Let’s face it; air freight isn’t the flashiest of topics when it comes to commercial aviation. Most people think of the airplanes, airports, Pilots and Flight Attendants. These “more glamorous” aspects also gather the most photos, but freight contributes its fare share to an airline’s bottomline. I worked in Detroit Air Freight for a short time at my previous carrier, and one of the guys I worked with used to joke that he had photos of shipping boxes on his walls at home. Fortunately, we have some early Cargo photos from Southwest’s first few years. I am guessing these photos are from the 1970s, judging by the hair, logos, uniforms, and backdrops, but I’m not sure where they were shot, or if it was the same location for all three. Our Employees may can provide some details.
This might be the oldest photo. Our original logo is on the wall beyond the Cargo Agent. There’s no way to know if the hard-hat Customer is dropping off or picking up the three boxes on the counter. From personal experience, the boxes probably contain metal parts, maybe fasteners, since each box has metal banding for shipping. He could be shipping them from the factory, or he might be receiving them off an inbound flight to take directly to a work site; either way, it illustrates how urgent the world of Cargo is.
The next photo appears to be a different cargo facility, (unless the lettering in the top photo is behind the photographer. Small articles are in the shelves behind the “lab-coated” Agent—are they arranged for pickup or are they arranged for outbound flights? Through the window behind the Agent, we see fencing, which probably is where large shipments were held for pickup. The Customer’s outbound package is on the scale, and it looks like he is filling out the airbill, while the woman patiently awaits her turn.
Our final photo looks like it might have been shot in a locker room with all the chain-link fencing. (Is this the fencing/inbound shipment area seen through the window in the second photo?) The “Hostess of the Month” poster featuring Flight Attendant CJ Bostic to the left of the Cargo Agent appears to be an attempt to bring some “style” into this room of boxes and manifests. Then take a look to the right of the Agent. When is the last time you saw a rotary dial phone? Even more, when is the last time you saw a business using a rotary phone? The piece of paper on the bulletin board nearest the Agent is a memo drawn up on stationery using our original logo, the same logo on the back of the Agent’s jump suit. The Consignee’s package appears to be on the desk at the far right of the photo. Take notice that, in all three of these photos, no computer can be seen anywhere in sight.