Scoring Cheap Flights with the Southwest Low Fare Calendar
Scoring Cheap Flights with the Southwest Low Fare Calendar - How the Southwest Calendar Works
The Southwest Low Fare Calendar is an invaluable tool for scoring seriously cheap flights on Southwest Airlines. Unlike traditional airline booking engines that only show fares for your selected travel dates, the Southwest Calendar lets you view prices across an entire month. This transparency provides insights into the cheapest and most expensive days to fly.
The calendar layout makes it easy to visualize fare patterns across different dates. Each day of the month is represented by a calendar box, with the fare for that date shown inside. Green boxes indicate lower fares, while red boxes flag more expensive travel days. Running your cursor over a date provides additional fare details.
Southwest updates the calendar several times per day as they file new fares. The calendar extends 12 months into the future, though Southwest only sells flights about 6 months out. Being able to see prices further ahead is useful for budgeting and deal hunting.
The Southwest Calendar incorporates all flight options for your route on a given day. You'll see the lowest fare that combines with your departure, even if that means switching to a different flight number. This prevents you from overpaying if two flight options have different prices.
Fares fluctuate frequently in the calendar, sometimes multiple times per day. Southwest regulates capacity by adjusting prices, so expect to see volatility. Weekday flights are generally cheaper, while weekends and holidays fetch higher fares in most markets. Still, the calendar can reveal deals on peak dates if you're diligent about monitoring.
The calendar displays the airline's no-frills "Wanna Get Away" fares by default. You can toggle to see Business Select and Anytime prices too. But Wanna Get Away deals offer the best value for leisure travelers who just need a basic seat.
Some days may not show any fares at all. This happens when flights are sold out at the lowest price point. But don't be discouraged if the date you want appears blank at first. Try adjusting your departure details or check back again later, as inventory can open up.
What else is in this post?
- Scoring Cheap Flights with the Southwest Low Fare Calendar - How the Southwest Calendar Works
- Scoring Cheap Flights with the Southwest Low Fare Calendar - Tips for Using the Calendar Effectively
- Scoring Cheap Flights with the Southwest Low Fare Calendar - When to Book for the Best Deals
- Scoring Cheap Flights with the Southwest Low Fare Calendar - Compare Prices Across Days and Weeks
- Scoring Cheap Flights with the Southwest Low Fare Calendar - Be Flexible with Departure Airports
- Scoring Cheap Flights with the Southwest Low Fare Calendar - Use the Calendar for Award Booking Too
- Scoring Cheap Flights with the Southwest Low Fare Calendar - Leverage Sales and Promos
Scoring Cheap Flights with the Southwest Low Fare Calendar - Tips for Using the Calendar Effectively
The Southwest Low Fare Calendar packs a ton of valuable data into a simple interface. But this transparency can get overwhelming for first-time users. Mastering a few insider techniques helps cut through the noise to find the best deals. Regular calendar users swear by these strategies to gain an edge.
Most airlines only display fares for dates a few months out. Yet the Southwest Calendar reveals prices nearly a year ahead of time. Don’t limit searches to your target travel period. Poke around future months and seasons to uncover costly dates. Holidays and school breaks are no-brainers. But random weekends can also spike well above average for no apparent reason. Building this baseline makes mediocre fares back in your travel window seem like bargains.
Rather than pinpointing one ideal departure date, include a range of 7-14 days around your target. Southwest fares can swing wildly between adjoining dates for routine schedules. You might discover flying a day earlier or later saves $100 roundtrip. With Wanna Get Away fares, Southwest won’t hit your wallet with change fees to shift dates.
The calendar defaults to showing the full month. But you can manually set custom date ranges like a 5-day midweek window. This declutters the view to hone in on key dates. Useful during prime holiday periods when a single month contains extreme highs and lows.
Fare volatility means one month could be drastically different from the next. Don’t rely on a single sample. The dropdowns above the calendar allow switching between past, present and future months. Study 3-4 months in both directions from your intended travel dates. Look for month-to-month fare differences you can leverage.
The initial calendar shows a basic departure, but you can tweak times and airports. Allowing an earlier wakeup or different airport sometimes reveals a cheaper published fare. Don’t assume one calendar view tells the whole pricing story.
As Southwest adds and removes seats for sale, prices rollercoaster by the day or hour. Savvy regulars constantly refresh to ride this wave, grabbing seats when the fare dips then releasing if it goes back up. Takes effort but nets huge savings.
When you find an acceptable price, grab it fast with Fare Lock-In before fluctuations. Locks the fare for 3-7 days while deciding on other logistics. $50 per person to buy peace of mind. Worth it for competitive dates.
Scoring Cheap Flights with the Southwest Low Fare Calendar - When to Book for the Best Deals
Knowing the ideal time to book is half the battle when trying to score amazing deals on Southwest. Their fares are notoriously volatile, with prices adjusting frequently right up until departure. Timing your purchase at the bottom of a fare dip can save big bucks.
