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Frequent Flyer Movement Takes on Southwest Airline’s Unseating of AirTran Passenge

rs in Proposed Acquisition
AirTran Frequent Flyers Ban Together at in “SOS: Save Our Seats” Camp
Atlanta, GA, October 28, 2010 -- Southwest Airlines’s $1.4 billion takeover of Air
Tran Airways hit consumer turbulence as AirTran’s most frequent flyers banded toge
ther in a campaign to save assigned seating and business class. The group launch
ed last week in a “SOS: Save Our Seats” campaign designed to keep som
e of AirTran’s best attributes a part of the Southwest acquisition. The campaign q
uickly attracted hundreds of like-minded travelers threatening to take their bus
iness to another carrier unless Southwest preserves the best aspects of AirTran
in the combined carrier.
Unlike previous passenger movements in the wake of airline acquisitions, the Air group does not seek to block the acquisition. The consumer group sim
ply asks Southwest on the organization’s website to “combine the best of Southwest w
ith the best of AirTran” pleading with the airline to “save AirTran’s assigned seats,
business class seats, in-seat Wi-Fi / XM Radio, and frequent flyer seats to anyw
here in the world.”
Southwest posted at that it was their intention to elimi
nate assigned seating and business class when the airlines integrated. In press
interviews since that statement both airlines have underlined the “intention” portio
n of that proposition, but have not retracted the original statement despite str
ong consumer calls to the contrary. After the acquisition is completed, the comb
ined Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways would feature a combined fleet compl
ete with 25% of the aircraft already configured with business class and assigned
seating capabilities.
In a twist of irony, the website uses AirTran’s own video commercia
l against Southwest. The commercial depicts Southwest passengers dressed as cows
with carry-on luggage being herded in the airline’s trademark “cattle call” in zones
A, B, and C fighting their way down the jet way. The commercial features an AirT
ran passenger comfortably seated in business class being served a drink. The Air
Tran passenger looks out the window and shakes her head at the confused Southwes
t passenger “cattle” lost without seats on the tarmac. The commercial ends with the
AirTran logo as the announcer says, “Skip the stampede. AirTran Airways. Assigned
seats, business class, and Wi-Fi on every flight.”
The movement started on Randy Peterson’s with outrage
from passengers protective of AirTran’s low-cost, premium service product. AirTra
n’s Facebook page was immediately flooded with scores of comments critical of Sout
hwest’s boarding policies and lack of business class. AirTran has repeatedly respo
nded to customers on Facebook encouraging customers to wait and see what the pro
posed acquisition brings.
“This is simply a campaign begging Southwest Airlines to keep the best of AirTran
Airways alive. The Southwest spirit is phenomenal, but the airline can reach new
heights by taking the best of AirTran’s in-
flight product with assigned seats, business class, and Wi-Fi,” spo
kesperson Joe Leader stated. “No one should have to fight for a seat on-board an a
ircraft. Families and colleagues should be able to sit together. Business profes
sionals and passengers of size should be able to upgrade to a seat that accommod
ates them with dignity.” Leader is an AirTran Elite member that has earned hundred
s of free flights and was featured years ago in AirTran’s in-flight magazine as th
e airline’s most frequent flyer. The airline assigned Leader the frequent flyer nu
mber ending “00000001” and even provided free lifetime flight privileges to his dog
named “AirTran” in honor of the airline when she was rescued in Atlanta from the Sma
ll Dog Rescue and Humane Society.
The economic impact of Southwest removing AirTran’s business class could be tremen
dous. A recent economic impact study by Brian Campbell of Campbell-Hill Aviation
Group indicated that Delta increased fares by as much as 78% after AirTran exit
ed a market. AirTran’s presence forces major airline to match their aggressively p
riced business class product in nearly 70 markets. “AirTran’s business class product
has set them apart in the low cost carrier industry,” InterFlight Global Corporat
e 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.”
The AirTran SOS campaign follows a tradition of successful airline protection ca
mpaigns based in Atlanta. In 2003, a passenger-created movement called SaveSkyMi also forced Delta to bend to passenger demands after a 734 day campaign
that solicited thousands of Delta SkyMiles members with billions of miles. In 20
06, Delta’s employee-created and passenger-backed movement “Keep Delta My Delta” succe
ssfully helped fend off a 2006 takeover attempt of the airline by US Airways. Th
e AirTranSOS campaigned vowed to continue their campaign in good faith until Sou
thwest agrees to keep the best, passenger-friendly seat attributes of AirTran a
part of the proposed combined carrier.
About Us the Consumer Group: The consumer group is
committed to encouraging Southwest Airlines to preserve the best attributes of
AirTran Airways: assigned seats, business class seats, in-seat Wi-Fi / XM Radio,
and frequent flyer seats to anywhere in the world. The campaign is soliciting h
elp from frequent flyers, business leaders, and communities to make two great ai
rlines even greater. Please sign up at using the contact form
Disclaimer: The group is not associated in any way with Southwest
Airlines or AirTran Airways. It is a consumer advocacy website expressing the o
pinion of concerned frequent flyers via noncommercial fair use of the marks unde
r the First Amendment. All marks remain the property of their respective owners.
Press Contacts: (678) 404-0445,
Interflight Global Corporation: (305) 400-6789,
Joe Leader
Atlanta, GA
(678) 404-0445