In a taste of things to come, some AirTran flights are now losing their bag fees.
AirTran normally charges $25 for a first checked bag and $35 for the second. But parent company Southwest Airlines, which doesn't charge such fees, is waiving those fees on AirTran flights when customers pair AirTran flights with a Southwest segment, or purchase those AirTran flights through a Southwest point of sale.
The exception to AirTran's longtime bag charges are part of a Southwest initiative, announced last week, that has it connecting its network with merger partner AirTran in 39 cities, giving customers of each airline the ability to place flights from one airline into a single itinerary from the other in a single reservation.
For example, starting Feb. 25, customers will be able to add an AirTran international flight into a Southwest itinerary by making a single reservation through AirTran.com, AirTran's toll-free reservations number, ticket counters and travel agencies.
And, customers booking through Southwest.com, Southwest's apps, ticket counters and over the phone will be able to add one or more AirTran flights within the U.S. to their Southwest itineraries.
Southwest rolled out these capabilities in five cities late last month and is expanding the program to 39 cities later in February.
Southwest plans on fully connecting the Southwest and AirTran networks in April, when it seems that AirTran's bag fees will be gone forever -- or at least until Southwest decides to scrap its "Bags Fly Free" policy and marketing.
In outlining the connecting of the two airlines' networks, Southwest explained how it is making an exception to the standard way that code shares work. Southwest states:
"As is standard with industry "code share" arrangements, the Marketing Carrier's rules and policies apply to reservations and ticketing. The Operating Carrier's procedures apply to boarding, seating, and the onboard experience.""Southwest is making one exception: any itinerary with a Southwest segment or that is purchased through a Southwest point-of-sale channel will not have bag fees for the first or second checked bag (weight and size restrictions apply)."
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