Southwest Buys Air-Tran

Overweight people wearing rude tshirts or skimpy clothes will soon have fewer flying options, now that Southwest Airlines is buying Air-Tran. The deal was announced this morning and comes a week after Continental and United Airlines merged. Southwest will get more access to places like New York, Boston, Baltimore, Washington, and expand into places like Atlanta for the first time.

Spirit is expected to respond by merging with an ICBM manufacturer to develop flights that will just jam all the passengers in a tube and rocket them across the country.

Southwest Airlines to buy AirTran for $1.4B [AP]
Southwest’s Statement [Southwest]
AirTran’s Statement [PR Newswire]

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  1. AngryK9 says:

    Not really sure what overweight people have to do with one junk airline buying another junk airline…

  2. pop top says:

    This comes just in time as we are using Air Tran to fly to Atlanta this December. I like Southwest, having flown with them so many times. I wonder if this means we won’t have a baggage fee now? :D

    • Captain Walker says:

      If the deal is closed by then, then the intention is no bag fees.

      No first/business class, either. Or change fees. But keeping open seating, although International destinations could be different

  3. theblackdog says:

    I have to wonder how much more coverage Southwest can really get in Baltimore since BWI is practically their east coast hub already. Terminal A is entirely Southwest.

    Though if it gives good options for flying out of DC National Airport, that could be helpful for convenience.

  4. jaymer says:

    This is great. I just wish that Southwest would start running redeye flights. I really like flying all night from SFO/SJC to the east coast so I can spend the weekend with family.

    I would fly Airtran out through Hartsfield and fly Southwest back on Sunday afternoon.

    -Jamie

  5. Hollihocks says:

    As an Atlanta resident, this is fairly exciting – mostly because I finally can experience the fabled Southwest brand. Personally, I don’t think it’s going to bring down prices too much – AirTran and Delta were often the same to the penny every time AirTran had a sale (AirTran always had less seats and you could still get the same price on Delta days later). In all reality, the service level and experience is the same – you pay for a seat (I don’t expect much for domestic travel, A to B and that’s it). I don’t even check bags.

    Delta’s not going anywhere. Everyone here is all excited that Delta’s going down. No, not quite. Delta kinda has worldwide presence and international routes.

    Things won’t change much except the planes. BUT BUT BUT BUT I hope I can fly to Charleston again cheaply. With fares at $300 now (after AirTran left), I really miss $94 days haha.

  6. captadam says:

    Southwest has never had a crash, but AirTran had to rebrand itself from ValuJet after the infamous crash into the Everglades. So, after this combination, will Southwest still be able to claim that it’s never had a crash?

    • dangermike says:

      I don’t see why not. They weren’t operating ValuJet when the crash occurred.

    • hbkawachi says:

      Southwest certainly has had crashes. Right off the block, I can think of two, one at Chicago/Midway in December 2005 and another at Burbank in March 2000. What Southwest HASN’T had is a crash with a fatality.

  7. energynotsaved says:

    Joy in the ATL! Anything that isn’t Delta is so wonderful! Joy, joy, JOY!

    • Bobby Creek Water says:

      I agree that this is good news!

      On a side note – it always bothered me that we got Southwest commercials but no Southwest flights out of Atlanta.

  8. sufreak says:

    Is there an airline that still promotes skimpy clothes? It may make the flight more bearable.

  9. brinkman says:

    Darn. I liked AirTran but hardly ever was able to fly them. Comfy Boeing 717s.

  10. Pibbs says:

    I’ve flown both, and found both to be quite pleasant airlines to fly on. AirTran gave my wife and I a free upgrade to first class (which we didn’t know until getting on the plane) when our seats had been moved so we weren’t next to each other. Both have really good customer service, so I think this makes for a great merger.

  11. cromartie says:

    This really bums me out. AirTran was the one domestic airline I could tolerate flying (bear in mind I have no access to JetBlue where I live, and I have yet to fly Frontier). They flew from an alternate, smaller airport in my region, I could upgrade to Business Class for a reasonable fee, the timetable was workable and they had a nice number of destinations. They also had a fleet of Boeing 717s, which are, in my mind anyway, underappreciated medium sized planes. (And aren’t made by Boeing anymore, sadly.)

    Southwest’s cattle call seating does nothing for me. You Atlanta people had a particularly nice gig with airTran. Which, judging by the comments here, you didn’t appreciate.

    It’s a shame an entire airline (well run with a decent business model) gets dissolved just so Southwest gets access to Atlanta and a few slots in the Carribbean.

    • cromartie says:

      http://www.lowfaresfarther.com/ is the merger site. If you read the ‘For Customer’ section, you’ll find that airTran is going away (not really a surprise). No assigned seats, no more business class and, I would imagine, eventually the 717s will be sold off as well.

      A very sad day.

