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Flashback Fridays--A Historical Admiration for Southwest Airlines Flight Attendants

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Southwest Airlines Flight Attendants have always been great ambassadors of our Company and our Brand.  One of my other duties besides managing this blog is serving as our “archivist.”  In the latter roll, I have received a lot of recent requests for photos from the 1970s of our Flight Attendants.

These requests have come from publications as different as The Wall Street Journal and Glamour UK.  So, I thought I would share some of these photos from our archives with you.  The one below really is the iconic image of Southwest Airlines’ early days.  Back then, some airlines called their flight attendants, “stewardesses,” but we used the term “Hostess” for our Flight Attendants.  This picture contains a large group of our Flight Attendant staffing at the time.

About a year ago, I uncovered a group of negatives that had pictures of our one-year anniversary celebration, and I am including this black and white photo here because it defines our Fun-LUVing Attitude that our Original Employees created.

Our inflight magazine at the time, Southwest Airlines Magazine, had a monthly feature called “Hostess of the Month,” and our Flight Attendants were photographed in a variety of scenic spots all across Texas.  The layout included a Playboy-style interview (but not Playboy-style photos!) with similar questions.  We really have come a long way since then.

Our Flight Attendants were also used for promotions in the cities we served.  This photo would appear to date from the late 1970s, and it revolves around some kind of “Love” promotion with candy.

The last photo reflects our tenth anniversary in 1981, and the Flight Attendants have swapped skirts for hot pants.  However, take a look at those faces, and having fun hadn’t changed.  And it still hasn’t changed.

