New York Fliers and the Southwest Acquisition of AirTran

Southwest Expands in New York’s LaGuardia

Southwest’s acquisition of AirTran gives the carrier a bigger foothold in the New York area; it already had a few slots at LaGuardia and, combined with AirTran’s LaGuardia slots plus the Newark slots that Southwest received in the wake of the United/Continental merger, Southwest’s metro-New York footprint is growing.

For New York fliers, this means more low cost nonstop flights and the possibility of seeing legacy carriers dropping prices on overlapping routes. However, New York is an expensive metro area to fly in and out of and a foothold does not necessarily translate into the “next big step” but the AirTran acquisition certainly puts the Dallas-based carrier in a better position than ever.

What this Means for New York Fliers

For New York fliers, the good news is the bigger low cost route network to take advantage of, plus saving money on fees with Southwest.

No Bag Fees

Most are aware that AirTran charges for checked-bags (as do most carriers): $20 each-way for a first checked-bag fee on AirTran, and $25 each-way for the second. Southwest, however, gives its passengers two free bags, so travelers who like to use two and pack heavy will immediately see a savings of $90 roundtrip on Southwest.

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

And Southwest does not charge a fee for changing itineraries (which can cost up to $150 on other airlines) nor does it charge a fee to make airline reservations by phone (again, as do most other carriers including AirTran).

When Southwest announced its acquisition of AirTran, executives at Southwest said they has no plans to change fee policies and they specifically mentioned the Southwest’s popular and effective catchphrase, “bags fly free”. They also indicated no changes would be forthcoming to Southwest’s open seating policy (although fliers can move to the front of the line if they purchase Southwest’s $10 EarlyBird boarding fee).

Find a Good Deal on a Flight from New York Now

Now that the acquisition has been made public, the hard work of integration and the regulatory approval process begins; this could take anywhere from a few months to as long as two years.

Assuming all goes well, New Yorkers will soon be saying so long to AirTran, and looking for more Southwest jets at LaGuardia 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, Southwests adds more LaGuardia slots


Published: September 27, 2010