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Flashback Fridays--30 Years Ago in Albuquerque

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As you may have read, Southwest Airlines celebrated our 30th Anniversary of serving Albuquerque (ABQ) on April 6.  For this week’s edition of Flashback Fridays, I thought we could take a look back at the opening festivities from 30 years ago.  Anytime we open a new station, there is always a lot of celebrating, and as you will see, that tradition goes back at least three decades.  But before we look at Southwest’s first day in the Land of Enchantment, let’s take a look at an early shot of the “new” Albuquerque Terminal.  (Check out the TWA Convair 880s and the Continental Viscount)

New in this context is a relative term.  Above is a view from one of my postcards showing the terminal right after it opened in 1965.  The satellite gate building has yet to open, and today’s terminal only bears a resemblance to the building we see above.  An upper level concourse now fills the area where the yet-to-be-opened satellite and the old hangars are standing.  The main lobby now has two levels with baggage claim on the lower level.  For a video of the airport's history, with views of the old terminal, click here.

My history with the airport goes back to the previous terminal building, which opened in 1939.  This building still stands, visible from the current terminal, and it currently contains offices and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  That original terminal was also built in the Pueblo Style for which New Mexico, my home state, is famous.  As a child when I traveled through the old terminal, it was totally outgrown, but I remember how cool and inviting it was inside. 

In 1980, ABQ was the first Southwest destination outside of Texas heading west, and as you can see from in these photos from our Archives, our arrival there was a very big deal.  Above we see the large crowd on the ramp to welcome our first arrival.  Note that one of the airport hotels, the Airport Marina, wanted their presence to be known to arriving Customers. 

Inside the gate area, we see two of our Flight Attendants holding a cake decorated for the occasion.  Check out the giant party percolator in the background. 

Once the photo was taken and the cake cut, our Flight Attendants served drinks to Customers in the gate area.  We may have cleaned out the city's supply of cut flowers.

The local media was out in force, and Herb is interviewed by a local reporter (above).  It looks like the reporter is enjoying his “camera time.”

To kick off the outbound flight, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held under the tail of N24SW.  In the view above, we see reporters from at least four news organizations setting up for a shot of the ceremonies.

And here is Herb, along with local dignitaries, getting ready to cut the ribbon. 

With the festivities over, N24SW is ready to depart with the first outbound flight, and it looks as though it will “power out” from the gate without being pushed back.  Next week, we will flashback to the opening of our Burbank operation.

 

13 Comments
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Boy that plane looks beat up
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Wow N24SW looks beat up! lol
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Wow, that was one beat-up plane!
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I was married in 1957 in Albuquerque and my wedding party (5 of us) celebrated by having a midnight snack at the airport before we headed back to Santa Fe where we were living at the time.. So it holds a special place in my heart.
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I didn't notice the nose on N24SW when I was posting the photo. Hail can act just like a sandblaster and that appears to be what happened here. This can be a fairly common sight this time of year on jets of all sizes.
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Thanks for posting! I enjoy & LUV these; they're interesting! Please keep posting them! :) Thought for the day: Why are they called peanuts when they're not made out of peas? SWA LUV! 🙂
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SWA had always been a great friend of New Mexico.I am so glad to have been flying SWA for 25 years also and have luv it. Thanks to all the great employees and all the great flights!!
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"Next stop, Burbank"? Not really - first we will have to layover in PHX or LAS. :-( Southwest, please fly ABQ-BUR direct!!! My LUV will reach a new level if ya do.
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Great pics Brian. I especially enjoy being able to "time capsule" 1980. I was in college at the time. The clothing, the coffee percolator, the haircuts........ You ought to try to figure out who the two flight attendants were. Wouldn't it be cool if one or both still worked for the company! Have a great weekend Brian. My next SWA flight is a mere 14 days away; up at MKE from N. Illinois.
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I noticed the FA's were wearing slacks. When did they switch to that from the "go-go" boots shorts, etc? I feel like I should know that, but I don't. Fact for the day: Giraffes typically spend more than half their day eating. SWA LUV! 🙂
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Welcome back to the blog Leah. Actually the Flight Attendants are wearing hot pants in the photo above, it just doesn't show up as well in the black and white shots. I'm not sure when the hot pants were retired, but I am guessing not long after this. (Maybe someone will know for sure?) Brian
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Thanks, Brian, for another "blast from the past" in Southwest's history... One lesser known aspect of the start of ABQ operations (as well as our starting service to OKC and TUL) is that for the first time, Southwest took simultaneous delivery of *three* new 737-2H4 aircraft on 3/27/1980. The aircraft were: N62SW 2H4(A) 22060/638 N63SW 2H4(A) 22061/639 N64SW 2H4(A) 22062/640 Employees were given the opportunity to get to SEA on their own (on other airlines, since this was long before Southwest would have SEA service), and if they could, they could ride back to DAL. I was lucky enough to be one that made it up there, and the Boeing folks were the usual gracious hosts, and we also got tours of the plant at Renton where the 737s are assembled. When it was time to depart, two aircraft operated BFI-DAL (with everyone on one of the aircraft), and the third aircraft operated BFI-ABQ (so our new personnel at ABQ could get some practice handling the aircraft, before it later ferried ABQ-DAL). A couple of days later, we started out new ABQ, OKC, and TUL service. N62SW, N63SW, and N64SW have long since been retired, but many of us "remember when they were new..." 😉
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Hi, Blog Boy Brian! Thanks for the "welcome back" & response. Now I see the FAs wearing hot pants! :) Fact for the day: Budapest is actually 2 different cities!