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Q&A | How Southwest's purchase of AirTran would affect fliers

How long will it take for the airlines to merge?

AirTran stockholders and federal regulators need to approve the purchase, and the two airlines say that could take months. Southwest said that once the deal closes, it could take as long as two years for the airlines to integrate and begin operating as one carrier.

What if I'm booked on an AirTran flight?

The airlines will continue to operate separately until the deal is completed, meaning any AirTran flights in the near future will proceed as usual, under AirTran's direction.

Frequent-flier miles?

Southwest says it will merge AirTran's A+ Rewards program into its own Rapid Rewards frequent-flier program over time. It will notify customers as the process moves forward.

Do baggage fees go away?

As long as Southwest maintains its "bags fly free" policy, it does. However, Southwest hasn't said how soon it intends to bring AirTran under its fee structure.

What about other fees?

Here's how the two airlines stack up in three areas:

Southwest: pets in cabin, $75; pets as cargo, free; unaccompanied minor, $50.

AirTran: pets in cabin, $65; pets as cargo, free; unaccompanied minor: $49.

What will it mean for Southwest's fleet?

CEO Gary Kelly said Southwest has decided to keep AirTran's 86 Boeing 717 aircraft. Southwest has only Boeing 737s in its fleet, though AirTran's 52 Boeing 737-700s add to Southwest's total of nearly 550 737s.

Complied from Q&As in the Orlando Sentinel and Dallas Morning News and from Cox Newspapers.

Q&A | How Southwest's purchase of AirTran would affect fliers 09/27/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 12:24am]
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