Southwest Airlines has completed connecting its own and subsidiary AirTran Airways’ networks.
Customers are now able to purchase itineraries to the airlines’ combined 97 destinations, including international destinations, in one transaction, according to Southwest Airlines. Newly connected itineraries are now available for booking via all Southwest and AirTran sales channels, for service starting on April 14.
“We began rolling out shared itineraries in January in a handful of markets, and we’ve gradually ramped up the initiative where we now connect our entire network across both Southwest and AirTran,” says Bob Jordan, chief commercial officer at Southwest Airlines and president of AirTran Airways.
“With a connected network, we can offer customers more itineraries, more destinations, more low fares, and a taste of what’s to come once the integration is complete,” adds Jordan.
Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways took the first step in connecting their networks on January 26 by offering a small number of connected itineraries in five markets. On February 25 the airlines launched connected itineraries in 39 cities.
By connecting the Southwest and AirTran networks, customers may:
● Add one or more AirTran domestic flight segments to a Southwest itinerary using Southwest booking channels, including southwest.com, 1-800-IFLYSWA, travel agencies, Southwest’s mobile site and apps, and Southwest Airlines ticket counters;
● Book one or more Southwest flight segments connecting to an AirTran itinerary using AirTran channels, including airtran.com, 1-800-AIRTRAN, AirTran Airways ticket counters, and travel agencies;
● Use all Southwest channels to book an AirTran-only domestic itinerary;
● Add an international AirTran segment to a Southwest itinerary within a single reservation, through a customer-friendly transfer of the transaction to AirTran channels for booking, purchase, and ticketing by AirTran; and
● Earn reward points in either airline’s frequent-flyer program, no matter which carrier they fly. The reward currency a customer earns is determined by the carrier from which he or she buys the ticket, even if the customer is flying on a shared itinerary.
As is standard with industry codeshare arrangements, the rules and policies of the airline from which you buy your ticket apply to reservations and ticketing. The procedures of the airline actually operating the flight apply to boarding, seating, and the onboard experience.
Southwest is making one exception to this practice: Any itinerary with a Southwest segment or that is purchased through a Southwest point-of-sale channel will not have bag fees for the first or second checked bag (weight and size restrictions apply.) Customers can find specific details and answers to frequently asked questions by visiting www.southwest.com.
Customers will continue to earn and redeem rewards points through the frequent-flyer program of their marketing carrier, regardless of the operating carrier on which they travel.
In order to earn currency from whichever of the two airlines they purchase a ticket, customers should be enrolled in both the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards and AirTran Airways A+ Rewards programs, according to Southwest.
Loyalty program members also have the ability to transfer their currency between the two programs. For more information about transferring loyalty currency, visit www.rewardsfarther.com.
Southwest Airlines announced plans to acquire AirTran Airways on September 27, 2010, an acquisition that it says significantly expanded Southwest Airlines’ low-fare service to more customers in more domestic markets and created hundreds of additional low-fare itineraries for the traveling public.
Since Southwest Airlines closed the deal to purchase AirTran Airways on May 2, 2011, 30 per cent of AirTran employees have moved over to Southwest.
Southwest has also converted 11 AirTran Airways Boeing 737-700 jets to the Southwest paint scheme and interior configuration, and has transitioned five AirTran Airways-served cities into Southwest Airlines operations.
The process of fully integrating the AirTran Airways 737 fleet into the Southwest Airlines fleet (i.e., repainting the aircraft and modifying their interior configuration) and transitioning the two carriers’ operations to a single ticketing system is a large and complex process, according to Southwest. It expects to complete the process by the end of 2014.