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Air Tran or Southwest

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  • Air Tran or Southwest

    Now that ATA has left Indy, our choices for a direct flight to Orlando is now between Air Tran and Southwest (Northwest is too expensive). Has anyone been on both airlines? Which do you prefer? Our son is autistic, pre-boarding is essential. I assume both airlines allow that.
    It's hard to be cool when your dad is Goofy.

  • #2
    Try flying out of Minneapolis-St. Paul where Northwest Airlines is king...:mad:....I wish I had those two choices.
    “We live in a great and free country only because our forefathers were willing to wage war rather than accept the peace that spells destruction” Theodore Roosevelt

    "There is nothing patriotic about hating your country, or pretending that you can love your country but despise your government. There is nothing heroic about turning your back on America, or ignoring your own responsibilities." Bill Clinton


    • #3
      I only flew Southwest one time (one way) and it was first come first served seating. I don't think they have pre-boarding (though I'm no expert).

      I will sure miss ATA...


      • #4
        I asked a question about Southwest and preboarding on a airlines message board and got this answer.

        "WN (southwest) does pre-boarding right. Unlike other airlines, they require you to "prove" that you need to pre-board by getting the blue pass. On some airlines, you can simply fake a limp and walk on before everyone else.

        Also, WN has done the right thing by disallowing pre-boards to take exit row seats. This was a big complaint from frequent A-board groups -- if people are so disabled that they need to pre-board, how can they perform the exit row duties?

        But, with the autistic child, they should have no problem."

        And I found this from the Airtran website.

        "Boarding Assistance
        If you would like pre-boarding assistance due to a disability, please advise the AirTran Airways agent. The agent will help you pre-board, allowing you to be seated prior to general boarding."


        • #5
          Thanks wynn and everyone else.

          West, sounds like you aren't the biggest NWA fan out there.

          I know Southwest is financially sound, not sure about Air Tran. After ATA, that could impact my decision.
          It's hard to be cool when your dad is Goofy.


          • #6
            When given a choice, always take the financially sound airline, then the one that doesn't have active labor disputes next.
            "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved
            body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting
            "...holy $^!+...what a ride!"


            • #7
              Southwest has been pretty good the last few times I have gone from Detroit to Texas. The flight attendents are pretty funny, and the fares have been pretty low.


              • #8
                Hoo-ray!! A thread where I can make a realistic contribution.

                I've flown over 100 legs each of the last three years on Southwest (enough to earn my Companion Pass each year). As posted by wynnspeed, there is absolutely no problem with pre-boarding on Southwest. Any child under 5, children traveling alone, or "anyone requiring some additional time to board" can pre-board providing they obtain the blue slip from the gate agent. They have cracked down on the number of people who can pre-board together. That used to be a loophole where 3 couples traveling together would all board with one kid, and they have FINALLY made sure that pre-boards don't take the exit rows, but the popular pre-board areas at the front and rear nearest the restrooms and galleys are fair game. I love Southwest, but they are a different mindset from the rest of the industry.

                Airtran is more of a conventional airline (assigned seats, B-Class seating) but trying to use some of the Southwest mantra (single aircraft type, quicker turns). They seem to have an on-time problem, much of which may be due to using Hartsfield as their main hub. I've flown them several times and it was never a bad experience, but you will have to go through ATL on longer flights. Even Southwest has coast-to-coast non-stops now (not many, but some). That said, AirTran does have nice planes. The B-717's are quiet and comfortable. They've done a brilliant thing in extending the depth of the overheads by about 6", enough that a 22" bag will go in on end, and also molding in a handrail for in-flight aisle walkers.

                Depending on how many trips you make, the Southwest frequent flier program is pretty easy. By booking online you can get an extra credit and they do not place nearly as many limitations on using the tickets as other FF programs. AirTran's program is pretty similar IIRC.

                I wouldn't have qualms over whichever one fits your schedule better, but Southwest has proven themselves to be a financially strong and solid airline, If I had to plan on one of them being around for a while, I'd bet on WN.


                • #9
                  Well, looks like it will be Southwest to see Mickey this spring. Thanks, guys.

