Monday, September 27, 2010

The End of Southwest As We Know It? (Or the Beginning?)

It’s getting interesting again. Southwest Airlines has announced its intention to buy AirTran. Even though the news is only hours old, there have already been a lot of words spilled about routes, hubs, and the like. The airlines even already have the obligatory merger website up.

Much of the news centers about integration of aircraft, and about how Southwest now gets access to Atlanta – a big draw for business travelers. Southwest is attractive to business travelers? With no assigned seats? With all-coach seating?

Or does this mean that Southwest might just adopt some of AirTran’s approach (assigned seats, two cabins, baggage fees, etc.)? Any way you look at it, this seems a huge change in the U.S. airline industry.

UPDATE: Just got deeper into the merger FAQ page. Southwest states: “It is our intent” (ad nauseam) that there will be no assigned seats; no baggage fees; no change fees; only a single class of service. Basically, we see this as just a bigger Southwest – an airline we already don’t want to fly.