Southwest Officially Acquires AirTran: What it Means to You

Southwest and AirTran

Southwest Airlines has now officially announced the “closing of its acquisition” of fellow low cost carrier AirTran, but don’t look for much in the way of change just yet.

No Changes for Southwest, AirTran for Now

Both airlines say it’s “business as usual” – meaning for now, each will continue to fly as a separate airline with its own distinct miles programs, fee policies and airplane colors, but the slow process of integration has begun – and you will likely see meaningful change starting in 2012.

Customers can keep up with the latest changes via the Southwest Website.

More Competition from Southwest

Back when the acquisition was first announced in October of 2010, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly had this to say: Our new, broader national presence will benefit many markets as a result of increased competition stimulated by Southwest low fares and well-known brand. This includes significant opportunities to and from Atlanta, the largest domestic market we do not serve. Atlanta, of course, is headquarters of Delta Air Lines.

Southwest and the Free Bags

Yes, Southwest has said it plans to continue its popular policies including “two free bags” and no change fee, and it will not switch home airports from Dallas’ Love Field to DFW which is where AirTran flies. However, AirTran is expected to vacate its corporate headquarters in Orlando for integration in Dallas.

What may not change much is the efficient yet casual customer-pleasing corporate culture passengers have come to expect, since both airlines have long prided themselves on a similar philosophy of giving passengers good value for their money.

New Routes and Airport Cities

The Southwest acquisition of AirTran will open up some new routes for Southwest; here are some changes to look for:

Will Bags Fly Free when Southwest Moves Into:

Atlanta: Southwest adds business travelers and more from Hartsfield

Boston: With few overlapping routes, Boston is a coup for Southwest

Dallas: Find out – Will Southwest fans fly from DFW?

Washington, DC: Southwest acquisition of AirTran is certainly a smart move

New York: A growing footprint, Southwests adds more LaGuardia slots

Rick Seaney of FareCompare on Southwest-AirTran Deal

FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney reacted to the initial news of the airline acquisition last fall, calling it two “mega-sized” discount carriers getting together to form one “ultra-sized low cost airline”:

Learn more about FareCompare and the cheapest days to fly and best times to buy airline tickets for year-round savings.


Updated: November 11, 2015