Southwest and AirTran begin connecting networks

Southwest Airlines has announced the next step in the integration with its subsidiary, AirTran Airways, with customers now able to buy a growing number of itineraries between the Southwest and AirTran networks for travel on a single itinerary.

Soon, says Southwest, customers will be able to book flights to any of the airlines’ combined 97 destinations, including international, in one transaction.

“Connecting the networks is a priority in 2013 and a major milestone as we work to combine our two companies,” explained Bob Jordan, chief commercial officer at Southwest Airlines and president of AirTran. “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.”

Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways took the first step in connecting their networks on 26 January 2013, by offering a small number of shared itineraries in five markets. The initial phase was successful, and the airlines are prepared to launch in 39 cities on 25 February. The airline is on track to fully connect the networks in April.

Customers will continue to earn and redeem currency through the frequent flyer loyalty programmes of their marketing carrier, regardless of the operating carrier they travel on. Customers should be enrolled in both Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards and AirTran Airways A+ Rewards programmes in order to earn currency from whichever airline they purchase a ticket. Loyalty members also have the ability to transfer their currency between the two loyalty programmes.

The process of a full integration (paint scheme and interior configuration) of the AirTran Airways 737 fleet into the Southwest Airlines fleet and transition to a single ticketing system is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.

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