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Which Airlines Are Matching Southwest's Sale Fares?

Major airlines appear to have selectively matched the sale fares that Southwest and subsidiary AirTran unveiled on Tuesday, according to a Wednesday-morning spot-check of fares by Today in the Sky.

Southwest Airlines planes
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Southwest Airlines planes

American, Delta, United, US Airways are matching Southwest's fares — as low as $96 round-trip on some routes — in certain markets. But other markets appear to be largely unaffected.

One route where rivals are matching Southwest's sale fares comes on the Los Angeles-Phoenix route. Four major airlines — American, Delta, United and US Airways — are matching Southwest's sale fare of $98 round-trip (as of our Wednesday morning spot-check).

On other routes — such as Atlanta-Jacksonville — Southwest's rivals did not match Southwest's lowest-available sale fares. Southwest subsidiary AirTran's sale fare of $98 round trip for a nonstop flight trumped Delta's $193 nonstop fare for our selected travel dates.

And, at the other end of the spectrum, Southwest's rivals actually are offering better deals than Southwest on some other routes. One of those is Baltimore-Detroit, where our spot check found a $98 round-trip fare on Delta that topped Southwest's best offering of $149 for our selected travel dates. Southwest's $98 round-trip fare on the route was still available on other dates.

Southwest launched its 72-hour fare sale Tuesday, matching fares to the distance of its flights. Flights of less than 500 miles are available for $49 each way while flights of more than 1,300 miles are $139 each way. Intermediate flights — 501 to 1,300 miles — are $99 each way.

The sale fares cover travel from late summer through most of the fall, a period where demand for leisure travel typically falls as students' summer breaks wind down and families curtail vacations following the Labor Day holiday in early September.

Scroll down for a sampling of routes to see how — or if — major carriers have matched the Southwest/AirTran sale fares:

Baltimore-Detroit
Dates: Depart Aug. 16, return Aug. 21
Cheapest Southwest fare: $149 (nonstop)
Other available fares: Delta, $98 (nonstop); United, $120 (1 stop); US Airways $138 (1 stop)

Chicago-San Francisco
Dates: Depart Sept. 13, return Sept. 17
Cheapest Southwest fare: $278 (nonstop)
Other available fares: Virgin America, $278 (nonstop); American, $300 (nonstop); United, $300 (nonstop)

Charleston, S.C.-Nashville
Dates: Depart Sept. 20, return Sept. 24
Cheapest Southwest fare: $96 (nonstop)
Other available fares: United, $110 (1 stop); US Airways, $115 (1 stop), Delta, $160 (1 stop)

Houston-Dallas
Dates: Depart Sept. 20, return Sept. 24
Cheapest Southwest fare: $96 (nonstop)
Other available fares: United, $119 (nonstop); American, $158 (nonstop)

Denver-Las Vegas
Dates: Depart Sept. 1, return Sept. 3
Cheapest Southwest fare: $217 (nonstop)
Other available fares: Spirit, $248 (nonstop); US Airways, $249 (1 stop); Delta, $315 (1 stop)

Atlanta-Jacksonville, Fla.
Dates: Depart Sept. 20, return Sept. 24
Cheapest Southwest fare: $98 (nonstop)
Other available fares: Delta, $193 (nonstop)

Newark-St. Louis
Dates: Depart Oct. 11, return Oct. 15
Cheapest Southwest fare: $198 (nonstop)
Other available fares: United, $298 (nonstop)

Los Angeles-Phoenix
Dates: Depart Oct. 11, return Oct. 15
Cheapest Southwest fare: $98 (nonstop)
Other available fares: American, $98 (nonstop); Delta, $98 (nonstop); United, $98, (nonstop); US Airways $98 (nonstop)

Seattle-Oakland
Dates: Depart Oct. 18, return Oct. 22
Cheapest Southwest fare: $198 (nonstop)
Other available fares: Alaska Airlines, $198 (nonstop); American, $198 (nonstop, codeshare on Alaska Air flights)

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