Southwest is already a major player here in Houston, with about 840 weekly flights departing Hobby Airport. AirTran has a presence, but not much of one, with only 38 flights out of Hobby a week. Tom Parson's is with BestFares.com and says the deal really opens up the skies for flights that weren't possible on Southwest up until now.
"If you think about Houston, you've got good service from Southwest and you've got good service from AirTran, but it was pretty patchy. Now with Southwest taking over those markets you'll be able to fly up to 100 destinations on Southwest. It's going to make Continental, or the new United Continental and American, and Delta and US Airways
deal with us more fairly."
Parsons says even though the deal could actually make Southwest a little more expensive to fly, overall, other major carriers will likely have to do more to compete with what are usually much cheaper fares.
"Southwest Airlines, just like they have been for many years, will now be the biggest gorilla in the sky, especially when it comes to travel within the 48 states, they will carry more passengers under what they did a couple of years ago and what they'll do in the future than any US airline and they become a force to be reckoned with and that's good for both the leisure and business travelers to get a fair shake on a good airfare."
He says he expects Southwest to use its no extra charge for baggage policy on its new routes and says other airlines might have to rethink their charges after the deal is finalized.