U.S. airlines are almost seeing one quarter of the passengers who traveled pre-pandemic. That’s nearly all domestic travel, so benefits Southwest disproportionately relative to United.
Ned Russell points out newly announced sales from Southwest, Alaska, and JetBlue. Sun Country and Allegiant are out with sale emails too. Traditionally Tuesdays are big for promoting airline sales, but seeing everyone do it suggests they now believe,
- Passengers are more open to travel
- And can be motivated again by price
Dawn Gilbertson notes that traditionally Southwest Airlines promoted sales ‘start at $49’ but this one promotes $39 airfares. Low fares are a leading indicator of airline recovery because they suggest it’s possible to convince people to travel. Up until now many people have been unwilling to travel at any price.
To be sure, many people still will not travel (and some people still should not travel). Sales target leisure travelers, not business travelers who will take longer to return. And the overall economy will be a drag on air travel demand.
Customers overall are booking later, so sales now many help July traffic more than end of summer, given the amount of uncertainty in the country. However the cheapest prices in Southwest’s sale appear to start around August 10. I expect that July will be stronger than June for air traffic and I am hopeful that August will be stronger still, though that may depend on the direction the virus takes in the U.S. as time passes.
Southwest delayed their ‘semi-annual’ sale a few weeks compared to when they usually run deals over the summer. However August is a traditional start for when those fares become available. That comforts me, because I’d otherwise start to worry that August was looking soft relative to July.
Southwest flags several routes where $39 one-ways are available, including Baltimore – Charlotte, Charleston, Detroit, Hartford; Chicago Midway – Indianapolis, Cleveland, Cincinnati; Phoenix – Las Vegas, Albuquerque, San Diego; Houston Hobby – New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Dallas Love Field, San Antonio; Detroit Chicago Midway, Nashville, St. Louis.
Deals are available until December 17, with Thanksgiving blacked out by Labor Day weekend available (suggesting this year does – of course – remain a challenging one). Sale fares often exclude Fridays and Sundays.