Skip to main content

Southwest Airlines Community

Flashback Fridays--A Look at Southwest Airlines and TranStar

Aviator C

Not long after leaving Southwest Airlines, our first President, Lamar Muse, started a new airline called Muse Air.  Taking to the sky in 1982, Muse Air almost immediately ran into problems when the big air traffic controller strike limited the number of airline operations.  Nevertheless, Lamar’s effort was notable because it was the first US airline to go entirely non-smoking—long before federal regulations banned the vice. 

Muse Air was based in Houston and operated both DC-9-51s and MD-82s and a single MD-83.  Unlike Southwest, it offered assigned seating and a first class cabin.  From Houston, nonstop flights were flown to Dallas, California, and Florida.  Over the course of several years, Muse Air never was profitable, and on June 25, 1985, it was sold to Southwest Airlines for $40.5 million in cash and $20 million in stock to become a wholly owned subsidiary. 


The timetable above is the last one issued by Muse before the Southwest purchase.  Herb became Chairman of the Board for both companies, while retaining his CEO and President position at Southwest.

This timetable probably was the last one to wear the Muse Air name because, on February 13, 1986, the name is changed to TranStar.

It could be argued that TranStar refutes the claim that Southwest has never operated a non-Boeing aircraft.  No 737s from Southwest’s own fleet went to TranStar, and the airline retained the original Muse DC-9s and MD-80s.  Because TranStar was wholly owned by Southwest, Southwest “technically” operated the DC-9 family.  However, the two airlines were separate entities.  Besides the transition timetable above, a variety of promotional material was prepared for the change.


The timetable sized flyer offers a different version of name “morphing” than does the transitional timetable.

One graphic starts with a whisper and then screams the new name.

And, the biggest change was the adoption of a new livery that was very different than the original Muse livery.  Even with Southwest behind it, TranStar was never a going concern.  It ceased flying on August 9, 1987, and then went under the liquidation process.  In spite of having the resources of Southwest behind it, TranStar was never a going concern.  Yet its legacy lives on in the folks who came to Southwest from TranStar. 

Explorer C
Had an idea for flashback Friday... I remember flying Southwest in the early 1990's and the rear facing seats in the emergency rows. And I could've sworn I saw them again on a Southwest TV commercial within the last year. Have any pictures?
Explorer C
There's a great web site all about Muse Air and TranStar at
Explorer C
I was an airport agent ("CSR") for Muse Air/TranStar Airlines from August 1982 (in Tulsa) until it ceased operations 5 years later (in New Orleans). We were an extraordinarily dedicated and close-knit group of employees, and we worked very hard to make it work. Sadly it wasn't meant to be and we all went our separate ways and carried on with our lives. Many of us stay in contact today through a Facebook group and the memorial site that Toby mentions above, and I think I can speak for many of my friends and former colleagues when I say that those years with Muse Air/TranStar Airlines were some of the most cherished of our lives. Thank you for blogging about a very unique and special piece of airline history.