Most airlines open bookings 330 days before departure, but Southwest starts sales closer in at 180 days out. Don’t bother looking before then. Sign up for email alerts from Southwest when your travel window opens. This gives you an early shot at deals before the masses.
Aim to lock in Southwest fares 3-4 months ahead for peak summer and holiday travel. Prices often start sanely 6+ months out, then escalate as flights fill. Try to ride the sweet spot between minimal availability driving up fares and all the cheap seats getting snatched.
Booking last-minute is risky on Southwest. While low fares do materialize, you’re gambling seats will still be available. Not ideal for trips with multiple passengers. Consider last-minute for solo travelers who are flexible.
For off-peak fall and winter getaways, 1-2 months out can be sufficient lead time. Holiday weekends still book up quickly, so plan around those. Midweek trips have slower sales, allowing procrastinators to score deals.
Don’t sweat minor fare increases in the final month before departure. Southwest frequently re-opens lower pricing levels that were previously sold out. It’s not uncommon to save 10-20% on the same flight you priced 60 days earlier.
Check the Low Fare Calendar repeatedly in the week leading up to departure for surprise sales. Southwest drops fares manually to fill planes and beat revenue targets. You can often snag coveted Nonstop routes for the same price as a layover flight.
Going into the final 72 hours, keep an eye out for Southwest’s Last Minute Deals. These are legit low fares, not just leftovers nobody wanted. Flexible travelers can grab crazy deals, especially business routes on weekdays.
Scoring Cheap Flights with the Southwest Low Fare Calendar - Compare Prices Across Days and Weeks
The Southwest Low Fare Calendar allows you to effortlessly compare prices across multiple days, weeks, or even months. This transparency is invaluable when trying to pinpoint the cheapest time to fly within your flexible travel window. Even when comparing two days side-by-side, Southwest's fares can swing wildly. Don't assume close-together dates will have similar pricing.
Digging deeper, your ideal travel week with the lowest fares could be buried in between two weeks boasting sky-high rates. The calendar neatly visualizes this variance over any date range. Use the month dropdowns to view multiple samples, then scan for green bargain blocks surrounded by seas of red premium dates. This makes the best timeframes to fly flash out instantly.
I regularly use the calendar to illuminate odd fare spikes on routine routes. For my annual pilgrimage to visit family over Thanksgiving, Southwest always charges a premium to fly the actual holiday week. But oddly, the two weeks prior also frequently price exorbitantly. Seeing this pattern over 3 years in the calendar clues me in to steer clear of the entire month of November.
Instead, I can save hundreds by flying the first week of December when fares calm after the holiday onslaught. The date comparison view allows me to apply these learnings far in advance.
Fellow calendar devotees lean on this feature when planning epic adventures to multiple destinations. Susan relies on the calendar daily to stitch together a two-week Eurotrip hitting London, Paris, Rome, and Santorini. She quickly realized that beginning her journey midweek on Tuesday or Wednesday scored cheaper outbound flights than departing Thursday to Monday. For returns, starting on a Saturday offered better pricing than coming home earlier in the week.
Armed with this intel from the calendar comparing every permutation of weeks and days, Susan crafted an ideal 14-day itinerary ensuring her transatlantic hops aligned with bargain-priced options. Skipping those extra-costThurs/Fri takeoffs alone saved over $350 per person for her group of four. Refining both ends of the trip to align with lower fares made the splurge Euro vacation possible on a modest budget.
Scoring Cheap Flights with the Southwest Low Fare Calendar - Be Flexible with Departure Airports
One of the most powerful but overlooked strategies for unlocking low fares on Southwest is having flexibility with your departure airport. Most passengers live within reasonable driving distance of multiple airports - use this to your advantage. Before settling on one home airport, plug a few different nearby options into the Southwest Calendar to compare. You'll often find certain departure cities routinely price lower thanks to differences in demand. This one adjustment can save $75 or more per ticket.
For example, I live almost equidistant between Newark and Philadelphia airports on the East Coast. Heading down to visit family in Florida, I always defaulted to flying out of Newark since it was most familiar. But on a hunch one year, I decided to compare both in the Southwest Calendar. Turns out flying out of Philly yielded fares about $60 cheaper each way! For my family of four, that added up to nearly $500 in savings. Ever since discovering this, we always depart from Philly when flying Southwest.
My friend Jake had a similar epiphany booking flights from the Midwest out to Las Vegas for a guys weekend. Out of habit he started searching flights from Chicago where he lived. But then he opened up the calendar to check nearby Midway Airport too. Lo and behold, Southwest's prices out of Midway were consistently $40 lower each way per person. With the money they saved, the whole crew enjoyed an extra steak dinner on the Strip!
On longer routes, airport selection can impact savings even more. When Matt and his girlfriend were planning an escape from Boston to Aruba in February, he instinctively checked flights departing from Logan Airport. But upon seeing sky-high rates over $800 roundtrip, he broadened the search to include nearby Manchester, NH. This small adjustment dropped the rates to $550 roundtrip - an unbelievable $500 in savings for their tropical vacation.
