• Southwest Airlines is holding a major fare sale right now, offering cheap flights to anyone who needs to travel soon.
  • Because the coronavirus pandemic is still a major problem, Southwest is one of the major US airlines that’s still flying at a reduced capacity and keeping middle seats open, so that’s a solid point in its favor.
  • Another is this latest fare sale, which is offering flights for as low as $49.

The last time I wrote one of these posts announcing a massive fare sale for travelers on the hunt for cheap flights was five months ago, but it might as well have been five years back. It’s mind-boggling to think about how different travel was and how much the world was about to change in just a few short weeks following the last time we told you about a Southwest Airlines fare sale. But just because we have another to talk about today, of course, that doesn’t mean the coronavirus pandemic and all its terrible side effects are now a thing of the past or that travel is finally back to normal.

What it does mean is that travel is slowly but surely starting to show a few signs of life again after demand collapsed over the past few months. Because who would want to get on a crowded plane in the middle of a pandemic, unsure about the health of passengers around you, right? If you do have to fly right now, Southwest is definitely one airline to consider for reasons that include its stated policy of keeping middle seats open and flying planes at a reduced capacity through at least September 30 (to promote social distancing). That’s good, because a new study has found that airlines like United and American Airlines which have resumed booking full flights roughly double the statistical chance that one of their passengers could catch the coronavirus compared to a flight that keeps middle seats open.

If Southwest already has your attention thanks to consumer-friendly policies like the open middle seats, the fare sale we mentioned will surely be an added bonus. You can get all the details here about the sale, but the key points include:

  • You have to book your flight by August 13 at 11:59 p.m., Central Time.
  • A 14-day advance purchase is required. Purchases are nonrefundable, and seats, travel days, and markets are limited. Blackout dates also apply.
  • If you’re planning to use this sale for continental US travel, you can do that between August 11 and December 17.
  • If you’re headed to San Juan, Puerto Rico, you can use this sale to do that between August 18 and December 3, and international travel is valid between August 18 through December 9.

As we said, we’ve seen flights as low as $49 as part of this new sale — but there’s another reason worth pointing out that further indicates the unusual travel period we’re still in.

Normally, these kinds of fare sales would drop, and travelers might only have a few days at most to lock in their purchases. Take a look again at that first bullet point above, though. You’ve got almost an entire month to get your flights lined up here, so there’s plenty of time to take advantage of this fare sale. Moreover, we expect to see more of these kinds of sales in the near future, as carriers bend over backward to try to encourage people to travel and fly again.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.