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Southwest, AirTran merger problem

Posted by Mitch Lipka  May 14, 2012 03:53 PM

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Q. Last fall my husband and I traveled on AirTran Airways from Boston to Orlando. Our flight was rerouted and landed in Orlando two hours later than scheduled. To compensate us, AirTran gave us a free roundtrip for any route they operate. After learning they flew from Boston to Seattle, we decided to visit our son on the West Coast and tried to book a flight.

AirTran told me they no longer had service to Seattle, and that Southwest had taken over that route, but I could book a flight on a route they still serviced. I then called Southwest and was informed that they had purchased AirTran, but were not fully merged and would not accept the voucher. My husband and I do not fly a lot, so I would appreciate your advice.

Diane Monigle, Beverly

A. You seem to have fallen in a crack between the two airlines. AirTran’s offer still stands. But they’re just not flying where you want to use it.

So, I reached out to Southwest so see what they were willing to do.

Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz explained that the airlines are still in the process of becoming one and operating separately for the time being. Southwest offered two $100 vouchers to fly on their airline, if flying on AirTran isn’t going to work for you.

“When this was brought to our attention, we worked quickly to give the customer several options for redeeming the travel credit, and we look forward to seeing her onboard again soon,” Mainz said.

Given the original situation that yielded the vouchers, it seems like a reasonable option. You just have to decide which is worth more to you – the credits on Southwest or free flights that won’t get you where you want to go.

When you’re being denied compensation for an inconvenience, not something you paid for, it can be a tough fight. But some companies realize it’s a lot less expensive to offer some sort of credit than to have an unhappy customer who could alter the views of other potential customers. It’s called goodwill.

Your persistence in this case at least resulted in a solution that you can take advantage of.

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About the author

Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at


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