Yet another airline prepares to pull into the hangar in the sky

With yesterday’s announcement of a planned merger between US Airways and American Airlines, one more airline I’ve flown will vanish from the skies. Well, not its planes or people, but its name, livery and two-character code, and hopefully its call sign too: It would be tasteless to ditch AA’s “AMERICAN” for US’s America West-derived “CACTUS.”

Pan Am boarding passThe list of defunct U.S. and foreign airlines–excluding regional carriers and those from childhood that I don’t remember–that have transported me from one place to another is longer than I’d thought. I’m not sure if that demonstrates the crummy economics of the airline business or merely my own advancing age.

  • Aloha: We flew them to and from Maui for a friend’s wedding several years ago. Maui is an excellent place to go to a friend’s wedding.
  • America West: My chosen conveyance to and from CES for a year or two. I don’t miss their hideous livery at all.
  • ATA: My wife and I took this discount carrier to Chicago and San Francisco a couple of times.
  • Braniff International: I was on them a few years with my parents in the ’70s or ’80s. Their colorful paint jobs are still missed.
  • China Southwest: Flew me from Chengdu to Lhasa, Tibet and back on a memorable, two-and-a-half-week-long vacation in 1998.
  • Continental: The first airline I reached elite frequent-flyer status on; some of those miles went towards upgrading our honeymoon flights (they took great care of us), and some are still in my United account.
  • Eastern: Flew them up and down the East Coast a few times growing up.
  • National: This short-lived airline got me from San Francisco to Las Vegas–horribly late–for one Macworld-plus-CES trip.
  • Northwest: They got me to Tokyo and Hong Kong on that 1998 but couldn’t get me home, courtesy of a strike that resulted in my getting rebooked on United a day later. Did I complain about having to spend an extra day in Hong Kong? No.
  • Pan Am: The one I miss most of all, as do all self-respecting aviation dorks.
  • PeoplExpress: Not “People’s Express,” damnit. I learned years later that their dense, single-class configurations had earned them the nickname “PeopleCompress.”
  • TWA: I think this was the first airfare the Post paid on my behalf, courtesy of the paper sending me to cover the first E3 video-game trade show in L.A. in 1995.

If you have anything you’d like to say about the departed, the comments are all yours.

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7 thoughts on “Yet another airline prepares to pull into the hangar in the sky

  1. Pan Am: Anyone who was fortunate enough to fly Pan Am in its heyday knows what a treat it was. I recall flying on one of the first L-1011 aircraft acquired by PanAm. I didn’t want to leave the plane. Years later that aircraft ended its time in service under Delta livery.

    TWA: My first TWA flight was from Baltimore (Friendship Airport — remember that name?) to San Francisco on a Boeing 707 in 1976. Lunch was served on china with silver utensils; champagne was poured in crystal flutes. (I was 18 and that was a big deal!) First class was truly incredible in those days.

    Eastern: At one time their tag line was “The Wings of Man.” When I lived in DC and had to be in NYC every other week for business reasons, the hourly service of Eastern Shuttle was my mainstay. And, they met their commitment to roll out another plane when one was full. What airline could do that today?

    New York Air: Competitor to the Eastern Shuttle. They served fresh snacks packed in a red bag, always with an apple included.

    Ozark Airlines: I flew it once from Little Rock to St. Louis. It was not a memorable experience.

    Republic Airlines: Memorable because they initiated a class of service called “Business First” (fare class B). It was first class in all ways but the fare code, and that allowed me to get my employer to reimburse me for it. It was acquired by Delta.

    I’ve spent a great deal of time on airplanes, it seems. No regrets, though.

  2. Never flew Independence Air out of Dulles? (Short-lived, smallish planes for smaller markets – so maybe not.) They tried to be fun and reach under-served markets. Still sad that their experiment failed.

    Pretty sure that my brother and I got to have have a tour of the flight deck when we flew Eastern back in the 70′s (before being seated in the smoking section with our parents). Ah, memories!

  3. I remember using Western Airlines with my parents when I was growing up to fly to the Lower 48. Think I got a pair of wings from a flight attendant once, and somehow got my hands on a swizzle stick with their “W” logo. Fun ads, too (“The Only Way to Fly”.).

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