Southwest Airlines Co.'s 72 hour seat sale proved to be too much of a good thing, as huge public response slowed the website to a crawl on Wednesday.
Despite adding capacity for the website in anticipation of high demand from a 3-day sale that began Tuesday, visitors to southwest.com late Wednesday afternoon saw a "system alert" warning that "you may experience difficulty" on the site.
Users who could actually start the booking process eventually got a "Gateway Timeout," preventing them from snagging the hot tickets.
Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King said workers were trying to restore the website's functions and advised customers to try later or call the airline directly for help.
The sale featured prices as low as $49 on one-way short haul flights and $149 each way for long haul trips, between Aug. 25th and Dec. 16th.
What travelers may not have noticed is that both American Airlines and United Airlines were matching Southwest's fares on routes that overlap.
Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com , also found Delta, Alaska, Virgin America and Frontier also had fares matching Southwest on overlapping routes.
Mr Seaney advised consumers not to despair, as booking fall flights during the first week of June will result in the best prices of the year, regardless of whether you happened to get one of Southwest's super-cheap tickets.
There was no word from Southwest as of mid-day Thursday if the promotion would be extended due to the website outages.