From what I have read Southwest locked in their fuel prices for a couple of years out, which gave them a big advantage several months ago when fuel was so high. Now fuel has dropped and Southwest is locked in to a higher rate than other airlines are paying making it harder for them to be as competitive as they used to be.
I was holding off booking March flights from Portland to Phoenix until today, and was online literally seconds after SWA opened the schedule up to include my planned travel dates.
I've got a bunch of SWA award flights I was planning to use, but despite SWA having 10 flights (some with connections of course) between PDX and PHX for the dates I want to travel (which aren't "black-out" dates for SWA award travel), not a single "standard award" was available on my planned days of travel (on either end) or the days before or after my planned days of travel.
I checked a couple weeks later on the schedule and the lower fares are available. I do have the option of driving 2 hours to another airport and get airfares more in line with what I was hoping to get on Southwest. The lower fares on this Airtran flight is also a non-stop flight (as was the SW flight). I just have to decide now if my destination to Cocoa Beach for Spring Break is going to be worth the hassle of a 2-hr drive to and from the airport or just forget about the trip. I would have to pay double with Southwest to avoid this drive, which I'm not willing to do.