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Unforgotten: Airlines of the Past

eklendi
 
Part one: USA. Nothing is a more sobering testament to the unpredictability of the airline business than the long list of carriers that are no longer with us. From Pan Am and Braniff to Ozark and Southern, here's a look at America's most colorful and influential airlines of yesterday. (thepointsguy.com) Daha Fazlası...

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dee9bee
dee9bee 10
Small point: Many if not most of the airlines mentioned are still here in spirit, in the form of mergers. Ask around to employees of Delta, American, United, even Southwest...
jordanabrown
Alan Brown 6
A couple of quick comments. Trans-Texas was frequently referred to as Trans-Treetops for some of the smaller commuter flights, and World airlines was also a favorite of the military transport groups for U.S. to overseas movement of both service members and their families.
Quirkyfrog
My dad was coming back from Vietnam, and there was a plane crash (World?) a couple of days before, and my mom wasn't sue that he wasn't on that plane. I remember her pacing and freaking every time the phone rang, or there was a knock on the door. High stress times.
Lib4ever
We always said that the TTA acronym stood for "Try, Try Again."
bidrec
Richard Haas 2
I spent a very pleasant night in Brighton England when the World Airways plane I was on had a mechanical delay at Gatwick. They put us in the Metropole Hotel where the IRA later tried to blow up Maggie Thatcher. George Burns was featured in their ads. And I owned their 8% corporate bonds until they were called. This was flying from Rota Spain to JFK.
w7psk
Ricky Scott 2
Wife and I with our 2 young kids flew world from Rota to Philly. We left January 14th, it was 75 in Rota. Landed at Philly and it was 27 and snowing like a banshee. Next day we flew up to Brunswick my next duty station and it was 18 below. What a weather change.
bidrec
Richard Haas 2
Same thing but the other direction. I flew out of Philly during the blizzard of '77 and landed in Rota where it was warm and sunny. My previous duty station was NSGA Winter Harbor ME which reported to Brunswick. When I left Maine just before Christmas in '76 it had not yet snowed. January '77 made up for it, however.
joelwiley
joel wiley 2
Flew out of Monterey (Ft Ord) in July in winter greens at noon 63 & fog Puddle jumper to LAX
Landed in San Antonio (Ft Sam Houston) at midnight 85 deg, 85% humidity.
First times on an airplane.
jbsimms
James Simms 1
Flew from Birmingham, AL to Panama back in the late 90’s for National Guard Annual Training as my Guard unit was responsible for the retrograde of equipment & supplies from Panama prior to handing over the Canal Zone. One February it was snow blowing sideways in AL but when we landed @ Howard AFB 6-7 hours later it was mid 80’s & thunderstorms
smillerxx
Excellent read! Thank you for the memories :)
FBarrett
Frank Barrett 3
My favorite was Rocky Mountain Airways, with Twin Otters based in Denver flying to and from Colorado ski resorts: Aspen, Vail (STOL), Steamboat Springs, and more.
slederman1
Sam Ledeeman 2
Took one of those back in the 80's from Denver to Aspen on a cold snowy night. Vomit comet
yr2012
matt jensen 3
They missed a couple:
Midway
North Central - Republic
tyketto
Missed more than that:
The second go around for National (ROK).
Reno Air.
Sundance.
Primaris.
yr2012
matt jensen 2
Second go for Eastern & Braniff too
drdisque
Ben Deneweth 2
The second Eastern technically still exists. Braniff II was utterly forgettable.
mutrock
Mark Kortum 1
Did not forget Braniff II as I was an investor!
dtw757
