Post AirTran merger

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Old Jul 13, 19, 6:32 pm
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Post AirTran merger

So I had a bunch of down time this morning so I went back several years on this forum just to see what was going on during the WN-FL merger. Being from Atlanta, I had heard about Southwest but never flown them. Obviously for AirTran fliers Southwest was a bit of a downgrade (not completely) in that there were no assigned seats, business class, XM radio and easy upgrades. I'm curious if there are any former AirTran elites who are still with Southwest. If not, did they go to Delta (if based in ATL)? Do you think Southwest would be where they are today if it weren't for the merger?
I'm just a little curious, if this isn't an appropriate question then please let me know.
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Old Jul 13, 19, 6:52 pm
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Not sure it made the splash it wanted. Of course, it focuses on local traffic, not connections. 212 departures soon became 124. That's Kelly's sweet spot: "We don't have any plans to grow Atlanta in the near term."

I fly WN when my boss sends me, an arrangement he also had with FL.

​​​​Southwest did a fair amount of sponsorships and media buys in the first 18 months. Not seeing a lot now.
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Old Jul 13, 19, 7:05 pm
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Atlanta based, average a round trip every other week, favored Airtran and moved to Southwest and quickly figured out the benefit of the Companion Pass. 5+ years later now I just did a Delta medallion status match and got Gold (have already maxed out Southwest this year by locking in companion pass and AL+ for next year), getting Gold thru JAN 2021. Flew 6 segments this week and got upgraded to First on 3 flights, Comfort+ on 2 flights. Gonna try and straddle both Southwest and Delta going forward but don't think I'll fly enough to keep Gold on Delta.
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Old Jul 13, 19, 8:20 pm
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Interesting. I do remember there was quite a bit of buzz when they first started service to Atlanta. I can't believe they have no plans to grow in ATL, the airport could support DL and FL, so why couldn't it support WN? I know they tried to capitalize on the 2 bags fly free thing but so many people in Atlanta have AMEX cards nobody pays for bags on Delta anyways.
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Old Jul 14, 19, 5:18 am
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It wouldn't be the first time WN fizzled against an incumbent legacy in one on their hubs. They tried to build a major focus city at PHL (where US Airways had a hub) when they entered in 2004 and built it up to 70 daily flights to 20 destinations at it's peak. US was in bankruptcy back then and maybe WN thought they wouldn't exit (it was their second bankruptcy declaration in 2 years). Anyway, US was able to recover and apparently WN wasn't able to dislodge enough loyal US flyers as they significantly reduced their flights a few years after the big build-up (I currently count about 24 daily flights to 11 destinations for WN at PHL).

As you noted, the WN business model is quite a bit different than FL model and it seems they weren't able to retain enough of those passengers. FL also had pretty aggressive pricing to help maintain the ATL hub with connecting traffic and WN is really focused more on the O&D flyers and don't seem to compete as aggressively on pricing.
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Old Jul 14, 19, 8:09 am
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although being a AA flyer out of ATL. I often took Airtran to cities in FL where AA would require a connection,
remember the hype about better routes, cheaper fares , great service etc.
all I have seen is that now all I see is that South west fares are about the same as DL, not really what we were told to believe..
heck I still have the Airtran FF card
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Old Jul 14, 19, 10:18 am
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I was never much of an AirTran flier but used them occasionally on MCO-ATL when DL's pricing was just stupid. WN really doesn't offer a whole lot now. Their pricing is often equal to or worse than that of DL. Combine that with a lack of Y+ and unassigned seating and they really just don't offer any value to me at all.

For those looking for the really low fares out of ATL, it seems F9 and NK sort of stepped in and swept up that market.
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Old Jul 14, 19, 10:38 pm
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Originally Posted by cmd320 View Post
....
For those looking for the really low fares out of ATL, it seems F9 and NK sort of stepped in and swept up that market.
Frontier and Spirit.... many of us would never fly them... just sayin. But, they do skim the real fare chasers off the bottom.

