Southwest Airlines announces new fare sale

DALLAS - Southwest Airlines Co. on Tuesday launched a new fare sale for late fall and winter, although it includes plenty of limits and blackout dates around the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays.

The airline said seats to some destinations would start at $59 each way, but seats are limited.

The sale prices apply to travel from Oct. 13 through Feb. 11 but aren't available Fridays and Sundays and won't be offered on some flights from Nov. 24 to Dec. 1 and from Dec. 17 to Jan. 3.

Southwest said sale examples included $59 one-way between Phoenix and San Diego, and $89 one-way between Boston-area airports and Chicago's Midway Airport. Southwest said fares would vary by destination, flight, and day of travel.

Tom Parsons, chief executive of discount travel site, said the sale prices were higher than they were for other recent Southwest promotions and up to 50 percent higher than during a big fare sale this summer.

Parsons said Southwest is raising fares to make up for the downturn in business travel and the revenue it leaves behind by not charging baggage fees.

Southwest doesn't charge for checking a first or second bag. CEO Gary Kelly has said that policy will remain through this year, but he hasn't made any promises to let bags fly free in 2010.

Southwest shares fell 10 cents to $9.68 in afternoon trading.