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hrmkr

Prices on Southwest Airlines

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Can any one explain to me how Southwest does their pricing?

 

We are sailing the FOS on December 1-8 out of San Juan.  Southwest opened up their schedule for that time period this morning. They were supposed to be released sometime today.  I kept checking this morning and maybe 45 minutes after release, the majority of the times available for the "Wanna Get Away" pricing was already sold out.

 

How is this possible? I know people were waiting but this is ridiculous...  Do they only open up so many seats at a time?  I was expecting the SW prices to be much better than everyone else but they were actually more.  However, when you factor in that you get 2 pieces of baggage free, it is about the same price as everyone else.

 

Should I jump on what I can get now or wait and see if other flights open up?

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More seats will open up.   People, most of them anyway, think they have to grab seats as soon as they open up and that is so wrong.  The airlines adjust the availability literally 4 times a day so just because they aren’t there today doesn’t mean they won’t be there tomorrow, or the next day, or next week, or maybe,  not at all.   You never know....

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Posted (edited)

You're looking at it as "sold out". More accurately (because I, too, was on the website right at the time of release) what you're seeing is "not available". As mentioned earlier, they're under no obligation to offer cheap fares, or to offer their lowest fare buckets. I'm rarely on there Day 1 look at fares, but when I am...this is common. Especially for a busy time of year like the time between mid-November and early-January. Keep checking back, they made add Wanna Get Away fares down the road. They may not.

 

Airline pricing is ridiculously complicated, so don't try to understand it. I practically live on planes and I sure as hell don't.

 

After looking at the fares, I'm taking a calculated risk to hold off on purchasing for my trip to Florida in December. But, I know that prices may go up and I'm willing to take the risk, at which point I will either (a) book it, (b) try to use my miles if it's a good deal, or (c) drive...which I am willing to do.

Edited by Zach1213

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1 hour ago, hrmkr said:

Should I jump on what I can get now or wait and see if other flights open up?

You could do both.  Southwest doesn't charge change fees, so if the price were to go down, you could get a credit (but not a refund) of the difference.

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2 hours ago, hrmkr said:

I was expecting the SW prices to be much better than everyone else but they were actually more.  However, when you factor in that you get 2 pieces of baggage free, it is about the same price as everyone else.

 

Very common experience flying a lot for business.  The airlines price match each other until certain capacity thresholds are crossed. 

 

If you book Southwest and they drop prices you can get the difference credited and available for a different, new booking within the next 12 months.  If another airline offers a better price you can cancel Southwest and have a Southwest credit available to use on a different new booking within the next 12 months.    So at least there is that with Southwest.  Most airlines charge penalties and fees for changes.

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19 hours ago, hrmkr said:

I was expecting the SW prices to be much better than everyone else but they were actually more.  However, when you factor in that you get 2 pieces of baggage free, it is about the same price as everyone else.

 

Presumably you mean "the same price as everyone else now".

 

Sometimes, at earlier times in the booking cycle other airlines' prices were lower than they or Southwest are now. So maybe you could have got a ticket for (say) $200 on another airline a month ago, but now you have a choice between a $300 ticket on that airline or a $350 ticket on Southwest.

 

Southwest doesn't promise that its tickets will be cheaper than other airlines' tickets, nor does it promise that its cheapest fares will be available on all flights. Nevertheless, a lot of the market seems to have convinced itself that these are immutable truths about Southwest - and therefore wait for Southwest to open for bookings regardless of what other airlines are offering in the interim.

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46 minutes ago, Globaliser said:

 

Presumably you mean "the same price as everyone else now".

 

Sometimes, at earlier times in the booking cycle other airlines' prices were lower than they or Southwest are now. So maybe you could have got a ticket for (say) $200 on another airline a month ago, but now you have a choice between a $300 ticket on that airline or a $350 ticket on Southwest.

 

Southwest doesn't promise that its tickets will be cheaper than other airlines' tickets, nor does it promise that its cheapest fares will be available on all flights. Nevertheless, a lot of the market seems to have convinced itself that these are immutable truths about Southwest - and therefore wait for Southwest to open for bookings regardless of what other airlines are offering in the interim.

 

For the trip I am looking at, Southwest was definitely more expensive at schedule release yesterday (for late December/early January) than Delta was just a few weeks ago. American and United were always astronomical and still are.

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17 hours ago, twangster said:

 

Very common experience flying a lot for business.  The airlines price match each other until certain capacity thresholds are crossed. 

