Southwest has opened up another month of their schedule with bookings now available through April 6, 2014.
Most airlines allow new bookings around 330 days out whereas Southwest generally opens up their schedule around 90-180 days. There are no federal holidays over this newly opened period but booking early never hurts with Southwest.
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 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, and rebooking to be included in promotions. 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 next window of availability
Southwest has indicated the next window of availability will open on October 14, 2013 which will enable bookings through June 6, 2014. A quick hint. I always keep an eye on the calendar and can tell you 99% of the time the calendar actually opens a few days before the date they suggest. Happy bookings!