      • Ophelia says:

        Actually, they say they will keep the 717s and transfer them to SW livery. (In the FAQ)

        • cromartie says:

          I’m surprised at this, because it runs counter to Southwest’s business model of sticking entirely with 737s (saves money on parts and maintenance). The other issue is that, while passengers like 717s (much roomier than the Embrarer and Bombardier tin cans legacy airlines cram you into), they are horrible on fuel, hence the reason they aren’t made anymore.

          But thanks for spotting that. I missed it.

          • hbkawachi says:

            They are NOT bad on fuel. The per seat cost on a 717 vs a 737-500 (the closest in size of the 737’s that Southwest has) is actually LOWER. They aren’t made anymore because they were orphan aircraft that Boeing inherited from their buyout of McDonnell Douglas and Boeing chose to focus on the 737 rather than promote the 717 (which was called the MD95 when it was made by McDonnell Douglas.)

      • TheMonkeyKing says:

        My best flights with AirTran consisted of buying the ultra-low Internet fares months in advance and then upgrading very cheaply to business class on flight day. They were always happy to upgrade me because of sometimes oversold flights and the extra fare basically paid for my bags, roomier seats and liquor.

        Crap! Now it will be a cattle call to fly to New Orleans. Just frikk’n great, I’ll probably be stuck flying next to Mr & Mrs Redneck, already trashed, and raring to live it big in the Big Easy.

    • pot_roast says:

      They’re also picking up a big hub in Milwaukee, WI too. I think this is a big “F U” to Republic, who beat Southwest (and Airtran) to buy Frontier and Midwest.

  12. theblackdog says:

    I’m also curious if that means Southwest will keep the new Baltimore Ravens plane that Air Tran debuted a few months back. I’d love the chance to actually fly on it.

    Hell, what will this do to that AirTran’s sponsorship of the Ravens? Will Southwest continue or will it be dropped?

  13. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

    Maybe now AirTran will suck a little less. (It certainly would be hard for them to suck more.) The time I flew them in and out of Minneapolis was the single worst transit experience of my life, and no, it wasn’t about weather or other outside forces, it was about actively unhelpful and even hostile employees.

    Not that I’m bitter…

  14. pridkett says:

    Seriously, do your research. Continental and United have not merged yet. It’s basically looking like a done deal, with both the shareholders and justice department approving it, but strange things can happen. To say they merged last week is just plain wrong. Airline mergers take a long time and even after they merge the new United will be operating under two different operating certificates with two different unions for a very long time — Especially if the US Airways/America West or Delta/Northwest mergers are any indications.

  15. dangermike says:

    Being both a big and a tall person (6’5, large framed, and admittedly overweight), I do a lot of research before booking airfare to make sure I’ll be comfortable. That being the case, I’ve never flown AirTran because I’ve always heard their seat widths and legroom are less than most other airlines.

    I will also say that Airbus A320’s tend to have more spacious seating than other manufacturers, McDonnel-Douglass and regional jets tend to have less, and Boeing craft are a mixed bag. Also, JetBlue is the only airline of the 5 or 6 that I’ve flown that did not leave me bruised and sore after a flight.

  16. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    What is Southwest going to do with the Boeing 717’s? One of the way Southwest has supposedly been able to keep their prices so low was running a single design fleet! The mechanics and pilots only have to know one type of aircraft and they can easily substitute equipment.

    • theblackdog says:

      I bet as they merge the two together, they’ll sell off the 717’s.

    • jamar0303 says:

      Seeing as how they’re inheriting airTran people they’ll have people to work on the 717s. And the merger website already says that they’ll be keeping them for the near future.

  17. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Oh please please please make them come here. I want Southwest. I don’t want to have to drive three hours to get to an airport where I can use them.

    AirTran is about the only option out of the tiny private airport I last used; I don’t know what will happen with that. It was an hour drive but worth it for the savings.

  18. TheMonkeyKing says:

    Well, crap. I wonder what this means for RDU, which has both. Airtran had the best flight sales, on-time flights and customer service for the flights I have been on.

  19. Incident8 says:

    Haters gonna hate. Southwest Airlines is probably the nicest airline to ride on.

  20. MsFab says:

    I’m an Elite member on Airtran & I’m very saddened by this news. When I lived in Orlando & now in Mpls, Airtran has always been a cheaper option than Southwest. I hate the whole “A,B,C” boarding thing. Getting upgraded to business class was pretty much guaranteed on most flights, given my Elite status. The Airtran that I love to fly is going away, and I dont know if I will be transferring my loyalty to Southwest.

  21. D in Buffalo says:

    Just hafta say that the line “Spirit is expected to respond by merging with an ICBM manufacturer to develop flights that will just jam all the passengers in a tube and rocket them across the country.” had me laughing so hard I almost dropped my laptop (from the couch) onto my cat (walking in front of the couch).

  22. Chip Skylark of Space says:

    Wow, this means that Southwest will now have flights to Flint, Michigan. If anyone is flying into the greater Detroit area, I highly recommend flying into Flint. Parking is easier, and it’s a lot closer to the Oakland county area than Metro is.