Airlines in the News: Southwest

While it doesn’t technically involve the international airlines I normally report on on the AirTreks blog, I thought this was too big an announcement not to talk about. After all, it creates what amounts to as the nation’s biggest carrier, surpassing Delta in terms of passenger load and route depth (even after their merger with Northwest).

As of this morning Southwest Airlines merged with AirTran for 1.4 buh-buh-billion dollars, making them one dangerous beast.

AirTran posted a Fact Sheet on their company website Inside AirTran just minutes after the big news to give customers nervous about the implications a chill pill.

Some of the best features to look forward to after the merge, which will eradicate the AirTran italic ‘A’ and turn it purple, red and orange:

  • Make Southwest an international carrier, adding destinations in Mexico and Canada to their map, potentially setting them up for more international destinations in the future.
  • Add new, non 737s to their fleet, giving a sense of long-awaited variety to the So’west flying experience.
  • Give passengers in-flight WiFi, either with AirTran’s Gogo or Southwest’s Row 44, to be determined.
  • The best feature: bags fly free! Of course it remains to be seen if they keep this perk, but with this being the reason many customers use Southwest in the first place, I imagine they will.

There will be more to this story as the plans for the merger are laid out but it seems like people, even flight attendants, are generally happy about it. AirTreks CEO Mark Ludwig said about it: “One of the better managed U.S. airlines (Southwest) buying one of the WORST managed U.S. airlines (AirTran) should bring improvements.” So there you have it.