mike SUT 2
They remembered Republic and North Central...
SteveCutchen
Steve Cutchen 2
Mohawk
They flew BAC 1-11s
mutrock
Mark Kortum 2
Did a 90+ degree roll in one of those following (too closely) a United 747 into O'Hare.
dlfehmel
Doug Fehmel 3
I was flying Pan Am and TWA into late 80's. I used to work in West Berlin, and there were only a few airlines available. The 4 powers treaty only allowed airlines from France, Britain and the USA to fly into West Berlin. Pan Am and TWA operated the US Airlines, British Airways represented the UK, and Air France / Euroberlin represented France. My Pan Am experience was that if you were sitting in the rear of their 737, you probably wouldn't get service, as the fight was less than an hour in duration. Great memories.
pvrlover
Excellent article. I have fond memories of flying on many of those airlines, both for business and pleasure! I had memorable flights on an Eastern L-1011 and on a Prinair flight between San Juan and St. Thomas. I loved the colorful planes of Braniff and the luxury of leather seats. And I marveled at the comfort of flying on Republic in an old DC-3 between Chicago and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Big comfy seats! What a change today, flying cramped in coach in one of the major carriers!
kerimparrot
Mike Williams 3
Back in about 1987, I did fly on Peoples Express from Tucson to Newark to Detroit. I got my girlfriend and me on the plane with prepaid tickets. Soon after the initial takeoff, the stewards asked for our flight receipts and other passengers were asked for money to pay for their flight! I have no idea what they did against the freeloaders. Have them work it off in Newark? Of turn them over to the police?
We may have been uninformed or stupid to change planes in Newark. We enjoyed Christmas snow at my parent's home north of Detroit. We learned how to clear the driveway with the new snowblower. Watch which way the wind is blowing the airborne snow. No periscopes or face masks.
Excellent article, I agree.
DavidMursch
David Mursch 3
Loved Western. Changed a flight from United to Western from SFO to SEA. Flew Northwest to and fro on military contract flights from McChord to Korea in 60's and 70's. Last military flight out of Korea was on Flying Tigers DC-8. Loved Continental. Think their B727's were one of the most beautiful planes ever. Never cared for Pan Am much. Braniff and National were ok. Same with Frontier and Hughes. Had a Continental military flight divert into Osan once because of fog at Kimpo. One thing I remember about all of them was the beauty of the Stewardesses and their professionalism.
Braniff77
Braniff77 3
The article mentions Midwest Express only in passing, but I have fond memories of 2x2 leather seats and fresh-baked cookies during flight. Ah, the aroma!
Kairho
Pretty much the same for Northeast's Yellow Birds, with steaks grilled(?) right on board. However prepared, boarding was an olfactory adventure, and not in a good way.
mutrock
Mark Kortum 2
Once had a delicious whole broiled trout (in coach) on Ozark from West Palm to St. Louis. Amazing!
clandel
I have a soft spot in my heart for PSA. As a college student in northern California in the early 70's with parents in southern California, I have fond memories of their late night, $20 first-come-first-served service from SFO to LAX (or maybe Burbank?). If I recall correctly, their operations resulted in a plane "stranded" at the end of the day at SFO that needed to be shuttled back to LA, and somebody got the bright idea of selling seats on the flight. You'd arrive around 10, get in line, get a ticket and away you'd go around midnight. What a great deal!

