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AirTran Loyalty Program Members to Transition to More Complicated and Costly Southwest Program

May 09, 2014 5:30 pm

Skift Take

AirTran loyalty program members are about to feel the pain of the integration with Southwest up close and personal — in their mileage redemptions.

— Dennis Schaal

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Southwest Airlines

An AirTran aircraft at Baltimore Washington International Airport. AirTran loyalty program members will transition to Southwest's program in November. Southwest Airlines


The AirTran Airways frequent-flier program will end in November and be folded into Southwest’s Rapid Rewards plan.

Southwest Airlines Co. spokeswoman Thais Conway said Friday that the company began notifying customers of the changes about two weeks ago but did not make a public announcement.

AirTran has a simple program in which members earn a single credit for a coach flight and a half-credit bonus for flying business class. Reward flights cost eight credits in coach or 16 in business class. Southwest’s program is much more complicated, with a point system based on how much customers spend.

Among the changes coming for AirTran customers:

— They have until Nov. 1 to earn, redeem and travel on AirTran credits.

— Each AirTran credit that hasn’t expired will be converted on Nov. 1 into 1,200 Southwest points.

— Elite-status frequent fliers on AirTran will be given Southwest “A-List” status through the end of 2015.

Dallas-based Southwest bought AirTran Airways in 2011 and plans to switch all its planes to the Southwest brand by year end.

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