Southwest Airlines and AirTran Connect Flight Networks

Southwest Airlines 737's at BWI

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737’s at BWI Airport

All AirTran Flights Added to Southwest Network

March 20, 2013 – Louisville, KY (FlyersPulse.com): As Southwest Airlines nears completion of their merger with AirTran Airways, the next step for the carrier is to connect the networks of the two airlines. This initially began on January 26 as the two connected networks in five markets – on February 25th, this grew to 39 cities. Today, consumers can now purchase itineraries to the airlines’ combined 97 destinations, including all international cities, all in one transaction.

When it comes to checked baggage, the following condition applies: Any itinerary with a Southwest segment or that is purchased through a Southwest point-of-sale channel will not have bag fees for the first or second checked bag. We encourage consumers keep this in mind when purchasing tickets.

The two carriers have joined their networks through an extensive network of codeshare and marketing agreements as AirTran is still a separate airline, but importantly, a subsidiary of Southwest Airlines.

As a result of the flight networks being combined through the use of codeshare agreements, consumers may now combine AirTran domestic flights to a Southwest itinerary, with tickets booked via Southwest Airlines. If you’re booking via AirTran, you now have the option to add Southwest operated flights to your itinerary. Finally, you may use Southwest’s booking engine to book an all AirTran operated domestic itinerary.


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International Flights

The big changes arrive when it comes to international travel on Southwest Airlines. Most importantly, consumers may now add international AirTran flights to a Southwest itinerary. At this point, AirTran operates all international flights due to limitations with the Southwest Airlines information technology platform.

When a consumer selects an international itinerary via Southwest Airlines, the booking will be transferred over to AirTran for booking, purchase, and ticketing.

Bob Jordan, Chief Commercial Officer at Southwest Airlines and President of AirTran, said, “We began rolling out shared itineraries in January in a handful of markets, and we’ve gradually ramped up the initiative where we now connect our entire network across both Southwest and AirTran.” Jordan continued, “With a connected network, we can offer Customers more itineraries, more destinations, more low fares, and a taste of what’s to come once the integration is complete.”

AirTran offers flights to a variety of popular destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean – with the latest enhancement US consumers will now have another choice when it comes to these popular markets.


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Frequent Flyer Programs: Earning and Redeeming

Regardless of which carrier you fly, you’ll be able to earn and redeem frequent flyer “currency” through the marketing carrier, regardless of whether Southwest or AirTran operates the flight. Marketing carrier simply means where you purchased the ticket, AirTran or Southwest.

Seating will depend on the carrier operating the flight. If Southwest is operating the flight, there will be open seating based on your boarding number; if AirTran is operating the flight, consumers can obtain seat assignments.

If you’ll be flying with either carrier, it’s suggested you enroll in both the AirTran Airways A+ Rewards and Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards programs because consumers now have the ability to transfer points between the two frequent flyer programs at www.rewardsfarther.com.

Full Integration Expected End of 2014

Southwest acquired AirTran back in September of 2010 and expects to have the two carriers fully integrated by the end of 2014.

As Southwest is an all Boeing 737 operator, all AirTran Boeing 717-200’s will be subleased to competitor Delta Air Lines, while AirTran’s Boeing 737-700 aircraft are converted into the Southwest Airlines fleet. To date, five AirTran cities have been converted to Southwest Airlines operations.

Through the use of one aircraft type, the Boeing 737, Southwest Airlines is able to run a highly efficient network of flights across the United States.


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