31 Comments
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A couple of years ago, I was flying SWA from New Orleans to Nashville, with a stop in Birmingham. As we took off from New Orleans, I began to feel really sick, and by the time got to Birmingham, I had to be taken off the plane in a wheelchair. Paramedics were called, and the SWA gate attendants looked after me, offered to get me water, call people for me. One gal was even off-duty and she sat with me until the plane took off for Nashville, since I was deemed well enough to fly home. I cannot say enough good about SWA employees. The best.
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Yo, Anna. Check out the post I just put on my Facebook page. Dedicated to you and to SW. Have a great day and weekend. Tick tock, clock.. Countdown to SD underway? Love ya, hon.
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I'M CURIOUS TO KNOW WHY ARE THERE NO BLACK WOMEN FLIGHT ATTENDANT WORKING FOR SOUTHWEST??? I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANY!
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Do they hire older mature women?
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Wow that's amazing to see how much times have changed through the years!
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Do I see a Star Trek theme here? Those poor gals, short-shorts and boots to melt your legs...who designed these wasn't thinking about comfort or function for sure.
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I am lovin' the go-go boots. Don't you think we should bring them back?!! Seriously, you guys and gals are the BEST in the industry. I fly several times a week and the flight attendants usually help the flight to be much more enjoyable when I'm not looking forward to leaving my family behind for yet another business trip. Thank you all.
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lovin the boots..........
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The word you are looking for in the 1st paragraph is "role"
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One of the main reasons I fly exclusively with Southwest is because the flight attendants are so kind and courteous. It makes flying a pleasure. Looking forward to my trip August 16 - 23 Pgh - Oakland - Pgh to visit my daughter who goes to Berkeley!
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Southwest has always been a fun-LUVing company.
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My husband and I toured HDQ when in Dallas for his 10th anniversary banquet. There are some uniforms I think some are happy to never wear again and some that people probably loved! All of them unique to SWA!
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bring back the gogo boots 🙂
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Love the flashbacks, I flew when the attendants wore the hot pants, uniforms may be different today but the service keeps me coming back.
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I worked for Southwest 27 years...I started when they only three jets. I've been retired since 2004 and I'm still crazy about southwest Airlines. Keep the wings in the air....love ya!
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Those were the days!!! AWESOME group of originals!!!!
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No Airline can out do Southwest and most of them need to take lessons from Southwest on how to do things right. FLY HIGH AND KEEP UP THE GREAT JOB. Mike
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I LUV it! This is funny, but not in a bad way! Ha, ha! Thanks for posting. :) Thought for the day: Why is it called a keyboard when it's not made out of keys? SWA LUV! 🙂
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I forgot-do any of the FAs in the pictures still work for the Company? SWA LUV! :) (I'm flying SWA again next Tues., the 3rd! Yea, yea!) 🙂
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I remember flying on Southwest back in the day when the flight attendants were in their hot pats and boots! They were so "modern", hip and cool --- pretty, too. I was glad when airlines finally dropped the "sexy" clothing motif for more practical clothing that didn't involve using women's physique to sell airline tickets. I was especially glad when I began to see more men as flight attendants. Now that I'm approaching "cougar" age, I was delighted to see a tall, dark, handsome male attendant on my last flight out of LAX. Mostly I'm just glad Southwest hires friendly, competent, professional people of varying ages, appearances, ethnicities who make flying safe, comfortable and pleasurable.
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Brian, Since you are the "archivist" for Southwest, you might be interested in the American Association for State and Local History (www.aaslh.org). We have a special affinity group for corporations that have archivists or historians that you might find helpful. Here is their webpage - http://www.aaslh.org/museums.htm. I have enjoyed your Flashback Friday posts.
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Just flew SWA this past weekend... So much fun everytime!!! Love them to pieces! Keep up the great work!!
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Why did Greenville (GSP) get selected for new service instead of Knoxville (TYS)? In the first quarter of 2010 (the latest quarter for which data is available), TYS generated more traffic than GSP to Austin, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Denver, Ft Lauderdale, Ft Myers, Houston, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, New York, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ontario, Orange County, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego, Seattle, Tampa, Washington, and West Palm Beach. In fact, TYS generated more than twice as much traffic than GSP to Albuquerque, Baltimore, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Norfolk, Orlando, Raleigh, and San Francisco. Obviously, Southwest will offer nonstop flights from GSP to Baltimore, Chicago, and Orlando; however, TYS would support those flights better. For example, of the 5,885 city pairs the Department of Transportation recorded data for, the city pair with the twenty-second most expensive average fare was between TYS and Washington. Everyday, 141 people flew between TYS and Washington, and they paid an average fare of $413.05 one-way. Everyday, 175 people flew between TYS and the Baltimore/Washington region, and they paid an average fare of $392.29 one-way. Meanwhile, only 96 people flew between GSP and the Baltimore/Washington region, and they paid an average fare of just $264.65 one-way. The Knoxville Airport plans to grant $500,000 in incentives to an airline that will provide low-cost service to BWI. Furthermore, during the same period, the average fare from Chicago to both TYS and GSP was statistically identical. The average fare from Chicago to GSP was $285.74, while the average fare between Chicago and TYS was $285.60. An average of 72 people flew daily between Chicago and GSP, while 108 people flew daily between Chicago in TYS. In other words, the average fare from Chicago to both GSP and TYS was the same, yet TYS generated 50% more traffic. While TYS benefitted from lower fares than GSP to Orlando, it generated 276 daily passengers to Orlando, while GSP generated only 84. Is it practical to compete between GSP and Orlando? Allegiant has already reduced fares between GSP and Orlando, and traffic has not been stimulated enough to support daily 737 service. Furthermore, few passengers connect in Orlando. Meanwhile, AirTran recently began daily nonstop flights between TYS and Orlando. In the first quarter, GSP generated ten or more passengers to 39 Southwest destinations. The combined total of all those passengers was just 1,521. Obviously, Southwest will stimulate traffic, but will it collect enough of that stimulated traffic to support eight 737 flights in/out of GSP, let alone enough to expand in the future? GSP's most popular destination is New York, but Continental and Delta offer nonstop flights to New York. GSP's next most popular destination is Dallas, but Southwest will collect none of that traffic unless it offers flights from GSP to Houston or St Louis to circumvent Wright Amendment restrictions. GSP's next most popular destination is Detroit, but Delta offers four daily nonstop flights from GSP to Detroit. Meanwhile, in the same period, TYS generated ten or more passengers to 45 Southwest destinations. The combined total of all those passengers was 2,085. Fares from TYS are not cheap. Between the first quarters of 2009 and 2010, average fares from TYS rose 20% to Los Angeles, 24% to New York and Philadelphia, 26% to Baltimore and Washington, 40% to Chicago, and 48% to Denver, not that they were affordable in the first quarter of 2009. Initiating service to TYS will not threaten Southwest's operation at Nashville. When Independence Air offered two daily nonstop flights from TYS to Orlando and Tampa, the average fares from TYS to Orlando and Tampa were slightly less expensive than the average fares from Nashville to Orlando and Tampa. However, traffic still rose between Nashville and Orlando and Tampa. Honestly, I hope you thrive in the Upstate. But in the end, Greenville and Knoxville are similar markets, and Greenville was selected while Knoxville was rejected. I couldn't help but wonder why.
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***I love flying Southwest*** because of their great customer service. Isn't it interesting that the girls still look sexy almost fully clothed, unlike the half dressed showing everything girls of today, goes to show that you don't need to show a lot of skin to look inviting, the girls of today can learn something form these photos.
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If southwest does not fly there...I do NOT travel there...................
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Man the 70's were great. I'm getting on a plane... stuck with a bunch of people I dont know...kids crying...overweight slobs... Thats what I want. Go-Go booted lovelies.
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I fly SWA at least once a month and can't say enough good things about the airline. They are a great business partner in my life, like my insurance agent or my dentist. Keep the great Rapid Rewards perks going and we'll be partners for a long time. I just HATE it when I have to fly the "other guys".
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Southwest has had some interesting outfits over the years. But one thing has not changed -- what's INSIDE the uniform -- whether it be young, not quite as young, female, male, or any variety of historical ethnicity. SW employees from the counter to the tarmac make flying fun. And while I have yet to meet a cranky flight atttendant on my favorite airline, I do miss the songs and jokes of days past! "It's kick, paddle, kick, paddle, and we'll be right behind you with our award winning peanuts... THANK YOU SOUTHWEST!
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I have had the honor of being apart of this wonderful company since 1979! It has been an adventure like no other! God bless all my fellow employees and all the people you LUV!
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I fly SWA every other week for business, and ALL the personnel I deal with are great! I, too, remember the short-short days & have to say, I'm glad to see people in clothes that HAVE to be more comfortable. We're contemplating a move, since it doesn't really matter where I live for work, but the #1 criteria is how close the location is to an airport that SWA flies into! Thank you for many years of happy flying, and keep up the good work!
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My family and I just flew round trip to San Francisco from Orange County and was impressed with the service of Southwest from check-in counter, in flight, to retreiving luggage. This was first experience with Southwest and will use again.