Southwest Airlines Changes The Atlanta Landscape – Watch Out Delta

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Sunday Febuary 12, 2012, Southwest Airlines changed the way Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport operates with 15 Southwest flights direct from Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport. Watch out Delta, they are just getting started. Southwest Airlines launched service to Austin, Baltimore/Washington, Chicago, Denver and Houston Hobby.

Watch Out Delta – Atlanta Is Under Attack From Southwest

Southwest Airlines will continue to shake up the power structure in Atlanta throughout 2012. In March they will start flights to Las Vegas and Phoenix directly competing with Delta and US Airways traffic. In June they will begin competing on the Los Angeles routes. Then in August they will start service to Norfolk, Louisville and Seattle/Tacoma.

What Will This Mean To Airtran Flights From Atlanta

From Atlanta Business Chronicle

AirTran will continue flying in some form for a couple of years, as Southwest gradually converts AirTran planes into the Southwest fleet. You can still buy tickets on AirTran through AirTran’s website, you can still check in for AirTran flights at AirTran ticket counters and fly on AirTran planes. Southwest acquired AirTran last year, is operating it as a subsidiary and expects to get a single operating certificate from the federal government in March, giving it clearance to combine the two airlines and begin in earnest the process of converting AirTran’s flight operations into Southwest over the next couple of years. Seattle will be the first AirTran operation that Southwest will fully convert to Southwest service, effective in August.

Discontinued Airtran Flights From Atlanta

From Atlanta Business Chronicle…

Southwest has announced it is discontinuing AirTran’s flights from Atlanta to White Plains, N.Y.; Sarasota, Fla.;  Atlantic City, N.J.; Newport News, Va.; Dulles International in Washington, D.C.; and Bloomington/Normal in Illinois.

What Will Happen To Airtran A+ Rewards

Do not worry about your Airtran A+ rewards, if you have any. They will be merged into Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program. The details of the conversion are still being worked out.

Bottom Line

Southwest Airlines will bring continued competition to the Atlanta airport. While the A+ program will go away sometime in the near future, you can be assured by Southwest that their Rapid Rewards program will absorb the A+ program members.

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About The Weekly Flyer

The Weekly Flyer writes about travel from a business traveler perspective. He travels the world every week accumulating points and miles along the way.

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  1. Southwest is pretty much an exact clone of what Airtran used to be: A crowded if not somewhat addlepated airline offering “lower” prices (that Delta can easily price match) and quick turnarounds that are great if things work out but a no-alternative nightmare if weather or other circumstances messes plans up.

    Southwest used to be rather cool, but they’ve been coasting on their old reputation while switching out their segment-based rewards system to a miles based one and making a bunch of silly financial decisions (like buying Airtran) which took away their biggest bargaining chip: Super-low “you can’t even hope to match us” pricing. The only thing Southwest does different is free baggage up front… which you can get on Delta by signing up for a credit card.

    As the first commenter said, Delta doesn’t have anything to worry about.

  2. I agree with the consensus here. Southwest is not a “competitor” of equal footing with Delta. If you don’t care about having an assigned seat, rushing to check in to have an earlier boarding zone, and flying on very old planes with no cabin to upgrade to, and limited routes, then this is the airline for you. Yes, they can beat Delta’s fares for some markets, but when it comes to loyalty, I want an airline who has a big reach, a great upgrade program, and guarantees I’ll be in the seat I chose when I booked. No threat here, just another lower cost alternative with fewer services for those who would like to “maybe” spend a little less.

    Competition is good and I welcome them to ATL, but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking this will put a huge dent in Delta’s income.

  3. Hi Interesting – No one is fooling anyone. I do think Southwest will put pricing pressure on certain DL routes, i.e. Louisville which they are currently the only direct flight from ATL…other than Vision Airlines Inc.

    Would also be great to see some price moderation on certain routes that Delta charges a high premium for awards, ATL>LAX in First which is frequently at the 80k level.

  4. ATL LAX was already being covered by Airtran. If Delta wasn’t feeling threatened by that enough to charge high miles premiums… Southwest certainly wont scare them into it.

    Furthermore, now Delta will be able to reduce price moderation overcharge for their ATL IAD flight and several other cancelled routes.

    The theory of Southwest being a David to Delta’s Goliath only works if they were going to expand Airtran’s footprint. Instead they seem to be reducing it. They’re simply cannibalizing Airtran’s international routes and newer planes. I wouldn’t be surprised if Southwest left ATL in a huff citing high gate fees in 5 years. They’ve already done it once before.

  5. I consider myself a fairly frugal traveler and I cannot stand Southwest. Give me a freakin seat assignment. The whole line up for boarding feels like grade school. I was hoping they would adopt a few things from AirTran, mainly seat assignments and a premium class service. Neither is going to happen. I also agree that their planes leave much to be desired. Nothing about flying Southwest makes me want to run and book another ticket with them.

  6. In my opinion, Southwest is not great. It’s not even good. I never fly them but had to catch a flight at last minute and they were the only choice. Herded up like farm animals like everybody jokes about, shoved into the tube and then the fun begins. I was sitting in back of little Eli who was 2 years old with a mother that did not restrain him or discipline him. This was a mother who had her son on a leash attached to him with some sort of harness (fitting for Southwest is it not)? Anyway he started jumping up and down and climbing over the seat and if it got any worse I was calling the flight attendant to complain. The guy next to me that was “C” group got stuck in the middle seat, and he was sick, constantly coughing (lucky me). I will take another carrier over this airline any day of the week. But sometimes there is no choice in the matter. I do not think Southwest can compare to Delta or any other airline that offers a business class ticket. It is simply not the same. Also – the fees on Southwest have DRASTICALLY INCREASED, as others here have mentioned.

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