With the upcoming merger between Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways, customers of AirTran are appealing to Southwest through the SOS (Save Our Seats) Web site. The cornerstone of the Web site is a petition to Southwest/AirTran that states, “Please hear this petition as a rallying cry to take some of the best of AirTran and forever forward make it a part of Southwest.” The petition asks for Southwest to offer assigned seats (“We’re willing to pay a little extra for certainty …”), also offer business class seats (“… a requirement to serve business professionals and passengers of size with a seat they are willing to pay extra for.”), to offer WiFi on every flight and finally, to adopt the Dream Seats to Anywhere award option of AirTran’s where a member can get a seat on any airline to any destination worldwide for 100 credits (“People save points for ‘dream trips’ and Southwest can keep this dream alive.”).
As of this writing, only 604 travelers have signed the petition, but 94 percent indicate that they would “… change business to another airline if Southwest / AirTran do not SAVE OUR SEATS!”
To read more and voice your opinion, visit http://www.airtransos.com
Bottom line: AirTran passengers are not the only ones who see the demise of AirTran’s business class as a concern. Brian Campbell of Campbell-Hill Aviation Group recently indicated in an economic impact study that Delta increased fares by as much as 78 percent after AirTran exited a market–the thought is that AirTran’s business class presence has forced major airlines to be competitive to the low-cost carrier. And InterFlight Global Corporate founding partner Oscar Garcia stated, “The removal of those business class seats ultimately could cost American consumers millions of dollars per year if major airlines ratchet back up first class prices to historic first class levels.”
Southwest has publicly stated that business class and assigned seating will be discontinued when Southwest takes over. At least, they’ve stated their “intent” is that seat assignments and business class will not be offered. And if the petition cannot even garner 1,000 signatures, we can’t see Southwest making any big business decisions based on that number of passengers.