Why Southwest Airlines Launched a Fall Sale in Early June

Southwest Airlines’ launched a mega-sale this morning (Tuesday, June 2), but not for the average summer vacationer. The travel dates of the sale – Aug. 24 through early December – are considered by airlines to be part of the fall season since kids are back in school.

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Southwest Tests Fall Travel Demand

So what’s the big idea behind a pre-summer sale for autumn? According to airfare analyst and FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney, it’s all about testing demand for travel in the slower months to come.

Seaney says airlines already know they’ll make money in the summer – it’s a “no-empty-seat bonanza” – but an early sale can provide useful information about non-peak travel periods. “You hit them with a sale to gauge demand,” said Seaney.

Southwest Sticks to Sale Pattern

He noted Southwest launched a near-identical sale last year (June 3, 2014) featuring the same prices (from $49 to $149 one-way). But Southwest is not the only one probing fall demand; Virgin America also launched a fall sale today and others will likely follow. “If the demand is different than the year before, an airline investigates why,” said Seaney, “and if it’s greater, the airline celebrates.”

Tip: See more airfare sales on the Deals Blog.

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Updated: June 2, 2015