If you’re anxious to get an early start on making your holiday travel plans and live in or near a city served by Southwest Airlines, you are free to move freely about the country now..
According to a tweet from the airline in response to a customer, booking for flights through January 5, 2020, opened Thursday, May 30:
Good morning, JoJo! Our schedule release is subject to change, and it will be now releasing on on May 30. You can keep an eye on https://t.co/xEdKsHQH5z for an updates to that date. Hope to see you onboard soon! -Nidhi
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) May 24, 2019
As you can see from the Tweets, the airline had previously said that the window would open on May 23, but it appears there was a week delay.
Book flights on Southwest for Christmas, New Years starting
As of 9:15 a.m ET Thursday, the airline had updated its flight schedules page for flight bookings through the New Year holiday:
According to USA Today, most of the airline’s big competitors have been selling holiday bookings for some time time now.
Delta, for example, lets customers book flights up to 331 days in advance, which would take you well into spring of 2020.
The paper notes that while Southwest is considered a discount airline, its flights aren’t necessarily always the cheapest anymore.
On the plus side, if you book a nonrefundable flight on the airline now and the price of that flight or another one on the same route goes down in the future, you can cancel and re-book the flight and the airline will refund the difference in price.
Comparing Southwest’s holiday fares to the competitors
Team Clark checked the current fares for a couple of holiday flights to and from cities served by both Southwest and its competitors. Here’s what we found:
Atlanta, GA to Orlando, FL roundtrip — December 20, 2019-December 27, 2019
- Lowest Southwest fare: $351
- Lowest Delta fare: $313.40
Dallas, TX to New York (LaGuardia), NY roundtrip — December 28, 2019-January 3, 2020
- Lowest Southwest fare: $409
- Lowest American fare: $457
It should be noted that in both cases, available seats in the lowest fare classes appear to be pretty limited already. If you want to be sure to lock one of those in, you should probably act quickly.
When is the best time to book travel in general?
According to the ARC 2019 Air Travel Outlook Report, the best day to book a flight in 2019 is on a Sunday. If you’re not dead set on flying Southwest or aren’t in a hurry to nail down holiday travel, it might be best to keep an eye on fares for a bit.
Money expert Clark Howard has his own rule of thumb when it comes to booking cheap flights:
“If you’re really cheap, you try every day of the week and write down the price each day you check,” Clark says. “Learn the pattern and you’ll know when you’ve found your deal,” he says.
Of course, multiple airfare sales that include the holidays are likely to pop up over the next several months.