Southwest Airlines has extended its fall fare sale until the end of the day on Friday after its website slowed to a crawl due to an unexpectedly heavy response from consumers.
Visitors to southwest.com saw a “system alert” late Wednesday afternoon warning that “you may experience difficulty.” When one visitor tried to book a trip, there was no immediate response, and eventually the screen flipped to a “Gateway Timeout.”
On Thursday morning, Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King said via email that airline teams “have worked nonstop to correct website functionality and we continue to focus on fully restoring the site.”
King said Wednesday that the airline added capacity to the website in anticipation of high demand for a sale that began Tuesday. But the response was bigger than expected.
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The sale included prices as low as $49 one way on short trips and $149 each way for long trips, covering travel from Aug. 25 to Dec. 16. Like most airline sales, this one had many conditions, including blackout dates around Labor Day and Thanksgiving, and Southwest didn’t say how many seats would be available at the sale price.
American Airlines and United Airlines confirmed that they matched Southwest’s fares on routes where they compete.
Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com, said Delta, Alaska, Virgin America and Frontier also had fares matching Southwest on overlapping routes, although he added that it was “hard to tell who matched and who initiated” because so many new fares were filed Tuesday. The first week in June is a perennial time for fall-travel sales, he said.
This article includes material from the Star-Telegram.