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Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways Combine Rewards Programs

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Southwest Airlines announced that it is moving forward in its integration with subsidiary AirTran Airways. The two airlines will begin offering customers additional flight options on a single itinerary and they will combine their rewards programs. Southwest Airlines acquired AirTran Airways in May 2011.

Customer will soon be able to make one reservation to book flights to any of the 97 destinations served by the combined carriers. And travelers who are enrolled in both Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards and AirTran Airways A+ Rewards programs can now transfer their miles between the two programs.

The two airlines began connecting their networks last month when they started sharing itineraries in five markets.  The airlines will expand the program later this month when they connect in another 39 cities.  They plan to complete the connections in April.

Since the acquisition of Air Tran, Southwest Airlines has absorbed 29 percent of the AirTran workforce and changed the paint scheme and interior configuration of 11 AirTran Airways 737-700 to match the familiar Southwest brand. The airline also transitioned five cities that were being served by AirTran Airways into Southwest Airlines operations.  The airlines have yet to change into a single ticketing system, but the organization expects that the process of full integration of the AirTran Airways 737 fleet will be complete by the end of 2014.

Free baggage check

Customers can now use Southwest channels to book an AirTran domestic itinerary and make a single reservation to add an international AirTran segment to a Southwest itinerary. Any itinerary that is bought through Southwest or with a segment on the airline will have the baggage fees waived fortwo bags.

Frequent flier currency is determined by the airline that travelers buy their ticket from regardless of which airline they are traveling on, even if they are flying on a shared itinerary. But those miles can now be transferred between the two airlines.

Southwest Airlines earned about $142 million in 2012 and expects to more than double that to about $400 million in 2013.

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