it easy to spot the best rates overall or in a given month. No more guessing when prices might drop – the Calendar shows you clearly when to fly for less.
What else is in this post?
- Flight Hacking 101: How to Unlock Hidden Southwest Fares with the Low Fare Calendar - What is the Low Fare Calendar?
- Flight Hacking 101: How to Unlock Hidden Southwest Fares with the Low Fare Calendar - When to Check the Calendar for Deals
- Flight Hacking 101: How to Unlock Hidden Southwest Fares with the Low Fare Calendar - How Far in Advance to Book with the Calendar
- Flight Hacking 101: How to Unlock Hidden Southwest Fares with the Low Fare Calendar - Weekday vs Weekend Travel on Southwest
- Flight Hacking 101: How to Unlock Hidden Southwest Fares with the Low Fare Calendar - Using the Calendar for One-Way Flights
- Flight Hacking 101: How to Unlock Hidden Southwest Fares with the Low Fare Calendar - Connecting Flights and Layovers
- Flight Hacking 101: How to Unlock Hidden Southwest Fares with the Low Fare Calendar - Companion Pass and Calendar Synergy
- Flight Hacking 101: How to Unlock Hidden Southwest Fares with the Low Fare Calendar - Maximize Points Earning with Calendar Fares
Flight Hacking 101: How to Unlock Hidden Southwest Fares with the Low Fare Calendar - When to Check the Calendar for Deals
Knowing when to check the Southwest Low Fare Calendar is crucial to scoring the biggest discounts. While the tool provides visibility into prices year-round, certain days and times tend to yield more jackpot fares than others. Through trial and error, Southwest devotees have discovered the sweet spots for mining calendar gold.
Most experts recommend starting searches on Tuesday mornings before 10am local time. This is right after Southwest has loaded new fares into the system overnight, so you're getting a first look at fresh deals. Set a recurring calendar reminder to check early on Tuesdays and you'll often land super low fares before the crowds catch on.
Fridays are another prime day for deals as Southwest frequently drops weekend getaway fares then. Plotting trips to places like Vegas, Florida, or Southern California? Check Fridays and you'll find bargain fares to popular weekend hotspots. With everyone else focused on wrapping up their work week, you can swoop in and grab the best deals while they're distracted.
The other key tip is to check right after a big fare sale ends. Southwest runs 72-hour sales about once a month, usually over weekends. Once the sale fares vanish Sunday night, Southwest will reload the calendar with the next round of deals. It pays to check first thing Monday when these new rates populate.
You'll also discover great fares surrounding holidays and seasonal events. The two weeks before and after Thanksgiving and Christmas are fruitful times as demand dips. Ski destinations offer their best rates in the spring when the snow melts. And beach spots tend to have bargain fares after summer ends and crowds dissipate.
Flight Hacking 101: How to Unlock Hidden Southwest Fares with the Low Fare Calendar - How Far in Advance to Book with the Calendar
Figuring out the ideal time to book Southwest flights with the Low Fare Calendar is an art form. Book too late and all the deals could be gone. Book too early and you might miss price drops later. So when's the booking sweet spot? Most Southwest veterans aim for 1-3 months before departure.
Booking a month or two out lands you safely in the window where Southwest has opened up flights for sale, but before mass bookings start driving fares upwards. Airlines tend to price flights lower when the departure date is further away to stimulate early demand. As that departure date gets closer, remaining unsold seats become more scarce so prices climb higher.
The Calendar lets you watch this dynamic play out. You'll notice prices for a given route float lower 6-8 weeks before takeoff. But in the last 2-3 weeks, any remaining deals disappear as last-minute travelers snap up seats. Aim to book in that 1-3 month range for the best odds of calendar success.
Don't wait until the month of travel because deals are rarer then. And avoid booking super early 6+ months out as better fares will likely appear. Southwest seat sales crop up constantly in the months before departure. When they end, new web fares emerge on the Calendar to take their place. Checking and rechecking the Calendar as your dates approach almost always reveals cheaper options.
One smart strategy is to book something 6 weeks out as a placeholder, then modify if better fares arise. You can change Southwest flights without fees, so you have flexibility to tweak plans when the Calendar produces.
Sometimes you'll score one outlier date at an amazing fare, but surrounding dates are pricey. In this case, look at flying the day before or after and staying an extra night to shift your travel to the cheap date. The extra hotel night is usually way less than you'll save on airfare.
Be ready to book when you see great Calendar deals. Have your companion pass number, Rapid Rewards number, and payment info handy so you can lock in rates fast before they disappear. The most in-demand dates like summer weekends go quickest.
Avoid "sales trap" thinking where you assume even lower fares could appear. Calendar deals already represent crazy low pricing for Southwest. If you spot a good rate, book it because waiting longer carries risk.
