AirTran to charge overweight passengers for two seats

AirTran Airways will adopt a Southwest Airlines policy of requiring overweight passengers to buy two airplanes seats next year, a spokesman confirmed to The Hill on Wednesday. 

Southwest, which acquired AirTran earlier this year, requires customers who cannot fit into seats on their planes with the armrests down to purchase an extra seat. The price is sometimes refunded if there are empty seats on the plan when the flight is closed for takeoff.

Orlando, Fla.-based AirTran, which has its hub in Atlanta, will begin requiring its passengers to do the same as the two companies seek permission to operate as one company from the Federal Aviation Administration. 

A spokesman for Southwest told The Hill Wednesday the change for AirTran was part of an effort to align the airline's policies as their merger moves forward.

In May of this year, Southwest purchased AirTran for $1.4 billion in the last merger of large airlines.

In 2010, United and Continental airlines merged, and in 2008, Delta and Northwest airlines combined.