Southwest Vs Airtran

Since airfares are back at summer levels and my company likes cheap airfare I’ve been flying Airtran a lot recently despite my hatred of them and their inability to get me to my destination (although with the current pattern I think I have enough evidence to get a waiver from the travel policy).

This week I had to deal with an airfare cap that is unrealistic for the city pairs so I had to venture down to GSP to comply (since extra mileage is OK, but going over their airfare restriction isn’t :S) and I got to fly Southwest for the first time in a few years.

I’m not a fan of open seating, but since I checked in at 23:15 til my flight I was able to get an A boarding pass for both flights and thus got my window seat.  The planes were much cleaner than any Airtran plane I’ve been on recently, the seats weren’t all falling apart, and the leg room was great.  I don’t think legroom can get worse than Airtran in the US.  According to Seat Guru Airtran’s 717 has 30″ and the 737 as 31″, but it feels about the same.  Southwest as 32-33, but it sure feels like more.  I don’t have to spread my legs to prevent my knees from digging into the seat in front of me.

Airtran is nice with free XM and paid Wifi on every plane, but that only matters if you are into that.

My hope for the eventual merger:

Now that I’m almost Elite on Airtran I’d like for them to keep Business Class, but overall I’d rather have a seat that doesn’t lead me straight to the massage therapist so I’d like:

  • Seat pitch and seating configuration of Southwest
  • Hub and Spoke of Airtran instead of Milk Runs of Southwest
  • Assigned seats
  • XM radio
  • $5 for all alcohol

I know a lot of this has been discussed and decided, but I’m just chiming in with my $.02