Southwest Airlines announced the launch of service from Atlanta, one of the first big operational steps toward integrating the carrier with recently acquired AirTran. The airline will initially serve Baltimore, Houston, Dallas, Denver and Austin, though only Austin represents a route not yet served by AirTran.
The exciting news for Southwest and AirTran elite members is that the carriers are launching a handful of reciprocal benefits. When flying on AirTran, Southwest A-List and A-List Preferred members will get free upgrades and will not have to pay any baggage fees. When flying on Southwest, AirTran A+ Rewards members will receive priority boarding and bonus Rapid Rewards points.
Who said that Southwest frequent flyers never get upgraded? (For those of you used to Continental, for example, AirTran’s upgrades work a bit differently. On cheap fares you won’t find out about your upgrade until 40 minutes before departure. Y and B fares, though, are upgraded at purchase.)