No, ATA doesn't stand for Another Troubled Airline, though it may certainly feel that way after the struggling company filed for bankruptcy last night. ATA Holdings (NASDAQ:ATAH) is now looking to reorganize under Chapter 11 protection. Perhaps an extreme makeover is more like it, as what once was the country's 10th-largest airline also sold off its gate leases at three prominent airports to AirTran (NYSE:AAI), which will assume ATA's flight routes in those cities come next year.

American Trans Air -- the real ATA -- has flown passengers since 1986, and it's unfortunate to see another air carrier buckle under the pressure of running an airline in today's environment of fare wars, weary passengers, and costly jet fuel.

The fact that Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter recommendation JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ:JBLU) and other low-cost carriers are more than holding their own may give one hope that a leaner, rebuilt ATA has a shot to make it. Then again, it's the presence of those very entities that has many of the sector's established players shaking their heads, as they just don't have the low cost structure to compete.

And the rub is that they have little choice but to compete. Information is too prevalent these days. Travel sites such as InterActiveCorp's (NASDAQ:IACI) Expedia, Orbitz (NASDAQ:ORBZ), and Sabre's (NYSE:TSG) Travelocity make it a breeze to compare different carrier round-trip fares. One of our active discussion boards caters specifically to fellow Fools posting Cheap Air Fares deals as they happen. While one would think that this would spur air carriers to beef up their frequent flier programs to promote loyalty, the exact opposite has happened. Skimpier program benefits are thrusting the emphasis back on price, and that's the one game that only the nimble can play well.

ATA's move now has the industry turning to see what Delta (NYSE:DAL) will do as it too faces some serious questions this week about its own future. With Delta's flight superintendents making some deep concessions yesterday, maybe it won't be the next struggling air carrier to file. Then again, these days the skies have been anything but friendly.

It's not just JetBlue putting up a good product at a low price these days. What do you think of the other bargain carriers? Where do you find the best rates? All this and more -- in the Cheap Air Fares discussion board. Only on

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz thinks that there is more to the low fare phenomenon than blue potato chips at 30,000 feet. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story.