Tangential story: I *think* it was one of these flights where the flight was delayed for quite some time. Finally, they loaded us up on a bus that took us out to a Lockheed Constellation for our flight. I don't have any idea how that came about, but it was pretty cool to fly in that old plane.

Anyway, when US Air took over PSA, they immediately screwed it up with terrible customer service, vastly overbooking flights and generating tremendous ill-will. Friends of mine and I were doing a lot of travel up and down California at the time, and we quickly learned to avoid Useless Air at all costs. If I recall correctly, Southwest cleaned USAir's clock in that market, and Useless was gone in a year.
ostephen21
"The Midnight Flyer" was the marketing name for those cheap late night flights that you recall. These were actually mail flights, underwritten by the State of California. Two flights operated six (?) days a week, one southbound from SMF, the northbound from LAX, crossing in SFO. The bellies were stuffed with mail with barely enough room for passenger luggage. We were legally allowed to strap mail into passenger seats only on those flights, but fortunately that didn't occur frequently.
The replacement aircraft for the delayed flight that you remember would have been a Lockheed L-188 Electra turboprop...in the mid 1970s PSA operated a small number of "unretired" Electras from SFO and BUR to TVL and RNO. They really weren't that old by today's standards, just obsolete. They were still a good match to markets like South Lake Tahoe and Reno. A Good Airplane.
A few of us old PSA'ers still survive after all the mergers over the decades. Our co-workers refer to us as Raisins, as in California Raisins...old and wrinkled. We take the name with pride, and of course with a PSA Smile!
Kairho
I recall taking their Connies from SFO to RNO back in that same time period.
ostephen21
Kairo, your recollection is not of a Connie, but rather an Electra. PSA operated a fleet of Lockheed L-188 Electra turboprop aircraft until they were replaced by Boeing B727 aircraft in the early 1970s. A handful of Electras (4?) were "un-retired" a few years later, providing service to South Lake Tahoe (TVL) and eventually RNO...
...as a PSA new hire in 1975 I enjoyed working those airplanes, but that opinion was not universally shared. The airplane was loud, the cargo bays cramped, and the huge props intimidated anyone within 50ft of the airplane when everything was powered up. They were popular with the flight crews, and we all enjoyed the occasional weekend ski trips to Heavenly or North Shore.The Electra represented a big leap forward from the reciprocating engine powered Connies and DC-7s of the previous generation. Its time in the US domestic market was brief, as the jets quickly replaced anything with props in all but the regional markets. However,its US Navy brother, the P-3, enjoyed a long and successful career, and has only just recently been retired. Some specific variants still serve in a variety of jobs, from drug interdiction to aerial firefighting. A Good Airplane, as they say in the trade.
Kairho
Ack! My bad and aging memory.
jeoff10
Excellent memory flogger!
A shout out to my former 70's employer at KONT, Golden West Airlines, formerly Cable Commuter, formerly Aero Commuter. Their main equipment was the DHC-6 Twin Otter, along with the Shorts SD-330 and the Dash 7.
Gorgonzola323
Capital Airlines flew Lockeed Electras between Detroit and Cleveland. I lived near Detroit and attended university near Cleveland. I would occasionally come home for long weekends or holidays. My dad had the choice of driving round trip to take me back to school or pony up $11 and dump me off at Metro. A grueling 10 hour drive versus $11 from his poker stash was an easy decision.
morsemanc
When I was about eight years old, I remember a seven-stop trip from Buffalo to Raleigh on a Capital DC-3, with a plane change in Washington. The captain invited me up to the cockpit to sit in the right seat for part of the trip, and then later in heavy turbulence, I threw up! My Mom wore a fancy dress and hat, and I had on a cap and tie. Those were the days!
ImperialEagle
ImperialEagle 1
I respectfully submit that Capital was never able to use the L-188's it had ordered. They could not survive financially and were quickly merged into United. United cancelled the L-188 order.
Capitol did have a large fleet (for the day) of Vicker's Viscount propeller-turbine aircraft that United like well enough to keep.
They had wonderful large oval windows.
jahorvath
John Horvath 2
Having worked for Continental Airlines (66-69), and Pan Am (70-91), this finely written article brought back many memories of not only CO and PA, but the others as well. I'm looking forward to reading Part 2.
mwf117
Getting nostalgic here...
MikePetro
Mike Petro 2
One of my most memorable trips was from Cleveland to Abaco Bahamas. My father-in law made the flight arrangements and my wife and I took a regular commercial flight from Newark to West Palm Beach FL then a small commuter to Abaco. The stop in Newark was surreal. No terminal just a big hangar-like building with a huge mass of humanity trying to figure out what to do and where to go. The Florida to Abaco leg was interesting as well. Sitting in the two engine prop plane (with a number of instruments labeled "inoperable") waiting for the flight crew when a guy pops in thru the cockpit window and says "here's your safety briefing: If anything goes wrong, follow me because I'll be the first one out". We landed at Marsh Harbour International Airport, where there were several wrecks in the water on the approach and one on the side of the runway and de-planed at a terminal which was about the size of a 2-car garage. What a trip!
srichardson2011
wow Thankyou for the Memories these wonderful Aircraft built the future for world Travel. Boeing 737 AND DC9's here in Australia were used as Interstate carriers with great safety records TAA Ansett were the carriers as Qantas the Flag bearer for International Flying Kangaroo still achieving long distance Records .
aurodoc
aurodoc 2
Before Hughes AirWest there was Bonanza airlines. I would fly on their Fairchild F 27 s from Phoenix to the LA area when as a kid we went to Disneyland. I remember the noise when sitting in the row next to the turbo props.
fredbrillo111
Fred B Rillo 2
No mention of Air Florida out of Miami? Greatest airline family ever! We really were a family!
skylab72
skylab72 1
look again there is a B737-200 N54AF Air Florida livery
Kairho
...along with a whole paragraph. (in the subject article)
fredbrillo111
Fred B Rillo 1
Look where?
ImperialEagle
ImperialEagle 1
Hey,what a deal! You could fly a cool old 707 TPA-MIA-TPA for practically nothing.
Flew many L-188 trips. I thought they were the perfect aircraft for the Florida of that era. AND they did a great job of handling the ferocious thunderstorms!
Last trips I made were on the old DC-9's.
SIERRA09
Ed Crist 2
Article brought back some memories. Back in the mid-eighties I worked for Eastern in SLC, and my daughter worked as a flight attendant for Continental. Later in a different career and in Alaska, I flew many times on Mark Air and Wien.