Flight Hacking 101: How to Unlock Hidden Southwest Fares with the Low Fare Calendar - Weekday vs Weekend Travel on Southwest
Strategizing weekday versus weekend travel is crucial when using the Southwest Low Fare Calendar. Southwest operates over 4,000 flights a day, with huge variability in fares depending on travel day of week. Understanding when SW fares dip and when they peak can save hundreds per ticket.
Weekends, especially Sundays, tend to be the most expensive thanks to leisure travelers heading to fun destinations. Fridays also see elevated fares as work warriors start their getaways earlier.avoid fellow deal-hunter competition.
Midweek days like Tuesday and Wednesday are generally the cheapest thanks to dramatically lower demand from business travelers. Southwest caters heavily to vacationers and budget-focused flyers, so its planes empty out midweek without road warriors to fill seats.
Analyzing the Calendar confirms this dynamic. A random Chicago to Fort Lauderdale search shows Sunday returns at $350+ but Tuesday/Wednesday returns around $270. Turns out a “free” extra vacation night to fly on a Tuesday vs. Sunday easily pays for itself through airfare savings alone.
The Calendar provides hard evidence on the best travel days for your route, saving huge sums over guesswork. Customize the calendar with your exact city pair and scan for visual patterns on days to target or avoid. Green shades signify deals, red shades more expensive days.
The 2-3 weeks before/after major holidays can produce incredibly low fares as travelers lock in plans. Never assume weekends are cheapest for holiday trips. Midweek dates yield far better results.
Some sample dates for holiday steal:
- Fly the Monday/Tuesday before Thanksgiving, return the Monday/Tuesday after
- Depart the Monday/Tuesday after Christmas, return the Thursday/Friday before New Year’s Eve
- Avoid Valentines and New Year’s weekends; go midweek right before/after instead
Mixing both weekday and weekend travels across multiple trips balances maximizing deals while enjoying leisure time. And the flexibility to change Southwest tickets without fees means you can tweak dates later as the departure nears if new deals arise.
Flight Hacking 101: How to Unlock Hidden Southwest Fares with the Low Fare Calendar - Using the Calendar for One-Way Flights
The Southwest Low Fare Calendar isn't only useful for roundtrips. Savvy flyers use it to uncover phenomenal one-way fares too. Southwest offers a ton of unpublished web deals on one-way routes that never make it onto regular booking engines. The Calendar pulls these web fares and displays them for eagle-eyed travelers to spot.
Why hunt for one-way deals on Southwest? First, you can score half-price fares versus a roundtrip sometimes. Airlines price roundtrips higher knowing travelers need that return flight too. But Southwest might sell you a one-way route for 50% less than half the roundtrip rate when demand dips.
Second, one-ways allow more flexibility to mix and match outbound and return dates, airports, and deals. Maybe you find an $80 one-way from Chicago to Denver, then spot a $50 return Denver to St. Louis a month later. Boom - you created a discounted multi-city trip thanks to the Calendar's one-way visibility.
For example, say you live in both Austin and Denver and go both ways often. Check Austin to Denver and Denver to Austin across many months. You might find a $49 Austin to Denver deal one week, then a $39 Denver to Austin special a few weeks later. At those prices, you could fly more often and maximize both bargains.
When booking one-ways, think outside the box on connections too. Maybe you live in Des Moines but always connect through Chicago. Well check Calendar fares from your smaller home airport direct to destinations you'd normally connect to. There could be startling deals without needing the connection.
One-way international flights on Southwest are another sweet spot, as Rapid Rewards redemptions only cover roundtrips. So Southwest offers cheap one-way cash fares to compete. I've flown from Denver to Cabo for under $150 one-way at amazing resorts thanks to Calendar digging.
The key is having flexibility. One-ways work best for frequent travelers, second home owners, or retirees who can fly at the drop of a hat. When you can jump on Calendar one-ways deals last-minute, spectacular itineraries unfold. Just like generous transfer and cancellation policies, Southwest's one-way deals offer freedom traditional roundtrips don't.
Flight Hacking 101: How to Unlock Hidden Southwest Fares with the Low Fare Calendar - Connecting Flights and Layovers
At first glance, Southwest may seem like an airline built for nonstop itineraries. With over 4,000 daily flights to 103 destinations across North America, you can fly direct on Southwest to a ton of places. But don’t overlook connections and layovers as a powerful way to access the hidden side of the Southwest network.
Connecting on Southwest opens up possibilities to smaller cities the airline doesn’t serve direct from your airport. And it unlocks lower fares too – flights with a stopover in between can be hundreds less than nonstop options. For example, flying Hartford to LA nonstop could be $350 while connecting in Chicago costs just $150 thanks to web fares exclusive to the connection.
