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Southwest bringing back `Friends Fly Free’ promo

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Southwest Airlines said it will bring back its Friends Fly Free program through September in response to the 10 percent excise tax that is being reinstated.

The program involves a three-day advance purchase that lets a customer buy a round-trip ticket at the full unrestricted fare and a traveling companion gets a free round-trip ticket on the same flight. Tickets must be purchased within one day of making a reservation.The fares are available for purchase through May 20 and are good for travel through July 22.

"We're looking at ourselves as the low-fare policemen of the airline industry," said Susan Dahlstrom, area marketing manager for Southwest Airlines. "We're doing our part to keep fares within every traveler's reach, especially when other airlines are raising their fares to compensate for the 10 percent ticket tax."

Dahlstrom said the Friends Fly Free program should help all travelers, since Southwest's move could pressure other airlines to keep their fares low. "But we hope they'll travel on us," she said.

Under the Friends Fly Free program, customers must travel on the same itinerary and need to stay over at least one night. The customer with the ticket must be 18 years old, but the companion could be any age.

Seats are limited and won't always be available on certain flights that run during busy travel times. Tickets are non-refundable, but credit for tickets not used can be applied toward future travel on Southwest Airlines. The fares don't include airport-assessed fees that can be up to $13 on a round-trip ticket.