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Flashback Fridays: Finally, A Look at Southwest's Early Houston Operation

Aviator C

One of the things I enjoy best about creating Flashback Fridays is bringing photos to you that may have never seen the light of day.  Today’s batch comes from a big box of black and white negatives that were at our original advertising agency, the Bloom Agency.  Even more cool is that these are photos of our operation at Houston Hobby (HOU).  Previously, I have brought you some San Antonio photos, but our third city, Houston, has proved elusive until today.

But, before we get to the HOU photos, the photographer took some inflight photos on the flight to HOU.  Judging from the interior, this is probably N24SW because it has the newer “widebody” look interior.  The overhead bins in this version were only big enough for a coat or small briefcase, but it did open up the interior.  Judging from the uniforms, the date is probably somewhere in the mid-1970s.


Upon arrival in HOU, the photographer jumped off the aircraft to film the Passengers unloading.  The nose gear door confirms this is N24SW.  At this date, there were no jetbridges at HOU.  The aircraft just beyond N24SW is in the process of departing, and the internal air stairs are disappearing into the below deck compartment.


Kind of like railroad stations, our ticket counters back then had the name of the local city posted behind the counter.  To the left of the picture is one of our iconic National Cash Register ticket dispensers.  The sticker on the front of the machine reads:  “Have a good time on Southwest Airlines.”  Oh, and check out the “up to date” calculator the Passenger is carrying.  It probably cost more than today’s laptop computers, and it looks as though it only works with an electrical cord out of the socket.


Next, the photographer moves behind the ticket counter to give us a view of the lobby.  The ticketing lobby wouldn’t change significantly until the recent renovation at HOU was completed.


Finally, I think this is a great and evocative photograph of what it was like to board a flight outside using air stairs.  Passengers can look up into the cockpit and see the Pilots doing their last minute checks.  You could feel the breeze and listen to the sounds of the airport.  Judging by the presence of jackets, this isn’t Houston in mid-August.  Of course, boarding outside is miserable in rain or snow, but in our memory, it’s always sunny and 72 degrees.

Adventurer B
Wow! integrated airstairs! :o) The hairstyles are fun to look at too!
Explorer C
Those are awesome photos! I enjoy looking at the old lobby photo.
Explorer C
Sorry, these photos were taken in SAT. The tall blond agent is Nancy Grubbs. Brian, you are doing a great job and it is fun to look back. Thanks