ToddBaldwin3
ToddBaldwin3 2
I remember Trans International, and that long, interminable flight from Travis AFB to Clark AB, via Hawaii and Guam. Three years later the return trip was a Flying Tigers charter, via Guam and Hawaii. Those were single aisle trans-oceanic flights with no IFE, other than what we brought with us.
bettiem
bettiem 2
Oh the memories! Very well presented; I've bookmarked that website. Looking forward to Part two.
Crash501
Les Ede 2
Lets not forget the heroes of the Aleutian Chain (Adak)Reeves Aleutian airlines. Brought our mail in some of the worst weather imaginable. Then someone missed Mohawk Airlines that was swallowed up by U.S. Air...
Kairho
And, of course, Pan Am is now a railroad in New England.
denverfireman
Fond memories of Vanguard. Great service, great fares as I recall.

Our first flight ever was on a Continental DC-10. Was our Crew gave us a free drink, and then as we left a bottle of company branded champagne and two wine glasses with the company logo. We still have the glasses.

Now our son flies DC-10/MD-11 for FedEx. Hopefully not the same airframe we were on ** years ago.
chris13
Chris Bryant 2
Thanks for the post, Patrick!
Knew almost all of these airlines, flew on several.
Fond memories indeed.
Jaime1949
Thank you Patrick, brings back memories especially Pan Am, flew them a lot from the us to the Philippines a lot, those were airlines sorry to see them go. thank you again Western airlines had a saying The only way to fly and there was a bird on the wing
dcmarotta
Dan Marotta 2
Memories... Hired by Braniff in 1979, furloughed in 1981. Terminated in 1988 when I declined recall. The Flying Colors were quite a treat; best food in the industry (in First Class)!
ImperialEagle
ImperialEagle 1
And the snappy Halston paint scheme was hot! My favorite was was the Calder DC-8.
Lib4ever
I vividly recall flying as a young child on Southern Airways DC-3s, including an occasion when there were 13 pax on board and seven threw up. None of them in the sick sacks. Quite a flight.
ImperialEagle
ImperialEagle 1
Yeah, the -3 could be quite a tail-wager in rough air. I liked the first two rows of seats forward. Any seats aft of that were risky.
Spring and fall the weather fronts moving across the Deep South could really shake things up.
In my minds eye I can still envision the row of Southern's -3's and Martin's at ATL.
Kyhawk
Kyhawk 2
No mention of Air-1. They hubed out of STL in the 80’s. All first class seating and service on updated 727’s
msaporito1965
Great article - and a lot of great memories...
scott8733
scott8733 3
I'm still honked off about Continental being absorbed by UAL. KCLE went from being one of the best, dependable hubs anywhere to connections becoming a way of life.
jetserf
jetserf 3
The old United was actually absorbed by Continental. Continental Airlines changed its name to United Airlines. To this effect right after the merger the PAs always said “Welcome to the new United Airlines”

