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Bargain hunter alert: Southwest offers fares as low as $49 — but read the fine print

Southwest Airlines airpline jet flying
Southwest Airlines is offering discounts on almost all flights between late-August and mid-December. Photo by Dylan Ashe/Wikipedia

Fresh off a fine for false advertising, Southwest Airlines is debuting a new ad campaign promising $49 one-way flights. This time, though, there looks to be enough fine print to cover their tail wing. 

The one-way fares range from $49 to $149 and are available only on tickets purchased for travel between Aug. 25 and Dec. 17 — traditionally an off-peak time to take a trip. To snag the cheap flights, tickets must be purchased by June 5.

Discount seats out of Houston include $49 flights to Austin, Dallas, Corpus Christi, Harlingen, New Orleans, San Antonio and Tulsa. A $99 ticket will get you to Chicago, Orlando and St. Louis, and $129 flights are up for grabs for New York City, Las Vegas, Washington and Los Angeles. The fine print is plentiful and far-reaching, with statements indicating that seats are limited and discount tickets aren't valid for flights on Fridays or Sundays. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation fined Southwest $200,000 last month for television ads for $59 flights from Atlanta to New York, Los Angeles and Chicago in 2013. DOT investigators later discovered no such tickets were available. In a statement, Southwest said it immediately pulled the ads when it realized the error.

Southwest was slapped with another false advertising fine for promising $100 tickets for Valentine's Day travel. In reality, less than 2 percent of seats were available at that price. 

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