Southwest making predictions, all sorts of news today

Southwest Airlines used its annual media day, staged at its headquarters at Dallas Love Field today, to tout its "bags fly free" ad campaign, discuss plans for its purchase of AirTran Airways and announce its schedule when it starts flights from Newark next spring. In case you're concerned, Southwest officials said repeatedly that they love not charging for bags because it has distinguished them from competing airlines, and the company has absolutely no intention of changing the policy.

The AirTran deal got much of the attention, with a senior executive predicating that Atlanta, AirTran's main hub and a city Southwest doesn't yet serve, could some day be the airline's largest city in terms of flights per day. That's an indication of how important Atlanta is to Southwest in filling in a gap in its route network.

The Newark schedule, to start March 27, will involve just eight daily flights to start, six to Chicago Midway and two to St. Louis.