Atlanta Fliers and the Southwest Airlines Acquisition of AirTran

Southwest Airlines Moves into Atlanta

By now you’re aware of Southwest Airlines’ major announcement: that it has acquired one of its competitors – the low cost carrier AirTran.

For Southwest, this also means the acquisition of about 200 departures  per day out of Hartsfield-Jackson International - the world’s busiest airport – where previously, Southwest had no presence at all. In other words, Southwest will be in an excellent position to take advantage of lucrative business travel in and out of Atlanta – not to mention the tantalizing possibility of international flights.

For AirTran employees, it means being assimilated into a kindred corporate culture, which under Southwest has meant hard working employees who manage to have fun while taking very good care of their customers.

What this Means for Atlanta Fliers

For Atlanta fliers, the good news is a likely reduction in those dreaded airline fees.

No Bag Fees

AirTran currently charges $20 each-way for a first checked-bag fee, and $25 each-way for the second. Southwest allows passengers two free bags. Passengers who opt for two would see immediate savings of $90 roundtrip.

Southwest has said it has “no plans” to change its extremely popular policy of “bags fly free”. The airline’s executives have also said they plan to retain its open seating policy (although fliers can cut ahead if they purchase Southwest’s $10 EarlyBird boarding fee).

Compare Airline Fees – Southwest vs. AirTran

(For more information, see Domestic Airline Fee Chart to compare all fees)





Checked Bag Fee free First bag $20 each-way
Second bag $25 each-way

Ticket Change Fees free $75 change fee

Phone Reservations free $15 when you book by phone

Overweight Bags 75 lb bag costs $50 75 lb bag costs $79

Find a Good Deal on a Flight from Atlanta Now

More Fee Savings with Southwest

There are other fees travelers will save on due to the Southwest acquisition of AirTran, including itinerary change fees (AirTran charges for this service, while Southwest does not) and phone reservation fees (again, this is a free service on Southwest).

Meanwhile, the integration and regulatory approval process won’t happen overnight; it could take a few months or the process could take up to two years to complete.

If all goes well, though, fliers in Atlanta will eventually say goodbye to AirTran, and look for Southwest jets flying into Hartsfield-Jackson in the near future.

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’s acquisition of AirTran is certainly a smart move

New York: A growing footprint, Southwest Airlines adds more LaGuardia slots


Published: September 27, 2010