Southwest & AirTran Begin Merging Routes

Southwest is taking the next big step in its acquisition of AirTran.  Passengers can now book dozens of routes using flights on both airlines while using a single itinerary.  This marriage of routes is a major step toward folding AirTran into Southwest's current route network.  Southwest announced soon passengers will be able to book flights on any of the airlines' combined 97 destinations, including international, in one transaction.  This is a big change for loyal Southwest passengers who have not been able to book international tickets on Southwest in the past.

Southwest and AirTran took the first step in connecting their networks last month, by offering a small number of shared itineraries.  This week's announcement expands route availability.  39 additional cities will be available starting February 25.  Southwest says they are on pace to fully connect the networks in April 2013.

So what will this mean for passengers?  According to Southwest:

  • Passengers will be able to add one ore more AirTran domestic flight segments to a Southwest itinerary using Southwest booking channels.  (ie: Southwest.com, etc.)
  • Book one ore more Southwest flight segments connecting to an AirTran itinerary using AirTran.com, phone booking, etc.
  • Use Southwest booking channels to book an AirTran-only domestic itinerary.
  • Add an international AirTran segment to a Southwest itinerary with a single reservation by contacting AirTran customer service.
  • Earn miles in either loyalty program no matter which carrier passengers fly.

Here's a link to the full press release.