We are well underway in the process of integrating AirTran into Southwest at airports where both airlines operate. Generally, integration projects begin with our Project Managers in Dallas. They determine future needs based on flight schedules, staffing and other operational requirements. Once the needs of both airlines have been determined, the Project Managers work with my department (Tech Services) on how to combine all or parts of the airlines’ operations.
After a plan is set by all of the Team Members, a date is picked for the integration work. On the night of the project, the integration team goes over the plan for the night. In most cases, we are able to stick to our plan. However, allowing for flexibility during integrations is key to ensuring the project remains a success.
During the evening a few months ago, my coworkers and I removed a section of our existing Ticket Counter in Buffalo. In just under an hour, new millwork was set into
its space to be used by AirTran. Baggage scales were added and calibrated on either side of the millwork. Holes and straps were added in the new millwork to support our technology equipment such as kiosks, monitors and cables.
Since AirTran and Southwest use the same kiosk type, we simply moved their kiosks from the old AirTran area and installed them on our new Southwest millwork. To ensure dual-use kiosk functionality by both airlines, we installed our software and added a few cables to each existing AirTran kiosk. Upgrades and changes to our kiosk software allows for any AirTran or Southwest customer to check-in on it.
Next, we installed, configured and tested the computers and printers used by Customer Service Agents. These computers have both AirTran and Southwest software installed and configured. Some of the AirTran software requires additional hardware and cabling that normally would not be installed at airports where only Southwest operates.
Once the newly combined Ticket Counter was set up and tested, we removed all of the existing technology equipment from the old AirTran space. In addition, we worked with the Customer Service Agents and trained them on how the equipment functions for both airlines at the newly combined location.
The next time you fly us, take a few moments to look around you. Chances are, you will notice our two brands – Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways operating side-by-side. That’s what we like to call, “One LUV!”