Even in the late 1970s, color photos were somewhat of a rarity, especially in media usage. Until USA Today came along, most newspapers used black and white photos exclusively. That also held true for many magazines because the color printing process was so expensive. That’s why a big portion of the photos in our archives from our first ten or so years are in black and white. However, we do have some color slides from that period, and I found five of them that illustrate some of our ticket counters. Many thanks to Original Employee Dan Johnson in Dispatch for helping me identify the photos through his large network of friends.
Almost everyone that we asked told us that the photo above is Harlingen. Why? Because they said that Harlingen had an “ugly” ticket counter. I have to admit that this looks like a scene shot in a 1960s wood-paneled basement. The city logos were a feature of our ticket counters during the mid-70s. We began service to Harlingen on February 11, 1975, so it would be after that date.
For our next photo, we move a few hundred miles north to Houston Hobby. In my September 23, 2011 Flashback Fridays post, I have a black and white photo of our counter in the main terminal at Hobby. We moved from the old international arrival building into the main terminal on December 8, 1974, so the photo dates after that. Since it has the 1970s “modern” graphics that replaced the city logos, we can narrow it down to no earlier than 1978 or 1979. This design features three stylized hearts behind the ticket counter in the colors on our aircraft and three stylized airplanes on the wall beyond and at the top of the flight schedule board. It looks like the Braniff counter at the far right is shut down.
Southwest began service to Austin’s old Robert Mueller Airport on September 5, 1977, and above, we see the view from behind our ticket counter. Dan’s posse of sleuths was able to identify three of the four Austin Employees, with a tentative identification of the fourth. The earliest date that this photo could have been taken is 1979, since that is the year Delta (upper left of photo under the Continental sign) began serving Austin and no later than 1981 due to the uniforms. The side wall of the ticket counter reflects the same theme as the earlier Houston photo.
The photo of the Dallas Ticket Counter above was taken at about the same time as the Harlingen photo because it has the city logo design. Narrowing the date even more, the flight board only lists service to Houston, San Antonio, and Harlingen (Rio Grande Valley), so it would have been taken between February 11, 1975, and March 1, 1977, when we added Corpus Christi to our map. This counter was located in the Baggage Claim wing of Love Field, and the walkway to the escalator leading to the upper level and the West Concourse is just beyond the edge of the counter.
Finally, this might be the best of the batch. The location was unmarked, but through a lot of detective work, we have been able to identify this as our short-lived Beaumont/Port Arthur Station. We opened the city with five flights, all to Dallas, and the departure times on the flight board exactly match our first schedule to this Southeast Texas city. The date is probably close to the first flight date of May 1, 1979. Beaumont/Port Arthur closed a little more than a year later on September 15, 1980, but by that time, the schedule had been reduced to four flights. I’m guessing that Employees are behind the ticket counter, and these ladies would have been Ticket Agents (the title back then), rather than Flight Attendants because they aren’t wearing wings. Even though our Beaumont Station is somewhat of a historical footnote in our history, the big smiles of these Employees are an important part of our Culture.