The Low Fare Calendar provides the intel you need to evaluate if connections make sense for your route. Punch in your airports and scan the Calendar for at least a three month range. The lowest connecting options will be shaded green on days where those web fares are available.
You need to be comfortable with a little layover time, but one hour is usually enough to deplane and reboard your next Southwest segment. The airline is a master of the quick turn thanks to having no assigned seats and therefore faster boarding.
I regularly connect same-plane in places like Nashville, Denver, Chicago Midway, Houston Hobby, and Phoenix when traveling from the West Coast back home to Des Moines. The connection saves me hundreds even with the layover factored in. Especially in expensive hub cities like Chicago, hopping off and on a connection there using web fares pays dividends.
The other advantage of layovers is the ability to sample new cities at low cost. Maybe I’m flying Dallas to LA, but stay a few hours and grab lunch during my stop in Phoenix. Now I’ve discovered a new destination without ponying up for a dedicated trip there yet.
Or let’s say you live in Indianapolis and use points for Southwest flights often. But you have Rapid Rewards Companion Pass so you only redeem for one seat and buy the companion. In this case, it makes total sense to connect intentionally to maximize the value of those points. Book the long haul on points and purchase the short connection.
The Calendar contains all sorts of creative connection combos you’d otherwise never consider. Don’t let nonstop bias steer you away from the lower fares and flexibility connections provide. You can even choose to have an overnight layover to split up long trips.
Flight Hacking 101: How to Unlock Hidden Southwest Fares with the Low Fare Calendar - Companion Pass and Calendar Synergy
The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most coveted perks in the points and miles world, allowing pass holders to add a designated companion to any Southwest flight for just the cost of taxes and fees. Normally valued at around $15 each way, this adds up to huge savings for frequent flyers and couples planning getaways together.
But did you know that pairing the Companion Pass with Southwest's Low Fare Calendar can unlock savings on a whole new level? Keeping an eye on the Calendar allows you to strategically book flights when Companion Pass discounts and web fares converge for incredible deals.
For example, say you spot a Houston to Cabo flight in the Calendar for just $150 roundtrip. Thanks to your Companion Pass, you can add your partner for an extra $30 roundtrip in fees, so now you have two tickets to paradise for just $180 total. That's $90 per person for a tropical vacation thanks to stacking your pass and the Calendar's low fares.
The key is timing. Keep scanning the Calendar across multiple months to detect when bargain rates materialize. Then pounce on those deals, entering your Companion Pass to reduce the cost of the second ticket. With the Calendar, you'll see these web fares appear across both peak and off-peak dates throughout the year.
Travelers report stuffing a whole year's worth of adventures into a single 12-month Companion Pass by combining it with Calendar deal stalking. One couple knocked out weekend trips to New Orleans, savvy connections through Dallas and Denver, and even flew first class to Hawaii for under $150 each using their pass and Calendar luck.
The flexibility of the Companion Pass also makes it ideal for capitalizing on one-way Calendar bargains. Maybe you find a $39 one-way Los Angeles to Denver deal. Book it with points for yourself, then grab the companion ticket for $15.50 extra. Now you've got a steal of a ski weekend for just over $100 for both travelers.
Even last-minute trips work beautifully when the stars align on your Companion Pass and Low Fare Calendar. Flying standby as a Companion Pass holder is easy on Southwest. So if unbelievable deals pop up, you can swoop in and grab seats even a day or two before departure.
Flight Hacking 101: How to Unlock Hidden Southwest Fares with the Low Fare Calendar - Maximize Points Earning with Calendar Fares
Scoring cheap flights with the Southwest Low Fare Calendar is thrilling enough. But clever flyers use the tool to maximize Rapid Rewards points earning in addition to fares. Timing Southwest flights with point bonuses and elite status accelerators supercharges your rewards game.
Rapid Rewards offers tiered bonus points for hitting certain spending thresholds in a calendar year. You’ll earn 6x points per dollar on Southwest base fares once you surpass $12,000 in annual spending, for example. Well, the Low Fare Calendar provides the intel you need to plot exactly when to fly Southwest and lock in deals to blast past those thresholds efficiently.
Maybe you’re $2,000 away from the next bonus tier in June. Scan the Calendar and book a couple cheap summer trips to put you over the top. With those web fares, you’ll earn hundreds more points than paying full price thanks to multiplier bonuses kicking in.
Similarly, Southwest awards Companion Pass status to those earning 125,000 points in a calendar year. Again, the Calendar allows you to pinpoint the cheapest flights to ensure every dollar flies further when chasing that goal.
Business travelers can leverage the Calendar to stretch corporate travel budgets. If the boss gives you $2,000 to book Dallas client trips, use the Calendar to show them you flew 4 roundtrips for that rate instead of overpaying for just 2.