Category Archives: AirTran

Southwest and Airtran Launch Double Points Promo for All Travel

Southwest and Airtran will give double Rapid Rewards and A+ Rewards credits for all travel between September 13th and November 15th. For Southwest, you must register here. For AirTran, you must register here.

Let the matching begin…(actually, I don’t think anyone will go near this. But we’ll find out soon enough.) It’s been a while since we’ve seen a broad everyone-gets-double-miles promo in quite some time (I can’t even remember when…probably since the crazy double elite miles virus that spread a couple of years ago).

Southwest Will Match the Number of Frontier EarlyReturns Miles In Your Account (If You Live in Wisconsin)

The battle for Wisconsin continues: Southwest Airlines said it will match the number of Frontier EarlyReturns miles you have in your account (up to 50,000) if you live in Wisconsin. In addition, if you have Ascent or Summit Status, they will match it with AirTran A-List and A+ Rewards Elite Status. With Frontier basically pulling out of Milwaukee, the fight is on for their frequent flyer members.

From their release:

To take advantage of this one-time offer, Wisconsin EarlyReturns members should take the following steps:

If they haven’t done so already, enroll in the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards program.
Submit a copy of their Frontier EarlyReturns statement that denotes their current account balance along with their name, Rapid Rewards account number, and phone number to RapidRewards@wnco.com.

To take advantage of this status-matching offer, EarlyReturns Ascent and Summit members should take the following steps:

If they haven’t done so already, enroll in the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards program and the AirTran A+ Rewards program.
Submit a copy of their current, valid tier card or statement along with their name, Rapid Rewards account number, A+ Rewards account number, and phone number to RapidRewards@wnco.com.

AirTran Will No Longer Be Part of Membership Rewards After February 2012

AirTran will be ending their relationship with Membership Rewards after February 29, 2012. Not particularly shocking considering Southwest does not have ties with Membership Rewards.

While I guess that this is not a huge deal for most people, I did want to point out one of the more intriguing Membership Rewards redemption options we’ll be losing:

AirTran will let you redeem 100 A+ Rewards credits for a 1-year Companion Pass on the airline. In other words, you can have one person (spouse?) fly with you for free for a year. MR points convert to A+ Rewards at 1500 MR points for 1 A+ credit. In short, you can get a 1-year companion pass for 150,000 Membership Rewards points.

Obviously, that’s not a great deal for everyone, but for some 150,000 MR points for unlimited travel for a year is beyond a steal.

And while AirTran and Southwest are running their airlines as separate businesses for now, they may be combined in the next year, meaning your companion pass could – could – get you unlimited travel on Southwest as well. That’s not a definite, but it is a possibility.

Southwest Airlines Elite Members Get Free Upgrades (on AirTran, Of Course…)

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.)

We Did NOT See This Coming: Southwest to Buy AirTran

Wow, we did not see this coming at all.  When we saw the news that Southwest is buying AirTran I thought that maybe there was some other Southwest Airlines in Pakistan or something (a la Pakistan’s Air Blue).  But no.  Southwest, the little airline from Texas, will now have 685 aircraft and fly internationally.  Southwest has not been the Old Southwest since Gary Kelly came onboard.  It’s still talked about as if it’s a leisure-focused airline offering only peanuts in exchange for cattle boarding on flights to secondary cities.  But that hasn’t been the case for years.  Southwest already announced service to all 3 New York airports, and has been expanding to major airports like Boston for years.

This acquisition allows them to step up that strategy.  AirTran has gates at Washington National and LaGuardia that allows Southwest to build out those cities in ways they could not without AirTran.  It helps them further their base in Atlanta and create strong growth there.  It allows them to build up service through the Ohio Valley, where AirTran is strong.  And it allows them to launch that international service everyone has asked about for years, with flights to a handful of cities AirTran serves in Mexico and the Caribbean.  It accelerates everything they’ve been doing for years, and no one (that I’m aware of) saw it coming.

The airlines will operate separately until the deal closes, and then the AirTran name will disappear and its planes will be painted in Southwest livery (AirTran flies 737s and 86 717s, marking Southwest’s first foray outside the 737 family).

One amusing note:  Southwest put out a fact sheet that lists some info about both carriers, with one section talking about accomplishments.  Southwest lists things like its lifelong profitabilty; AirTran lists “serves more Coca Cola brands than any other airline.”

Could Midwest Be Facing Bankruptcy?

USA Today outlines the horrible situation Midwest finds itself in, including having the CEO say that they have about 30 days before they run out of cash.  Worse than the elimination of about half their jets is the request for workers to cut pay by up to 2/3 for pilots, with some $120,000-a-year pilots being asked to take a cut to the low $30s.  For now, the unions are refusing.

Northwest is a passive investor in the airline and while they deny they will let Midwest disappear while taking over their routes, that seems to be the most likely scenario.  AirTran, which unsuccessfully tried to buy the airline last year (sometimes when you lose you win) may benefit as they’ll be able to expand in Milwaukee without having to deal with actually running Midwest.