This is from the 8K filing

On March 31, 2013, United merged with and into Continental, with Continental continuing as the surviving corporation of the Merger and as a wholly-owned subsidiary of UAL. Upon the closing of the Merger on March 31, 2013, Continental’s name was changed to “United Airlines, Inc.” (the “Survivor”).

https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/100517/000119312513140583/d514659d8k.htm

The combined and renamed company retained the Continental Air Operating Certificate and the United maintenance certificate.
clrice
Charles Rice 3
One of the very best tag lines in all of advertising was Eastern's: "Eastern. The Wings of Man."
ImperialEagle
ImperialEagle 1
And those commercials on the television were great.
My favorite was a DC8-63 banking into the sun! Awesome!
bettiem
bettiem 0
. . . a follow-up, - Did you understand why the Star Trek Next Generation TV series intro was changed from "where no man has gone before" to "where no-one has gone before"?
bettiem
bettiem -9
"best"??? Seriously?! You actually praise that? Surely you're joking! Nobody, Taliban and ilk excepted, still lives or thinks in that ludicrous male-dominant way.
clrice
Charles Rice 4
Good grief. I suppose you'd also ditch Alexander Pope's "The proper study of mankind is man."
bettiem
bettiem 0
He died in the 18th century! He reflected his time in his language; his content is of his age for which we make allowances.
kenmyres
Ken Myres 3
Sarcasm, perhaps?
SteveCutchen
Steve Cutchen 2
Eastern. The wings of human persons of multible races, genders, and sexual orientation."

Catchy!
mutrock
Mark Kortum 0
You left off religion!
bettiem
bettiem -1
It was Charles Rice's calling it "best . . in all of advertising" that shocked me because it indicated praise for its outdated attitude.Today obviously no slogan would state "Wings of Man". It would be so ridiculously unacceptable, not "best", it would rightly be the end of who approved of it.
ImperialEagle
ImperialEagle 1
Piedmont Airlines was another staple at ATL. Their gates located directly below one of the best airport observation decks ever. You were close enough that you better pay attention to their aircraft leaving the gates! Too close to the fence and you could get a face full of fast moving dirt,debris and kerosene fumes.
many times, when arriving at the curb out in front of the terminal, you were treated by the sound of screaming Rolls-Royce Dart propeller-turbine engines. (Of course, they could also belong to one of United's Viscounts.)
A sure signal that an F-27 and later FH-227 or YS-11 was moving. They also had Martin 404's. One thing for sure is PI stayed busy at ATL. None of their aircraft stayed for long. The other thing I recall was how nice the Piedmont employees were. The were certainly efficient as well. It wasn't unusual to see six aircraft using two gates!

I won't forget the first time I saw a PI 727-100. Could hardly believe it. PI was getting competive with the big guys!
Then came the 737's. Like all the other carriers of the day those early JT-8D's put out some soot! I got used to the tails of the 727's being blackened or the fuselage aft of the wings on the 737's.
Another thing I recall is how strange the old livery looked on those new jets. When the new livery came out it looked really sharp. Especially on the 767's.

Over the years I only flew on PI three trips.An FH-227 from ATL to DCA that must have made five stops and provided a very scenic tour of North Carolina and Virginia through those large oval Windows. And then in the early 1980's a 737 from ATL to CLT x to a 727-200 CLT to TPA. I remember the 737 stopped in Tri-Cities along the way, and the 727 was full out of CLT. The surprise was a very good dinner that I thought rivaled any of the big guys of that era.