                  I hope this doesn't cause them to file for bankruptcy.
                  It's hard to be cool when your dad is Goofy.


                  • #10
                    Southwest ROCKS! It is by far my favorite airline. I fly SW several times per year, and some other airline at least once per year. I think SW was the ONLY domestic airline to remain profitable after 9/11, but I'm not positive about that. Never rode Air Tran so have no comparison there.


                    • #11
                      Southwest works if:

                      You can arrive early enough to get the A pass and board first (or pre-board). Otherwise expect middle seats or not keeping your group together.

                      NEVER use Southwest if you have to connect. You WILL get to board last on the connection. For instance I would never fly them from IND to ORD to LAX because I will get a crappy seat on the long leg.

                      They have the lowest fares and are financially sound so that's good if you are buying early.

                      You can not search for flights on the common ticket locators (Expedia, Orbitz) but rather have to go their own website.

                      I would consider them for personal travel for direct flights only. For business, I fly someone else.

                      AirTran is just like all the other airlines. Online booking, frequent flyer programs and check-in. They use all MD-80s/717s (3 and 2 seating). They have XM on a significant portion of their airplanes.

                      I fly often...


                      • #12
                        Thanks crispy. It is direct, no problems there. I talked to one of Southwest's representatives, she said we can check in on-line up to 24 hours before departure and get an A pass, but we should be able to pre-board.

                        The good thing is, if we don't like them, we'll try Air Tran next time.

                        akhindallas, you fly almost as much as a flight crew!
                        It's hard to be cool when your dad is Goofy.


                        • #13
                          Missed out on this one -

                          I'm Airtran all the way. The FF program is ridiculously easy to get free stuff. On top of that Airtran has mirrored the eastern Delta routes - everything does go into Atlanta. Unlike Delta, they have friendly agents, nice planes, great service, and no bankruptcy. All at about 25-50% less than Delta.

                          Plus, you can sign up for E-Newsletters where they send you via email, fare sales.

                          I got round trip tickets from Dayton to Ft. Lauderdale for $149.

                          The only negative about airtran is that they have "holes" in their schedules. They don't have lots of flights.
                          "We won a few races here and there, but the magic died the day Helmet melted." - Doc Austin on slotcar champion Michael Shannon


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Grover
                            I only flew Southwest one time (one way) and it was first come first served seating. I don't think they have pre-boarding (though I'm no expert).

                            I will sure miss ATA...
                            I have flown both and Southwest is by far the better of the two.

                            Southwest DOES have preboarding, and yes, it is first come first serve on the seating.....hint hint, don't arrive at the airport one hour early.
                            The transformation is complete. The Indy 500 is the only IndyCar race that matters.


                            • #15
                              Airtran just sent me an email on the net-escapes email sale.

                              here's the link.

                              Find low fares to top destinations on the official Southwest Airlines website. Book flight reservations, rental cars, and hotels on southwest.com.

                              Indianapolis & Chicago now on sale.....

                              Chicago & Indianapolis on Sale!
                              To celebrate our expanding service in the Midwest, AirTran Airways has put Chicago and Indianapolis on sale. These special fares are valid for travel to/from Florida through February 23, and for travel to/from all other cities through June 15, 2006.

                              Book your tickets by Thursday, January 12, 2006. These fares require a 7-day advance purchase and are valid for travel every day of the week.

                              Chicago (Midway) on sale from $44* to $109* one-way.
                              AirTran now offers nonstop service from Chicago (Midway) to: Atlanta, Boston, Dallas/Ft. Worth (begins May 9), Minneapolis/ St. Paul, Newark (begins March 8), Orlando, and Sarasota/Bradenton, with connecting service to many more cities.

                              Indianapolis on sale from $54* to $119* one-way.
                              AirTran offers nonstop service from Indianapolis to: Atlanta, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, Orlando, Sarasota/Bradenton, and Tampa, with connecting service to many more cities.

                              "We won a few races here and there, but the magic died the day Helmet melted." - Doc Austin on slotcar champion Michael Shannon


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