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Although Southwest and AirTran are not yet one, there are some routes that have been integrated already and there are more to come. This will give flyers more routing opportunities as well as selecting which program they prefer to earn their points with.
Last month, Southwest started including AirTran’s Atlanta to Ft. Lauderdale and Atlanta to Ft. Myers in their booking engine. This gave travelers the option to book via Southwest with an AirTran operated flight as part of the itinerary:
- Atlanta to Ft. Lauderdale
- Atlanta to Ft. Myers
- Louisville to Ft. Lauderdale (layover in ATL)
- Louisville to Ft. Myers (layover in ATL)
- Norfolk to Ft. Lauderdale (layover in ATL)
- Norfolk to Ft. Myers (layover in ATL)
While these are extremely limited routes, the good news is that Southwest will be launching additional AirTran operated flights to their booking engine starting next week. As of right now those routes have yet to be announced, but I am definitely looking forward to more options with Southwest.
I’ve always been favorable to Southwest, but let me lay out the pro of each program:
Pros for booking with Southwest:
- 2 free checked baggage per passenger up to 50lbs (AirTran charges $25 for the first checked bag and $35 for the second checked bag).
- Companion pass capability: If you fly 100 segments or earn 110,000 qualifying points per calendar year you receive a companion pass to fly with you for free for the remainder of the year and the following year (can change your companion up to 3 times per year)
- Earning points: Earn a fixed 6 points per dollar for “Wanna Getaway” fares – this works best for expensive flights
- Redeeming points: Redeem at a fixed 60 points per dollar for “Wanna Getaway” fares – this works best for inexpensive flights
Pros for booking with AirTran:
- Companion pass capability: Must earn 100 credits by flying with AirTran and redeem those credits for the companion pass – this means that those earned 100 credits cannot be used for free flights, it is one or the other (with Southwest you do not need to redeem the points for the companion pass, but instead get the pass automatically and can still use the points earned)
- Earning credits: Earn a fixed 1 credit per flight flown – this works best for inexpensive flights
- Redeeming credits: Redeem at a fixed 16 credits per roundtrip flight – this works best for expensive flights
While AirTran representatives will many times override availability while redeeming, I’d prefer to go with Southwest. Southwest gives you a fixed 10% back with earning and redeeming points, so only if you can purchase cheap flights and redeem on expensive flights is AirTran worth it.
Stay tuned for more info to come next week!