Southwest And AirTran Now Holding Hands: Flights Can Finally Be Booked Together

Even though Southwest and AirTran got hitched back during their 2011 merger, the two have barely seemed like they were going steady, much less married. But now it appears they’re ready to let the whole world know they’re moving on to holding hands: all flights on either airline can now be booked together as one itinerary.

Gasp, egads and etc., right? It shouldn’t be news as the carriers have been linked for almost two years at this point. But it’s taken quite a bit of effort on the part of passengers to get here — until now, travelers had to book separate tickets on each carrier even if it was all part of one trip.

“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,” Bob Jordan, Southwest’s chief commercial and president of AirTran, says in a release (via USA Today). “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.”

This means taking an annoying step out of the mix if a traveler wants to go to say, a destination that only AirTran offers on the way to a Southwest city. Before, customers would book each leg separately, whereas now it’s all on one ticket. Ah, the marvels of the modern world.

The next step is mushing all of AirTran’s ticketing operations into SouthWest and then finally, ditching the AirTran brand altogether. Both those things likely won’t happen for a long while yet, as Southwest calls the move to a single ticketing system “a large and complex process that is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.”

By then, maybe those two crazy kids will arrive at first base.

Southwest, AirTran: All flights are now linked [USA Today]