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Southwest Airlines Community

Flashback Fridays: A Tale of Two Companies

Aviator C
We’re always looking for creative ways to celebrate our Anniversaries, and in the early years, those celebrations featured our Flight Attendants. Actually, back then, they were called “Hostesses.” The two pictures I have this month represent a difference of nine years. The black and white photo below was taken at the first birthday party in June 1972. Southwest had managed to survive a whole year, and while the future was still very shaky, it was time to party.

Our Hostesses put on a song and dance number, wearing their trademark hot pants and go-go boots.

Nine years later on our tenth birthday in June 1981, Southwest was a very different Company, and the birthday photo below reflects that. Featured in the photo are 11 of the original Flight Attendants hired in June 1971 who were still with us ten years later.  No hot pants in this photo, but we still see the hearts and “Love” theme that even today sustain us. 

While the attire of these original Employees reflects a new corporate maturity, there were also a lot of other changes. During the 70s, Southwest expanded as far as we could in Texas to ten cities from El Paso to Houston and Amarillo to Harlingen. Thanks to the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, Southwest was no longer bound by the borders of our home state. First, we expanded to New Orleans in early 1979, and then in 1980, we opened Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Albuquerque, on consecutive days in April.  A few months after this photo, we would expand further west to San Diego, Las Vegas, and Phoenix on January 1, 1982, then to Los Angeles on September 18, 1982. We also added Kansas City that same year.  In roughly the ten years since the first photo, we flew to almost as many cities outside of Texas (nine) as in (ten). 

I guess that every picture does tell a story, and I love looking at these early historical photos from two perspectives. One is the literal story they tell of our history, and the other perspective is what the photos represent about our growth and how we changed as a Company and how we changed air travel. These two photos with many of the same People are truly a tale of two Companies.