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Flashback Fridays: A Look Back at Southwest Airlines Collectibles

Explorer C

Whenever I tried to do chores as a kid, I’d always get distracted and find something to play with rather than do the chores. Honestly, I could almost be a candidate for Hoarders. I do clean, I’m amazingly organized when it comes to work, and I don’t have any farm animals living in my house. I still have way more “stuff” than I should, but I like stuff—it’s interesting to me. I don’t have as much junk as I used to, but I still love things most people consider junk.

I also love Southwest, so clearly I’m fascinated by all our old promotional materials. The storage room in Communications at Headquarters is filled with old promotional materials, and is a stuff-lover’s heaven. Thus, a Flashback Fridays filled with pictures of fun promo materials—and a little history behind them. Obviously I couldn’t do this without our historian, Brian Lusk, so I owe him a huge thank you for explaining the background of some of the things I unearthed!


I’ll start with my favorite—the inflatable planes.

The Nolan Ryan inflatable plane was created for the unveiling of the Nolan Ryan Express on January 7, 1999—a plane with an autographed decal. The planes were given out at the celebrations in Dallas, Houston and Austin.

The California plane was created sometime after the introduction of the California One on August 11, 1995. The planes are used as promotional materials at various events and are a crowd favorite.

The New Mexico One replica is a car antenna ornament that could be purchase through the Freedom Shop in headquarters.

The Pins

The pins are all really fun. Each has an interesting story—and quite possibly a more interesting (and often fitting of the time period) design. Starting from the top left and moving clockwise:

Shamu- These pins were worn by Employees to promote the Shamu plane, which was released May 23, 1988 to celebrate the partnership between Southwest and SeaWorld San Antonio. I actually got to ride on the Shamu plane as a kid—and I love SeaWorld San Antonio!

“Just Plane Smart”- This slogan from the early 90s resulted in our founder,  Herb Kelleher, arm wrestling with the CEO of Stevens Aviation in 1992 for rights to the slogan. The money raised during the arm wrestling match was donated to charity. Herb lost, but Stevens allowed Southwest to continue to use the logo because of the press and goodwill created from the arm wrestling match.

“Together we make it great”- This pin was created for Employees to commend the efforts they make to keep this great Company running.

“Just Say When”-The "Just Say When" campaign was created in 1985, and it publicized that Southwest was the most convenient point-to-point carrier in the nation.

“Southwest Flyers Have More Fun”-Summer of 1986- Just a reminder to Passengers about Southwest’s corporate key word: FUN!

“Fun Fares”- Introduced in 1986. Name for discounted advance purchase tickets. The pins were worn by Employees to promote the name of our discounted advance-purchase tickets.

“Umbrella”- Just a fun pin worn by Employees to bring a smile to Passengers’ faces.

“Save Love. Beat BI”- This pin was created when Braniff Airways created a fare war on flights between Houston Intercontinental and Dallas Love Field. Southwest then began giving away free bottles of liquor with the purchase of a ticket to win the war.

“Triple Crown”-These were created in 1993, the first year that Southwest won the Triple Crown for having the highest Customer Satisfaction rating, the best ontime performance, and the fewest mishandled bags. 

Wright is Wrong

Cow Bell- The bell was given to all employees for the introduction of the “Wright is Wrong” campaign to use at the first rally to overturn the Wright Amendment. The bells were repurposed when Colleen Barrett retired as President because of her family tradition of ringing a bell when there is good news to share.

Bracelet- Introduced for the rolling out of the web site,, a site that combated the Wright Amendment. The bracelets were given to Employees and supporters of our efforts to repeal the amendment.

Random Items

Ramen cup- Click ’n Save was introduced on August 11, 1998. The cups were most likely used as promotional items for travel agents, fliers and events. This one just entertains me because ramen noodles are a college kid staple and affordable—just like our fares!

This bunny sticker has a special and personal story. My sister found a few of them and sent me a picture of them. They’re from sometime in the 90s, and we think they’re from our aunt who is a Flight Attendant for Southwest. The stickers made me think of the idea to write a blog post, but the supply room pushed me over the edge. So much stuff! I couldn’t resist playing with it.

The wings are also a personal favorite. I remember getting a set when I was younger and flew Southwest. I’m pretty sure I thought they were the coolest thing ever. I have a set on my desk at Headquarters, so clearly I still think they’re pretty cool. And, clearly, I’m still a collector of stuff!