US Airways: Fee Fi Fo Fum, I Smell the Blood of $2 Sodas

US Airways announced a massive overhaul of their entire operation yesterday, including (but not limited to), reducing their domestic capacity by 8%; laying off 1,700 employees; charging $15 for a checked bag; all-but-shuttering their Las Vegas late night flights; charging $25 for domestic phone reservations and $35 for international; eliminating the mileage bonus for Preferred Status members; and two egregious fees:

- Sodas and water will now cost $2. I wouldn’t care much about this, but the (insert expletive here) TSA won’t let you bring liquids into the airport. In short, if you want a drink on your 5 hour flight to Phoenix, you’ll pay for it (bitch).

- Reward tickets (previously known as free tickets) will now cost you $25 in the US and $50 to Hawaii and international. We shall now refer to these as 90%-off-tickets.

Hoo boy. US Airways is basically going all-in with these moves. They’re going full Ryanair on their customers, and I’m certain we’ll see similar moves by the other majors. This is a code red, defcon 12, all hands on deck, every cliche you can think of move that suggests it is as bad as it’s ever been for these guys. After 9/11 we didn’t see anything close to this. During SARS we didn’t see anything close to this.

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say (for like the 11th time in 3 months), this could be the end of the industry as we know it. It already is, really. The full-service airlines are now charging for water, shutting lounges and eliminating perks for their best frequent flyers. There’s nowhere else to go. All frills have been eliminated, and they can’t cut prices further. What would you do if you were running one of these airlines? I know what you’d do: the exact same thing. There’s nothing left to do. Well, there’s one thing left to do (and no one’s going to do it): Look at Malaysia Airlines.

Yes, Malaysia Airlines. Malaysia had a nice comfortable and profitable domestic network and a well-regarded international network until a couple of years ago. Then Air Asia came along and undercut them on price by something like 90%. Sure, Malaysia fought for a while, but in the end they did the only thing they could do: They called up Air Asia and told them they can have their stupid domestic routes (and/or shove them up their tuchus), that they were going to focus on the international business. (Mostly – they still set aside about 30% of their domestic seats for low fares…)

And so they did; and in the process created an extremely well regarded top-of-its-class international carrier. Air Asia won, and Malaysia Airlines won.

I don’t know if American would have the guts to say to JetBlue – OK, you win at JFK. The domestic routes are yours, but please feed them into our international network. Or say the same thing to Southwest in Dallas. Or for Delta to say the same to AirTran in Atlanta – you can have the domestic stuff, but let’s coordinate to get your connecting passengers to London on us.

That’s really the only option left, just as it was the only option for Malaysia. Anyone have the guts to try it?

AirTran: We Are Not a Bankruptcy Risk

(Thanks to longtime reader IAHPHX for the heads up on this):

AirTran’s stock collapsed by about 1/3 on Friday after Frontier announced its bankruptcy and caused unfounded speculation that AirTran would face a cash crunch.  As IAHPHX points out, AirTran actually has one of the strongest financial positions of any carrier, and the airline put out a press release basically saying that.  Shares rebounded in after hours trading, but it just goes to show how far reaching this mess has gotten – even the solid airlines are now getting hit.

United: We’ll Leave Star Alliance If It Helps Merger

Although it’s still pretty unlikely, United would consider dropping out of the Star Alliance if it was necessary to complete a merger, according to this article

United also would consider withdrawing from the Star Alliance, the
global marketing consortium it co-founded, if needed to close a deal.
"You can assume that absolutely everything goes into the mix of
consideration," (CEO Glenn) Tilton said.

I guess they’re serious. 

Other changes are already happening, with the airline announcing plans to sell off its Mileage Plus program, as well as a maintenance base at San Francisco.

They announced yesterday that they would cut about 4% of domestic capacity, while Delta also announced about a 5% drop in domestic capacity for 2008 (while at the same time increasing international flights, where they already do 1/3 of their flying). 

The shrinkage in the number of available seats domestically will be a (the?) big story for the year, as airlines try to figure out the correct mix of flying.  Remember — too little domestic capacity and you’re not feeding enough traffic to your hubs, which leads to fewer international passengers.  It’s an enormously tricky balance, and one that will lead to higher fares for consumers.  At least until a lowfare carrier sees an opportunity in these now thinner routes with high fares.  An AirTran (or whoever) will jump in, lower fares and increase the number of flights.  Which will, of course, be met be the incumbent with lower fares and more flights, which will cause them to lose money.  Rinse.  Repeat.

Woman Sits in Urine-Soaked Seat for Flight to Boston

A woman sat in a urine-soaked seat for her entire AirTran flight from Florida to Boston.  The bigger issue was that it was not her own urine.  (insert joke about how pissed she was).  You can read the whole story if you really need the details on this.