It was quite a shock when Piedmont got swallowed up by US Air.
Slowly the old Piedmont birds were repainted and the name finally disappeared,altogether.
Just like the disappearance of EA a few years later, ATL never seemed quite the same again without them.
navalkishoresrivastava
With two major airlines closed or not performing to capacity (Jet Airways & Air India) Remainder pilots in the other existing three airlines in India (Indigo/Go Air/Spice Jet) are having tough time meeting the requisite effort of carrying the enhanced pax load & are always fatigued to say the least. Flight safety is bound to suffer in such a scenario what with the Indian Government for ever busy in fighting the unscrupulous opposition & unable to regulate Civil Aviation.
Kairho
...and here I am holding a seat on a TruJet flight next month!
jbsimms
James Simms 1
Flew to my first Army assignment in Korea on an Eastern jet (probably a DC-9) from BHM to STL connecting in ATL, then Northwest Orient 747 military charter from STL to Osan AFB via Yokota AFB. Back to the States on another Northwest 747 from Seoul to SeaTac. Flew back from Desert Shield/Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia via Frankfurt to Philadelphia on a still painted Flying Tigers 747 w/a small FedEx sticker on the side.
julianjim
jim garrity 1
Don't forget, small but important,"L.A. Airways"! You could go direct from LAX to Disneyland on their S-76, helicopter!! They also flew S-55's,Twin Otters.
ImperialEagle
ImperialEagle 1
Having grown up in Atlanta, I have many fond memories of Eastern Air Lines. EA was Atlanta's FIRST airline and they really connected Atlanta and the Deep South with the midwest and northeast.
When I was a child in the 1950's they were by far the largest carrier at ATL. They also had a vast array of piston-powered aircraft to observe and fly on.
This eventually caused them a lot of trouble at the dawn of the Jet-age.
Due to poor planning by the head-honcho Eddie Rickenbacker, they failed to grasp the impact (along with Howard Hughes at TWA) that the jets would have on the flying public.
When other carriers were ordering jets in the mid-fifties, Rickenbacker ordered fleets of piston powered DC-7's and propeller-turbine Lockheed L-188's.
Then, when he finally ordered jets he made the monumental mistake of passing up his original fleet of (underpowered JT-3 engined) DC-8's preferring to wait until the series 20's came out with more powerful JT-4's. Delta, who was an old-time Douglas customer and a major EA competitor snatched them up and beat EA into service by a significant margin of time.

So by the late 1950's EA was still taking delivery of propeller-driven aircraft that became obsolete the moment the jets arrived. In the winter of 1960 National, who was a major competitor on the Northeast to Florida routes, leased 707's from PA and all EA got in the first winter of jets was the left-overs.
Also, the L-188's had some very serious design and teething issues to overcome and EA, who had the largest US fleet of them suffered greatly until the fleet had been modified by 1961.

In the early sixties after a long-overdue upper management change, EA really started to come on strong. They had ordered a small fleet of medium range 720's by then and became a launch customer for the highly successful 727 jets. They retired the old piston-powered aircraft and transferred some to the popular Air-Shuttle up in the northeast-corridor. New DC-8's and Dc-9s were ordered.
During "Operation Bootstrap" they really did get quite competitive. New levels of inflight service, new aircraft with new livery. Even the experience on the ground was vastly improved.
They had always been a large presence at ATL but, it took strong competition from Delta Air Lines to finally make ATL a major hub. DL taught them to "bank" their aircraft more efficiently.

Meantime, route expansion did not come easily. During the days of Government Regulation it was very hard for Eastern to expand. Even their name sounded "regional.
Meantime some major competitors grew by leaps and bounds. The last of the piston planes sold and the L-188's took over the shuttle along with DC-9's.
Orders were places for the first of the wide-bodied jets. Some 747's were leased and a whole new fleet of L-1011's was ordered. Them EA shocked the nation by make a great deal with Airbus to use their new wide-bodied twin A-300's.

