Air Fares Discounted Through the Fall

Airlines hit by the global economic crisis have been offering quick fare-sales since the start of the year, hoping to jump-start weak demand among business and leisure travelers. With this shaping up as a sluggish summer and the coming fall looking like it will be similarly slow, major discounters are rolling out new airfare sales for travel from late summer deep into fall.

The nation’s biggest low-cost carrier, Southwest Airlines (Stock Quote: LUV), is following up a big sale from just 10 days ago with another big one. Savings can be substantial, though, as always, there are catches: There are blackout dates from Sept. 3-8, the sale is good for travel only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, and the number of seats available at cut-rate prices is limited.

One sample fare: Southwest ( is offering one-way fares from Washington, D.C. to Chicago from $69, before taxes and fees that add about another $17. Another example: Tampa Bay to Philadelphia from $98 one-way, again before taxes and fees. All tickets must be purchased by July 30.

The Orlando low-cost carrier AirTran (Stock quote: AAI) is getting in on the act with a fare sale of its own. One-way tickets on AirTran ( from Atlanta to Charlotte start at $39, and one-way from Orlando to Atlantic City are $54. Lowest fares are for travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Blackout dates are Nov. 24-25 and Nov. 28-30. Tickets must be purchased by July 28 and are good for travel through Dec. 16.

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