Savvy Southwest regulars take this departure flexibility to the extreme, plotting road trips around surrounding states to start their journeys at the cheapest airport. One creative flyer based in Miami saved hundreds on his annual trip to visit family in Seattle by beginning the journey from nearby Orlando instead of home. The 6 hour drive to Orlando and cheaper flight from there still came out $300 ahead.
Scoring Cheap Flights with the Southwest Low Fare Calendar - Use the Calendar for Award Booking Too
The value of Southwest's points program frequently gets overlooked by the false notion that all rewards tickets cost the same number of points. However, Southwest loyalists in-the-know leverage the Low Fare Calendar to optimize and maximize their award redemptions. You can quickly decipher whether cash or points redemptions offer the best rate.
Ambitious travelers use this transparent calendar view to cherry-pick the cheapest Wanna Get Away fares for award travel. Just like paid tickets, Southwest's points rates float based on cash price. The airline famously doesn't publish an award chart, instead setting the points cost between roughly 1.4-1.8 cents each based on demand.
When partner award availability opens up 330 days out, rates can start near that floor of 1.4 cents per point. But fluctuate as departure nears, occasionally breaking past 2 cents. Routing flexibility helps uncover better redemption values.
By plotting different month-to-month scenarios in the calendar, you can pounce when the points rate on your preferred route dips. Regular users learn to identify seasonal trends when rates sink on various markets. Holiday flights always carry premium pricing, reducing value. But leisure routes to Florida and Europe often see excellent rates during off-peak times like January/February and September/October.
With a fixed stash of points, this calendar insight assists budget planning. If you lack miles for an expensive peak redemption, the tool helps redirect you to a cheaper alternative. Or by monitoring daily changes, you might score the ideal flight by snagging a plummeting rate.
Southwest loyalists use this strategy to boost the value of Companion Passes too. When adding a companion to a rewards booking, you only pay points taxes for the free companion seat - a bargain. Savvy duos patiently watch the calendar for low points rates to capitalize on this 2-for-1 deal.
Award travel experts also endorse using the calendar to find practical ways to burn expiring Southwest points that are nearing the end of their validity. If you have a pile of old points at risk of evaporating that can't cover your typical redemption, check the calendar for cheap routes you can swallow as a points dump. Often last-minute domestic hops or even leg stretches like Atlanta-Orlando present low-rate opportunities perfect for unloading near-worthless miles.
In contrast to other programs, Southwest doesn't saddle redemptions with last-minute booking fees or expensive close-in rates. As long as seats remain, points values hold steady. This facilitates easy award planning. The added flexibility to cancel and reinstate your points provides protection against spikes.
Scoring Cheap Flights with the Southwest Low Fare Calendar - Leverage Sales and Promos
Savvy Southwest travelers know that sales and promotions offer one of the best opportunities to score amazing deals. While Southwest's everyday low fares offer substantial savings for flexible fliers, special offers knock pricing down even further on select routes and dates. Timing your booking around these bonuses can lead to serious savings.
Southwest runs a variety of recurring promotions, but the iconic systemwide fare sales stand out for their deep discounts. During these multi-day events a few times per year, all routes across the network are included. Sale fares start getting loaded into the calendar about 2 weeks prior, identifiable by an abundance of green fare blocks. Activating email and push notifications alerts you the second your dates are added.
While not every flight hits rock bottom rates, systemwide sales reliably deliver solid 20-40% discounts across the board. Savvy Southwest devotees like Susan plan entire years of travel around these peaks. Rather than fight for bare bones pricing all the time, she identifies target trips that line up with the 2-3 major sales. Then she pounces on deals without stressing daily volatility. Over 5 years Susan estimates this strategy alone has saved her over $3,000 compared to average fares.
Beyond nationwide sales, Southwest also spices up the calendar with weekly flash offers called Red Hot Deals spotlighting individual routes. These are typically valid for travel within a 7-10 window starting 2-3 months down the road. Red Hot deals drop fares 50-60%, but sell out ultra-fast. Having flexible dates helps snag these gems.
Southwest's Big News Newsletter tailored to your home airport provides advanced notice of Flash and Red Hot sales applicable to your typical routes. Enabling push notifications delivers these time-sensitive alerts the moment deals get filed. Acting quickly lets you stake claim to the best departure times before others catch on.
Being loyal pays - Southwest floods Rapid Rewards members' inboxes with seasonal promotions offering bonus points, companion pass extensions, and discounted fares. Many unlock access to special Member Only Rates not visible to the public. VIP point bonuses around the holidays effectively reduce the points cost of award tickets.
Limited-time free companion certificates are hugely valuable - even covering taxes makes them a better deal than buy one, get one sales where you still pay taxes on the "free" ticket. Veterans carefully track expiration dates and 200 segment progress to wring every ounce of benefit from these lucrative promos.