A Southwest Airlines ad campaign message during Thanksgiving. (Southwest.com )
Southwest Airlines, which has pummeled its competitors with an advertising campaign boasting that “bags fly free,” will continue to charge a checked bag fee at its subsidiary AirTran Airways at least until 2014.
Southwest Chief Executive Gary Kelly said a full integration between Southwest and the airline it purchased in 2010 will not be completed for another two years.
Until then, he said, AirTran will continue to collect checked bag fees and reservation change charges, even though Southwest makes a point in television commercials and online ads of slamming its competitors for charging such fees.
“AirTran generates revenue its way; Southwest does business in a very different way,” Kelly told Bloomberg News. “Customers understand it is a different brand with a different package. We have said all that will be converted over time. It’s not an issue.”
And the revenue is significant. AirTran charges $20 for the first checked bag and $25 for the second. It also charges $75 to change or cancel reservations.
In the first nine months of last year, AirTran collected $128 million in baggage fees and $38.4 million fees from reservation changes, federal data show.
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