 

If you book Southwest and they drop prices you can get the difference credited and available for a different, new booking within the next 12 months.  If another airline offers a better price you can cancel Southwest and have a Southwest credit available to use on a different new booking within the next 12 months.    So at least there is that with Southwest.  Most airlines charge penalties and fees for changes.

 

And another important thing is that the credit must be used within 12 months of the booking date, not departure date. Many people miss that. If you book a flight May 31st for a trip on December 31st, you must use that credit by May 31, 2020...not December 31, 2020. Continues to trip people up frequently.

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DW and I always use SWA since that is really the only airline out of STL who offers competitive fares.  I checked today on prices/points for R/T to Ft Lauderdale, they are sky high (no pun intended).  I know through experience those are going to go down.  I'm retired so part of my routine is to check for price/point updates daily.   When it gets to the point I feel is reasonable, I'll lock in and then watch for further drops.  As mentioned by others there is no change fee charged for making the switch.  On previous trips I've seen the price drop at least 6 times which is a great deal for us.  Patience is key but there does come a time you have to bite the bullet because it's not going to get better.  

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WN loves it when people keep thinking they they are always lower in pricing and don't do enough comparison shopping.   I live in a DL fortress hub.  I have yet to find a less expensive fare on WN for my travel plans, even factoring those "free" bags (I get a bag free anyway on DL plus I usually travel carry-on only).   Example:  flying from my home airport to MCO in November.  WN cheapest fare is $710 with 1 change of planes each way (no nonstop from my airport to MCO; DL for the same flights I just took in the past 10 days is $386, 1 nonstop and 1 change of plane.  

 

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Posted (edited)
30 minutes ago, slidergirl said:

WN loves it when people keep thinking they they are always lower in pricing and don't do enough comparison shopping.

 

 

I understand Southwest has a few reasons for staying off of sites like Expedia, but I'm convinced the main one they won't ever admit is that they don't want people to be able to easily compare them to everyone else, price wise.

Edited by Zach1213

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5 hours ago, JTBCruiser said:

...  I'm retired so part of my routine is to check for price/point updates daily.   When it gets to the point I feel is reasonable, I'll lock in and then watch for further drops.  ...  

 

You sound just like me.  My hobbies are planning travel, actually travelling, and watching my SW fares (not necessarily in that order).  😂

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10 hours ago, JTBCruiser said:

DW and I always use SWA since that is really the only airline out of STL who offers competitive fares.

 

I might question that....if all the other carriers, including Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier and United are ALL uncompetitive, I'd have thought the populace would shun them and they'd have closed the doors on their STL operations.

 

Sounds like you are one of those "wait til Southwest opens up their schedules" folks.  Who often miss the boat on lower priced tickets from other carriers because "Southwest will have the best prices".

 

For reference....how do the current WN prices compare to those you could have gotten previously from other carriers?  Hmmm.

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Posted (edited)

Friend, I'm looking at all the fares and my reference is what works best for DW and me based on the port we cruise out of.  I consider the whole price to include baggage fees.  SWA has been the best choice.  I normally use Google flights to check other carriers as a baseline and even check the other carrier websites directly.  I want to fly into an airport at a convenient time and not book a red eye or some other flight that may save a few $$ but is not convenient. 

 

From your screen name perhaps you work for another carrier or a very frequent flyer.  If you broke the code on better pricing, I'm willing to listen.  I'm only loyal to my wallet and not an airline. "Over". 

Edited by JTBCruiser
spelling

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Here's the first part of the "code".  Don't automatically wait until Southwest pricing is released.

 

Further instructions after you get that first part down pat.

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I'm a frequent SW user since SW is the only one that flies into my prior home small airport. Another airline has started flying there.  I am so happy that I now have a choice. Not everyone lives near a large airport with many choices.  I look at all airlines and picked what is the best price, seats, routes etc.  

 

Just rebooked my SW trip for a wedding this fall and got some points put back in my account. 😀

 

 

 

 

 

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12 minutes ago, bbtondo said:

I'm a frequent SW user since SW is the only one that flies into my prior home small airport.

 

Really curious, since I don't know of any place where WN was the sole airline into a city.  Alternate airport yes, (days past at DAL and HOU and MDW).

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Posted (edited)

Flyertalk: 

 

ISP is Southwest controlled for sure.   Although Frontier recently came to ISP and flies out of the older abandoned side of the terminal. Unfortunately they only fly seasonally to SWF.  I am definitely going to try them if they fly when I need them.

 

I can get a nonstop between ISP and some Florida airports.  I prefer nonstops.

