Airlines Offer Cheap Flights for Off-Peak Travel as JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and Frontier Look to Fill Seats

By Jessel Renolayan

Nov 12, 2023 11:07 PM EST

Airlines drop fare sales are expected to fill 260 million seats this quarter. Carriers like Southwest Airlines have recently offered one-way fares as low as $29 for off-peak flights, signaling an industry-wide push to entice passengers during traditionally slower travel periods.

At the Skift Aviation Forum earlier this month, Southwest's chief commercial officer Ryan Green told reporters, "I would characterize the amount of discounting or sales that we're doing today as a bit more than normal," CNBC reported.

jetBlue kiosk
(Photo : ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP via Getty Images)

Leisure travelers have reverted to traditional booking habits after years of pandemic fluctuations, leaving airlines to seek strategies for filling planes during non-peak periods.

According to aviation data firm Cirium, airlines have scheduled a record 259.8 million domestic seats in the fourth quarter, a nearly 8% increase from last year, on 1.86 million flights, up 6% from 2022.

Balancing off-season operations is challenging for airlines, primarily earning revenue in the busy spring and summer seasons. According to CNBC, most major carriers reported record revenue and strong demand during those periods, with some executives reporting higher growth for international destinations over domestic ones.

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JetBlue, Spirit, and Frontier Say Average Fares Are Dropping

In September, US inflation data revealed a more than 13% decrease in airfare compared to the previous year, contrasting with the general rise in overall consumer prices.

According to CNBC, JetBlue Airways said average fares fell more than 12% in the third quarter during the same period of last year to $201.73.

Budget carrier Spirit Airlines noted that fares decreased nearly 28% from a year earlier to $48.73, though non-ticket revenue, which includes add-ons such as seat selection fees and checked bags, increased 1% to $67.70.

Fellow ultra-discounter Frontier Airlines said fares averaged slightly over $39 in the last quarter, down 32% from a year ago. CNBC also reported that all three carriers forecast losses for the last three months of the year.

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