Blame (or credit) this post on Bill Murray and Scrooged. I was looking for some photos that I might use for a Holiday issue of Flashback Fridays, and I thought of his modern version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Most traditional versions of that work are too scary to parody, especially with their versions of the Ghost of Christmas Future. Well, the Mr. Magoo version isn’t very scary, but it is ridiculous. (It does have an aviation tie-in though. Jim Backus who did Mr. Magoo’s voice also did the voice of Wally Bird, Western Airlines' advertising icon, who proclaimed the carrier to be “The only way to fly,” while sipping champagne and resting against the vertical stabilizer of an aircraft in flight.)
So, Mr. Murray and the cast of Scrooged are my inspiration, and my “Ghosts” are Boeing 737s. Murray’s character, Frank Cross, meets the Ghost of Christmas Past in the form of a New York City cabbie, and one of their destinations is the year 1971. Unlike Cross's finding, 1971 was a very good year at Southwest Airlines. For all of you who have been paying attention this year, you know that 1971 was when Southwest began. The photo above isn’t from that year, but instead, it comes ten years later in 1981. The aircraft is a 737-200 we leased from Trans European Airways, and Larry Worley and Jimmy Moore in our Maintenance Department created a Rudolph design for the nose radome. We used this airplane, nicknamed "Rudolph One," to fly Santa around our system and raise money for the Salvation Army by selling calendars.
My Ghost of Christmas Present doesn’t have Carol Kane slugging everyone, nor will it have a sad story. Quite simply, the Holidays are about families joining together, and we did that in a big way with the great folks at AirTran. . Southwest joining with AirTran is our version of Frank (finally) getting back together with Claire (Karen Allen). The big difference is that we didn't need scary ghosts to motivate us.
And finally, our Ghost of Christmas Future isn’t a giant monster with a television for a face. Our future Ghost visited us last week, and unlike the one in Dickens or Scrooged, he brings us news that is very, very good. In the future, our new 737 MAXs will be taking our Customers high over the river and above the woods to Grandma’s house. So there you have our version of A Christmas Carol, and we didn’t have to super glue tiny antlers on a mouse or hold a television studio hostage at gunpoint during a live performance. Scrooged ends with the cast signing the classic "Put a Little Love in Your Heart," and we hope that we can put of lot of LUV into your travel plans for the next year and beyond.
If you will indulge me, I'd like to add a personal note. Thanks to all of you for making this such a wonderful year for Flashback Fridays whether you read the posts through Nuts About Southwest, RSS syndication, or on our Employee blog, SWALife. Your support means the world to me. For my Fellow Employees, thanks for creating such a rich, inspirational, and interesting history, these are the stories you wrote (and continue to write) with your hard work, sweat, and care for our Customers and each other. I wish all of you the best this Holiday Season, and I can’t wait to share more of our history with you next year.