Southwest exploits Chicago late-bookers who want to avoid O’Hare and get some Florida sun

Southwest’s reputation as the world’s most consistently successful low-cost carrier owes a lot not just to its low costs but more importantly its ability to generate consistent profits. This involves knowing when fares can be raised to take advantage of high demand in peak periods.

This week’s exclusive farewatch looks at competition for passengers wishing to travel the 1,900km from Chicago to Fort Lauderdale in Florida during the next two weeks.

Chart: Chicago to FT Lauderdale one way fares
Source: Airline websites on Sunday 26th August
Green shaded period is Saturday/Sunday

Southwest is the only one of the four carriers to operate from Chicago’s Midway airport and offers five daily flights compared with the six daily fights that the other carriers from O’Hare manage between them.

For imminent travel Southwest’s fares are significantly above its competitors at over $300 for a one-way flight including all fares and taxes. However, if passengers can plan to book at least a week in advance, Southwest’s fares drop in line with those of its rivals.

American and Ted (United’s in-house LCC) match each other’s fares very closely, but the cheapest airline overall is Spirit. This may have something to do with the airline’s only departure being at 06:00 and so price is needed to lure passengers out to O’Hare that early in the morning.


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