Then again, many will not fly WN/SWA and we know they are doing fine as the largest domestic carrier.
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Old Jul 14, 19, 10:49 pm
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Air Tran did set you up from and give you free drinks, you could upgrade at the airport for just a few bucks,,

WN is not all that bad, at last they do not give out stamps anymore..
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Old Jul 14, 19, 11:30 pm
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Originally Posted by satman40 View Post
Air Tran did set you up from and give you free drinks, you could upgrade at the airport for just a few bucks,, WN is not all that bad, at last they do not give out stamps anymore..
WN doesn't give out fifth size bottles of Wild Turkey anymore either.
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Old Jul 15, 19, 7:07 am
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Originally Posted by NoStressHere View Post
Frontier and Spirit.... many of us would never fly them... just sayin. But, they do skim the real fare chasers off the bottom.

Then again, many will not fly WN/SWA and we know they are doing fine as the largest domestic carrier.
I typically wouldn’t either. But if I needed to fly to ATL and DL were charging something ridiculous I would consider NK with a big front seat upgrade or something. In fact I may be more likely to give that a try than Southwest to be honest.
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Old Jul 15, 19, 7:30 am
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Originally Posted by NoStressHere View Post
Then again, many will not fly WN/SWA and we know they are doing fine as the largest domestic carrier.
Atlanta-based fliers need that seductive marketing pitch.

At buyout, AirTran had 19% of the market, WN has 9.3%. Spirit grew from 0.24% to 2.23% in the same time frame (2012-2018).
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Old Jul 15, 19, 8:53 am
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Originally Posted by LegalTender View Post
Atlanta-based fliers need that seductive marketing pitch.

At buyout, AirTran had 19% of the market, WN has 9.3%. Spirit grew from 0.24% to 2.23% in the same time frame (2012-2018).
Southwest gave away that market share along with most of Airtran's airplanes. They cut half or more of Airtran's destinations and transferred many of Airtran's former employees to other bases. Last I heard hundreds of former Airtran employees who live in Atlanta still commute to work and cannot transfer back to the Atlanta Base until there are openings and since Southwest is not expanding in Atlanta there are few openings.

That created a lot of resentment in the Atlanta Market.

I flew Frontier for a while to some of my destinations, enough to become Elite which was comparable to Airtran (except for free drinks). Frontier changed their model and started serving many destination only a few times a week and seemingly randomly dropping routes. Some of mine seemed to have good loads but were dropped anyway. I even flew Spirit a few times and that was OK, once they got their operations under control, but again the sporadic schedules make it hard for a business traveler.
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Old Jul 15, 19, 9:20 am
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I'm actually a big fan of Spirit's big front seats. If they had any way to redeem their (otherwise mostly worthless) miles for those, I would likely fly them more often. I don't care about the service, just want the comfortable seat.

I fly Frontier, too, despite their terrible seats - I'm actually actively trying for their status this year. They've always managed to seat us together even without status, and our CRJ200 compatible carry ons fly for free with them. I always figure my worst case scenario is booking a last minute BS fare on WN and add my companion. Trip insurance might even cover that, though I haven't gotten screwed yet so I can't be sure. If I didn't have the WN backup plan, though, I don't know if I'd be willing to risk those low frequency carriers, even at those low prices...

Originally Posted by NoStressHere View Post
Frontier and Spirit.... many of us would never fly them... just sayin. But, they do skim the real fare chasers off the bottom.

Then again, many will not fly WN/SWA and we know they are doing fine as the largest domestic carrier.
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Old Jul 15, 19, 9:42 am
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Despite being 98% WN since 1999, I had to start flying INTO ATL monthly around 2006 and quickly discovered the wonderful business class service that approximated DL Y fares and got hooked. Suddenly 45+ minutes in the takeoff queue and other typical hassles at LGA and ATL didn't look so bad anymore. Didn't care much about their status or FF credits. They did an incredible job getting from point a to b and back.

Was genuinely sad to see WN take them over because of the impending dismantling of their service. There was a sweet spot for a year or so at the bitter end where you could earn WN BS points and seamlessly fly business class on AirTran metal.

Do wish WN left them alone...
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