On Tuesday, June 30th, Southwest is opening their schedule for bookings through March 8, 2016. This extension (from the current schedule bookable through January 4) adds a couple of holiday weekends as well as any mid-winter school holidays.
We’re planning a return trip to Roatan for March and work schedules are uncertain, so I’m not sure if we’ll wind up traveling in January or February, but we’ll definitely be booking some trips. I’m thinking Puerto Rico and Belize. For the same weekend, of course. It’s Southwest, book early and often, and ask questions later!
As I wrote about at the last schedule extension, Southwest’s new points valuation fluctuates as various fare classes sell out. So ‘you snooze, you lose’ is now, ‘you snooze, you can lose big-time’. A 5% fare increase that used to result in a 5% points price increase may now create a 12% or higher points price increase as the number of points required per base fare dollar rises from 70 to 74, 76 and finally 78 or 80.
Leveraging Southwest points to save money and/or other points
In March, Dia at The Deal Mommy announced that the next Family Travel for Real Life conference would be October 24 near Washington D.C. with DCA the most convenient airport and IAD also a possibility. Within a couple of hours I had researched the following options to get there:
- The lowest cost for a paid ticket was Southwest at $400, with an excellent schedule. This would earn 2048 points worth $30. Or I could (and did) book it for 24K Southwest points.
- Next was United at $420 nonstop to IAD, also a good schedule but not available with miles. So I could pay $420 or 30K Flexperks points and earn 2100 miles.
- AA had a decent schedule, no coach award seats and a $520 price tag. No way I’m paying that, but I could have booked it for 30K Flexperks points and earned about 7000 Alaska miles due to my status with Alaska.
- Delta had seats for 35K miles but not a very good schedule.
So, as I said, I booked the Southwest ticket. Then, months later when AA ran a sale, the AA flights I wanted dropped from$520 to $357, and I booked them with 22,000 ThankYou points from Citi. Most of those had been earned with my Citigold bank account and couldn’t be transferred to airline partners or other TYP members. I’ll still earn those 7K Alaska miles for flying this paid AA ticket, so I call that a decent deal. (How I wish we had someone like Frontier to shake up the quadropoly that hums along with very little excess capacity here!) I haven’t cancelled the Southwest ticket yet, but the flexibility of my Southwest points allowed me to save points and hold out for a better deal.
On that note, I’d love to see you in D.C. in October!
The short version
Southwest is extending their schedule through March 8, 2016 tomorrow. If you have Southwest points and might need any travel during the winter months, book it! As many different ways as you can! You might as well wait a month or so, or until travel plans are set, to add companions using your companion pass.