When the 1980's and de-regulation dawned EA had a lot on it's plate. De-regulation really caused the long established carriers like EA to re-think their business models. Easier said then done. Braniff was one of the first major casualties. By the mid-1980's it was clear that any of the survivors were going to have to get their costs way down. Along with that came the issues with the Labor Unions.
Then there was the issue of "Corporate Raiding".
Waiting like a spider for a fly, the Corporate Raiders snatched up vulnerable established airlines either large or small.
EA fell victim to Frank Lorenzo along with Continental, Texas Air, and some other small fry.

By the time the dust settled, EA just could not hang on any longer. Torn apart by Lorenzo and the battle with the labor unions the airline finally shut down the winter of 1991.
It was a real shock. I saw it coming but like so many ATL people we were in denial.
The rows of idle EA aircraft at ATL alone were a sight to see. So many good people out of jobs as well.

So my memories of EA are very fond ones. I am glad to have known so many good EA folks from the ticket counters to the cockpit crews.The ATL maintenance base the ops office, ramp tower crew and all the good maintenance folks.

ATL has never seemed the same to me since.
dlfehmel
Doug Fehmel 1
Yes, obviously I flew into Charlotte, NC.
amentor
a mentor 1
so nice to see the affection for early commercial aviation and personal recollections.
dlfehmel
Doug Fehmel 1
I flew on most of the former airlines, especially those that were on the East Coast. I did recently fly on a PSA retro painted American Airlines jet from Norfolk, VA to Charlotte, VA.
DonaldSchoengold
Eastern Airlines - one of the many companies that Donald Trump bought, destroyed and pushed into bankruptcy.
Propwash122
Peter Fuller 1
Not exactly. Trump only bought the Eastern Air Shuttle operation (Boston-New York-Washington), branded it Trump Shuttle, and in a financial sense proceeded to fly it into the ground. USAir then acquired the pieces; through a series of mergers and renamings it continues as an American Airlines service.
sgbelverta
sharon bias -2
What finally killed off Pan Am was the Lockerbie bombing. TWA started a slow death with the crash of flight 800. Even though the accidents weren't the fault of the airline, people just lost confidence.
30west
30west 9
Actually, TWA entered a slow death spiral when Carl Ichan got involved in the 80's. It was on the rebound after the employees to over the airline in the 90's and then flight 800 went down which doomed its fledgling recovery.
ImperialEagle
ImperialEagle 1
I would suggest PA's "slow death" really started with the 747's. They were just too big and did not fit most of their routes and the engines were very unreliable for a long time after delivery. That gave them a a reputation of poor reliability. It did not help that they over-ordered (the 100 series) as well. Then they ordered a specialized long-range (SP) version. When they figured out the tri-motored wide-bodies were sized better they could not afford (to finance) anything but the L-1011-500's which in the end had a higher ops cost than the DC-10-30's. They were also hampered with the restrictions of flying within the United States until they made the monumental mistake (on the eve of Deregulation) of purchasing National Airlines. National was NOT a sick airline financially or any other way. And because of that PA paid waaaaay too much money for domestic routes that they could have bid for anyway (after deregulation), and a fleet of aircraft, engines and parts that were not at all compatible. And they ended up with their 727 and DC-10 fleet as well.
If they had had any financing available, this would have been to time to talk to Airbus about trading in some old airplanes for new A-300's.

National had plenty of experience running a very good airline but the old PA folks were determined to come in and tell the old NA folks how to run things. This created a lot of bad-blood amongst the employees and that spilled over onto the flying public at a time when there were more and more choices and cheap alternatives.

Finally the sale of the Pacific Division in the mid-eighties really sealed their fate.
Yes, the Lockerbie disaster was a disaster in MANY ways. But, PA was already on life-support.
Ironically, in the end they did take delivery of some new Airbus aircraft that could have made a difference if they had been ordered early enough, or, maybe not. We will never know.
ImperialEagle
ImperialEagle 1
After all of that I forgot to mention that my first 747 trip was on the PA/DL interchange between IAD and ATL.
That was a great flight!

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