Airtran Southwest Airlines

February 11, 2012 by staff 

Airtran Southwest Airlines, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution , Q: What flights is Southwest launching from Atlanta?

A: Southwest launches its first flights from Atlanta Feb. 12 with routes to Austin, Baltimore/Washington, Chicago, Denver and Houston Hobby. Then in March it will begin flying to Las Vegas and Phoenix, in June to Los Angeles and in August to Norfolk, Louisville and Seattle/Tacoma.

Q: How is Southwest any different from Delta Air Lines or AirTran Airways?

A: Southwest has open seating, meaning it does not give travelers seat assignments. It has an unusual boarding system, allowing you a place in line to board the plane based primarily on how early you check in for your flight. It does not charge fees for the first and second checked bags, and does not charge change fees. Southwest also doesn’t sell its flights through websites like Travelocity and Orbitz, choosing to sell its fares only through its own website.

Q: What will happen to AirTran flights?

A: AirTran will continue flying in some form for a couple of years, as Southwest gradually converts AirTran planes into the Southwest fleet. You can still buy tickets on AirTran through AirTran’s website, you can still check in for AirTran flights at AirTran ticket counters and fly on AirTran planes. Southwest acquired AirTran last year, is operating it as a subsidiary and expects to get a single operating certificate from the federal government in March, giving it clearance to combine the two airlines and begin in earnest the process of converting AirTran’s flight operations into Southwest over the next couple of years. Seattle will be the first AirTran operation that Southwest will fully convert to Southwest service, effective in August.

Q: Is Southwest discontinuing any of AirTran’s flights from Atlanta?

A: Yes, Southwest has announced it is discontinuing AirTran’s flights from Atlanta to White Plains, N.Y.; Sarasota, Fla.; Atlantic City, N.J.; Newport News, Va.; Dulles International in Washington, D.C.; and Bloomington/Normal in Illinois.

Q: How big is Southwest in Atlanta versus AirTran and Delta?

A: With Southwest’s launch of flights Feb.12 in Atlanta, it will operate 15 daily flights from Hartsfield-Jackson. AirTran operates roughly 170, while Delta operates nearly 1,000. The number of AirTran flights will gradually decline over the next couple of years as Southwest gradually takes over its service.

Q: What happens to AirTran’s business class seating?

A: Southwest plans to eventually eliminate AirTran’s business class seating as it converts the planes to Southwest’s all-coach class system.

Q: What about AirTran’s assigned seating?

A: Southwest does not offer assigned seating and plans to discontinue AirTran’s assigned seating as it transitions to Southwest service.

Q: What happens to AirTran frequent flier credits?

A: Southwest plans to merge AirTran’s A+ rewards members into its Rapid Rewards frequent flier program, but it has not disclosed how it will convert AirTran members’ credits into the Southwest program.

Q: Will I still have to pay AirTran’s checked baggage fees?

A: Since Southwest does not charge fees for the first and second checked bags, it has said it plans to eliminate AirTran’s bag fees. It has not said exactly when, however.

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