Turns out AirTran, which has been acquired by Southwest, is running a sale with terms identical to those of its parent and it may be a harbinger of what's ahead. Like Southwest's offer, the carrier is offering $40 fares for flights from 0-450 miles; $80 for flights of 451-1,250 miles; and $120 for 1,251 and beyond. You must purchase before June 24 for travel from Aug. 23-Nov. 16. Blackout dates are Sept. 1, Sept. 5 and 6, and Oct. 10, and sale fares are not available Fridays and Sundays. Here's the fine print.
This appears to mark another step in the integration of the two carriers. Southwest closed its acquisition of AirTran in May and said then that it would gradually join the two airlines. Last month, I spoke with Southwest spokesman Paul Flaningan who said that most of the initial changes would take place behind the scenes in terms of integrating systems and policies. Flaningan said that the two partners sales and marketing operations were keeping close tabs on each other but had not actively began coordinating. He suggested that most of the major changes would be seen after the merged carrier received a Single Operating Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration early next year.
With this sale, it appears that we may be able to see more fallout from the combining of the companies sooner than expected. Stay tuned.