AirTran Airways

AirTran adopting Southwest’s “passenger of size” policy

If you’re too round to fit between the armrests in an AirTran Airways coach seat, you’ll may soon have to purchase two seats in order to fly.

As I reported on’s Overhead Bin, AirTran is being integrated into Southwest Airlines and, beginning March 1, 2012, the airline will adopt Southwest’s current “customers of size” policy.

According to AirTran’s recently updated contract of carriage, air travelers will be required to purchase an additional seat if the passenger, “in the carrier’s sole discretion, encroaches on an adjacent seat and/or is unable to sit in a single seat with the armrest lowered.”

That matches the wording of Southwest Airline’s customers of size policy, which states: “Customers who encroach upon any part of the neighboring seat(s) should proactively book the needed number of seats prior to travel. The armrest is considered to be the definitive boundary between seats and measures 17 inches in width.”

The width of coach seats on AirTran’s current fleet of airplanes is 18 inches.

Previously, AirTran did not have a specific “customer of size” policy in its contract of carriage and, instead, gave gate staff and crew members authority and responsibility to work out seatmate-of-size solutions on a case-by-case basis.

“Did air travelers who are large pick AirTran over Southwest because AirTran didn’t have such a strict policy? I think they looked at the ticket price,” said Rick Seaney, CEO of

“AirTran is basically becoming Southwest,” Seaney said. “The two airlines are merging their boarding process, their fleets, their award program and their attitude. So this is just a normal course of business.”

George Hobica, president of, said he’s not surprised to see AirTran adopting Southwest’s policies.

“It’s probably a good thing for the comfort of all,” he said. “But I wonder if [the policy] is observed more in the breach than the practice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen passengers that are way too big to fit in one seat getting a free pass.”

(Image courtesy

Souvenir Sunday: shopping the airline stores

Each Sunday here at we take a look at some of the fun, inexpensive, souvenirs you can pick up in airport shops.  This week, we’re taking what may end up being a several-week side-trip into souvenirs sold by airlines.  Going alphabetically…

Poking around the AirTrain Airways website I found an AirTran Airways Airport Play Set for $10.50, just a wee bit beyond our $10 Souvenir Sunday limit.

This construction set at $5.99 was a better option. As was the Airplane Cockpit Clock, at $9.95.

But over at the Alaska Airlines site I hit pay dirt. This doggie hoodie –with pouch pocket! – comes in four sizes and three colors – but at $15 is out of the Souvenir Sunday budget. (I don’t even own or a dog or know anyone who’d dress their dog in this fashion. But maybe you do..)

But in the $10 range I found what looks like a metal thermos for $10 (the site says silver, but nothing more..) and  pint-size pilot hats, which I’m certain would be a big hit for any kid heading to the airport.

Have you found a great souvenir while stuck at the airport? If it’s costs $10 or less, is “of” the city or region and is, ideally a bit offbeat, please snap a photo and send it along. It may end up on a future edition of Souvenir Sunday!

Airports – and now airlines – trash talking each other

For my At the Airport column on this month, Airport wars escalate with attack ads aimed at rivals, I wrote about a new YouTube video about San Francisco International Airport, that features cameo appearances by SF  Mayor Gavin Newsom and Marion & Vivian Brown, the kooky 83-year-old identical twins who have become beloved San Francisco icons.  Designed to promote SFO as the connecting hub of choice for travelers coming to the United States from New Zealand or Australia, the short video compares SFO’s airy, international terminal to an unnamed airport simply referred to as “the bad airport.”

An SFO spokesperson insists there is no specific “bad airport,” but given the target market I’d guess, oh… that LAX is the airport campaign designers had in mind.

Other airports have no problem calling out the competitor they’re trashing by name. Canada’s Edmonton International Airport recently rolled out a “Stop the Calgary Habit” campaign, urging residents of central and northern Alberta to stop connecting through or driving to Calgary International Airport.  The campaign has tag line: “When you go south, so does your air service,”; videos showing repentant passengers; and a tool kit that includes an “Emergency Hypno Cure” to help break the habit.

Of course, there was the challenge Air New Zealand threw down to Southwest Airlines.  Air New Zealand  produced a series of cheeky commercials and an in-flight safety video that showed airline employees dressed in nothing but cleverly applied body paint.  Then ANZ challenged Southwest Airlines to do the same:

Southwest’s answer?  “We’d rather rap”:

Now we have two airlines trading smackdown videos.  Air Tran Airways and Southwest.  See how Southwest started it.

Air Tran’s response?

“We thought about it and thought about it and decided to not respond at all. After all, focusing on running the best low-cost carrier in America is enough to keep us busy.  BUT…if we were to respond, it might look something like this:”

Can’t wait to see what’s next!

Travel contests: you can’t win if you don’t play

Traveling is expensive. Especially if you want to eat and sleep when you get somewhere.

So we’ll start the week off with two contests you many want to enter to help subsidize an adventure.

AirTran Airways has a Facebook-linked sweepstakes encouraging students to become a “Facebook creeper,” which they describe as someone who “crawls Facebook, obsessively checking the content of other people’s profiles.” (That does sound sort of creepy)

The airline has set up the AirTran U Creeper page and is giving away one round trip flight per week  through the end of November 2010.  Here are the details about the AirTran Airways “creeper” contest.

Not a creeper? If you or someone you know is under 23 years old – in college or not – keep in mind that AirTran has a program that offers cheap standby tickets year-round.

[For more details about this and other student airfare deals see the article I wrote last September for Travel Discounts for the College-Bound ]

And, here’s one for fans of Hawaii and Olympic medal-winning speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno.

Alaska Airlines is running a contest for a 4-night/5 day Hawaiian vacation (for two) on Maui. And yes, Ohno will join you at the luau. .  The contest runs through April 15th and you can get lots of extra entries by connecting through social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Enter the Follow Apolo to Hawaii contest here.

Good luck! And if you win, please send us some souvenirs.