 

There are also a few small planes that American has that fly from ISP to PHL. They're 2 to 3 crazy connections at over $600 per person from SWF. The quickest flight they have is 6 hours, most 10-11 hours.  I don't consider that an option for me.

 

Google ISP and check it out.  It's a great small airport.  It's a pleasure flying in and out of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

Edited by bbtondo

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1 hour ago, bbtondo said:

Flyertalk: 

 

ISP is Southwest controlled for sure.   Although Frontier recently came to ISP and flies out of the older abandoned side of the terminal. Unfortunately they only fly seasonally to SWF.  I am definitely going to try them if they fly when I need them.

 

I can get a nonstop between ISP and some Florida airports.  I prefer nonstops.

 

There are also a few small planes that American has that fly from ISP to PHL. They're 2 to 3 crazy connections at over $600 per person from SWF. The quickest flight they have is 6 hours, most 10-11 hours.  I don't consider that an option for me.

 

Have been to ISP.  And because of their AA service, I didn't consider it a "Southwest Only" airport.

 

I guess that you only consider how they work between ISP and Southwest Florida airport.  Not about other flights and routings.

 

And for what it is worth:  SWF is the code for Stewart International Airport in New York.  Southwest Florida airport (Ft Myers) is known as RSW.  And I know of no airline that flies between Islip to Stewart (ISP-SWF).

 

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On ‎5‎/‎30‎/‎2019 at 2:08 PM, hrmkr said:

Can any one explain to me how Southwest does their pricing?

 

 

This could be asked about any airline...….

 

SW isn't often the bargain they used to be.  We still like to fly them when their prices are competitive for our dates.

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On 5/31/2019 at 2:33 PM, Zach1213 said:

 

I understand Southwest has a few reasons for staying off of sites like Expedia, but I'm convinced the main one they won't ever admit is that they don't want people to be able to easily compare them to everyone else, price wise.

Amen...

 

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Southwest is very rarely the least expensive flight from CHS to anywhere I have flown.  I always check their pricing, but have usually already booked a flight on another airline.  My most recent experience is on a flight from New York City at the end of October.  I have a direct, nonstop flight from LGA with an assigned seat in the main cabin which cost me $93 including fees/tax.  The least expensive WN flight I have seen for a comparable departure time is about $221.  That flight included a 2 hour layover in Nashville, so I will leave LGA 3 hours later, arrive in CHS about an hour earlier, and will still have saved money even if I had to pay for 2 pieces of checked luggage.

 

Moral of the story:  Make informed choices.  

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As Southwest has just opened another booking period, I thought we could try an experiment in relation to dates that will be in the next booking period. The experiment won’t produce anything more than a series of anecdotes, but it might be interesting to do this anyway.

 

I have priced a number of trips to some cruise departure points from STL, outbound on Friday 10 January 2020, and inbound on Saturday 18 January 2020, on the basis that this could be a typical pattern for someone doing a 7-night cruise with an overnight pre-cruise stay, a Saturday sailing, and a flight back on the day of cruise disembarkation. I’ve chosen flight times on non-stops where available, on flights that (mostly) will work for cruise disembarkation (the exception was SAN, where the only non-stop back is not at a feasible time for a same day flight and the reality would be either spending one night there post-cruise or picking a different airline).

 

I’ve added one checked bag each way, which would be typical for a one-week cruise.

 

To/from IAH: $508.60 UA Main Cabin + $60 for one bag each way = $568.60

UA4396 1450-1647

UA4339 1200-1408

 

To/from LAX: $511.02 AA Main Cabin + $60 for one bag each way = $571.02

AA670 1625-1831

AA803 1700-2242

 

To/from LGA: $296.60 AA Main Cabin + $60 for one bag each way = $356.60

AA4589 1346-1715

AA4576 1320-1513

 

To/from MCO: $348.40 AA Main Cabin + $60 for one bag each way = $408.40

AA1381 1317-1509 DFW AA2791 1655-2038

AA1951 1628-1820 DFW AA1010 2020-2202

 

To/from MIA: $460.60 AA Main Cabin + $60 for one bag each way = $520.60

AA2226 1635-2022

AA2226 1350-1541

 

To/from SAN: $307.99 AS Main Cabin + $60 for one bag each way = $367.99

AS2437 1640-1830

AS2436 1015-1600

 

To/from SEA: $414.01 AS Main Cabin + $60 for one bag each way = $474.01

AS731 1915-2140

AS730 1215-1815

 

Does anyone want to add to this? We will then see what happens on 10 July 2019 (or whenever the next booking period does actually open).

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