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Best of Flashback Fridays: Dallas Love Field Before Southwest Airlines

Adventurer C

In this week’s “Best of” Brian Lusk’s Flashback Fridays, we take a look back at not only a brief history of Love Field before Southwest Airlines, but also at some great photos from Brian’s own postcard collection.

Although Brian’s story on Love Field begins in in the 1940s, it’s fun to note that, nearly 100 years ago—in 1917—aviators from the U.S. Army first took off from the field they called Love. The romantic in me likes to imagine the countless numbers of travelers over the decades—and all their reasons for flying in and out of “Big D”—who probably never gave a second thought to being a part of the near-century of Love Field’s colorful history.

Southwest has been operating from Love Field since June 18, 1971, and in these weekly posts, we have looked at some of our early operations at our home airport.  I thought it might be fun to take a look back at Love before Southwest, by using some postcards in my collection.  So let’s start with the terminal that was located off of Lemmon Avenue during the 1940s and 1950s.  This terminal was badly overcrowded almost as soon as it opened, and until the present terminal was built, this building was expanded as far as could be done.

The photo above appears to date from the late 1940s before the extensions were added to each side of the building.  We have a Trans-Texas DC-3 and an American DC-6.  Once operations moved to the present building in 1958, this structure fell into disrepair.  On my first trip into Love in 1959, it was still standing but was riddled with broken windows.  Today, the only remnant of this terminal is the traffic circle with the facilities signature stylized wing made from sidewalks at the end of George Coker Circle.

Judging by the cars in the parking lot, this view (below) of the current terminal dates from the late 1950s probably not long after the building opened on January 20, 1958.  Although the terminal doesn’t yet feature a parking garage, it does have the current traffic flow, with an upper and lower level.


The main lobby hasn’t changed too much over the years.  In this view, all of the ticket counters were to the left of the lobby.  The airport coffee shop occupied the area where the Southwest Ticket Counter is now—off to the extreme right of the picture.  Several high-end retail shops occupied the area straight ahead in the photo, and the famous world map can be seen at the center right of the photo.  The stairs in the center of the post card have been removed, and the photographer is standing on the mezzanine, which is now enclosed for offices. 

The next two views were taken after August 18, 1965, when the upper deck parking structure was opened.  This was also the about the same time that Runway 13Right/31Left was opened to the left.   The parking lot is busier in the bottom postcard.

And finally, we see the terminal as it was not long before the other airlines moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Airport (Now DFW International) on January 13, 1974.  Those carriers used the terminal for 16 years almost to the day, while Southwest has been a part of this terminal for 39 years in June.  The postcard below shows the new Braniff ticketing and baggage claim to the right, and the original facade of the building is very evident.

With the construction under way to moderinize the terminal, the current configuration of the building will soon join these views as a piece of Dallas's and Southwest's history.

Explorer C
My father was a 13 year veteran of Braniff first as a manager and later as a senior executive. I can still remember being a small child around 1970/1971 and taking trips from Dallas to Chicago from Love Field. I remembering riding the sky tram, for instance, But because of Braniff's name on the side of the new(er) terminal section, I thought Braniff owned the airport at that age.
Explorer C
You forget to mention the time before SWA moved in... Love Field was a movie theater and roller skating rink. As a kid I remember skating around the lobby. In fact I recall being bummed out when that part closed and it went back to being an airport!
Explorer A
This is neat! I LUV reading about what Love Field was like & seeing the pictures. It's neat to see what it looked like then. I think it's a nice airport & I've been there several times. :) Thought for the day: Why are they called butterflies when butter doesn't fly & they're not made out of butter? Hmmm. :) SWA LUV!
Aviator C
Thanks to everyone for the comments. Tom your chronology is a bit off. Southwest started flying out of Love in 1971, the ice rink didn't open until the mid 70's. We never left the airport, we just moved our ticket counter location to the other side of the lobby. The LLove (it had two "Ls") ice rink filled the main lobby. When it went out of business, the lobby reopened to the traveling public.
Explorer C
we all know what MHT will look like in 5 years if something isn't done to stop this madness.....Way to screw over the FIVE gate operation in MHT, gate 11,12,14,15,15A. MHT has been there for this airline for the last 12 years. I LUV SWA, but watching them slowly shut the door on an airport that opened service greatly witthe them is unbearable, theyve been there through thick times and thin times. you guys were only caring for the thick not thin. also going to MHT weekendly i noticed a very steady decline in service there for SWA. Online fare at MHT and PVD and 60$ more than boston's fare's...... on july 14th 2010 flights from BOS-BWI-JAX cost 69$ on way. same dates out of MHT(50 miles northj) cost 139$ one way. If something isn't telling you there that SWA is slowly driving out of mht then idk what to say.
Explorer A
Could you please show Tulsa before SWA began service there? That would be great, too! Thanks! Fact for the day: Appetite is the integrated response to the sight, smell, thought, or taste of food that initiates or delays eating. SWA LUV! 🙂
Explorer C
I want to hear and see more about the skating rink!!! Thats sounds awesome!
Explorer C
Such a pictures! Can`t find right word for them... Full of color, memory, nostalgic. It is so strange for me that today photographers still try to recreate such a vision, try to resume in their photography such a view of that, 50`s... Just beautiful
Explorer C
I love flying southwest! They have a really great staff and the flights are very comfortable. My last trip was to Las Vegas for a volunteering abroad position and it was a great time. I really appreciate everything.
Explorer C
Yesterday I was searching for similar books to Paypal Wars, which I just read and really recommend and one of the suggestions was The Southwest Airlines Way by Jody Hoffer Gittell. Can you recommend it? Englisch Deutsch
Explorer C
Love Field? In the movie love field is that really michelle pfeiffer's hair. .
Explorer C
We need to know if Southwest Airlines use the word "Hub" instead of "Focus Cities". Need to settle a dispute at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport....IP continues to add Southwest as a hub to the airport's infobox. A discussion was started there....please add your thoughts to that page and here. Comments appreciated. Thanks! As listed at the top box of the article, there are focus cities only. A clear example that there is no hub operation, is that even for two cities with nonstop service, sometimes a flight (of the same number) will stop at one or two cities in between. For example, at focus city-Oakland yesterday, there was one that went from there to Seattle (regular nonstop) then to resumes Spokane, before getting to Salt Lake City--the latter being another nonstop city for OAK. Neither SEA or SLC are focus cities, as of now, further illustrating the airline's commitment of point-to-point service. Even to get to Las Vegas--the busiest SWA city in the country sometimes involves a one-stop in Reno, when leaving OAK.
Explorer C
Judging by the cars in the parking lot, this view (below) of the current terminal dates from the late 1950s probably not long after the building opened on January 20, 1958. Although the terminal doesn’t yet feature a parking garage, it does have the current traffic flow, with an upper and lower level. jogos online