Southwest quietly opened up their schedule through January 5, 2014 which includes the often challenging end of year holiday travel!
Most airlines allow new bookings around 330 days out whereas Southwest generally opens up their schedule around 90-180 days. The importance of this particular schedule opening is that it covers 3 of the busiest travel holidays where airfares usually spike and airfare gouging inevitably occurs. If you haven’t booked your holiday travel yet, now is the best time!
The Southwest advantage
What makes being first to book even more attractive on Southwest is that you can book speculatively on both revenue and awards reservations! Southwest will refund your money in the form a Southwest dollar credit if you choose not to take the flight. Similarly, if booking a flight on points, Southwest will refund all points to your account. All taxes are refunded in full to your credit statement. This can be very useful if your holiday plans are not completely finalized at this point.
Keep checking the airfare even after you book
Most people are used to checking airfare until the purchase is made and then ending their interest in the transaction. Southwest is the opposite. The first fare you pay is only the starting bid. Those seeking a better fare can continue to check the same flight and take advantage of fare sales, fare reductions due to capacity, rebooking to be included in promotions, and in one case I rebooked all my tickets to reduce taxes because lawmakers were squabbling over the FAA and let a tax expire temporarily. Southwest does not charge any change fees so when you see a lower fare on your route, you can rebook (call or online) and take the difference as a credit for a future flight.
The bottom line
I jumped all over this. How about you?