AirTran Airways has continued to grow and prosper since we first recognized the upstart carrier in our awards three years ago. Travelers seeking to avoid the increasingly rapacious fares charged by major carriers for midweek business trips are flocking to AirTran. That's because the airline never requires a round-trip purchase or a Saturday-night stayover.
AirTran also recently bought the first 16 of 50 brand-new Boeing 717 aircraft. In addition, the airline offers last-minute upgrades to "business class" seats at the front of the plane, where travelers will find enough room to spread out and get some work done--or relax--for just $25 more than its standard coach-class fares. And for small businesses, AirTran's A2B Corporate Travel Program offers upgrades, reduced restrictions, lower change fees and bonus frequent-flier points.
Last year, American, Delta, Trans Air, TWA, United and US Airways signed "interline" agreements with AirTran, meaning passengers of delayed or cancelled flights can be reaccommodated on the other airlines (or vice versa) for no additional charge. This is good news not only for AirTran passengers, but also for the airline, as acceptance from the big boys shows that they no longer see AirTran as a struggling upstart.
Systemwide, AirTran now operates 310 daily flights between 34 cities, mostly in the Midwest and on the East Coast, with its major hub in Atlanta.