Washington D.C. Fliers and the Southwest Acquisition of AirTran

Southwest Airlines Expands in Washington D.C.

Southwest’s acquisition of AirTran is certainly a smart move for the carrier, since it provides a great opportunity to further expand its presence in the greater Washington D.C. area. Southwest currently has only a few slots at Washington Reagan, but it also flies into Washington Dulles and Baltimore. AirTran’s Reagan slots will only increase the influence of Southwest here.

When the integration of the two carriers is complete, resulting in a bigger Southwest, watch the airline to be better positioned than ever for lucrative business travel out of the nation’s capital.

What this Means for Washington Fliers

For Washington fliers, good news on the fee front  Southwest is far more generous than AirTran when it comes to saving money on fees.

No Bag Fees

Like most airlines, AirTran charges for checked-bags: $20 each-way for a first checked-bag fee, and $25 each-way for the second. Southwest gives its passengers two free bags – so for those who like to pack heavy (using two bags), that’s an immediate savings of $90 roundtrip, just by flying with Southwest.

And Southwest does not charge a dime for change fees or a phone reservation fee, in contrast to AirTran (and most of the other carriers).

Southwest has said it has no plans to change its fee policies and executives specifically mentioned the airline’s popular and effective “bags fly free” catchphrase. Nor are changes anticipated in Southwest’s open seating policy (although fliers can move to the front of the line if they purchase Southwest’s $10 EarlyBird boarding fee).

Compare Airline Fees – Southwest vs. AirTran





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 Washington Now

Meanwhile, the integration and regulatory approval process for the acquisition could take anywhere from a few months to as long as two years.

Assuming all goes well, Washingtonians will soon be saying farewell to AirTran, and looking for more Southwest jets heading to Reagan in the near future.

Will Bags Fly Free when Southwest Moves Into These Cities?

Atlanta: Southwest adds business travelers and more from Hartsfield

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

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

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



Published: September 27, 2010