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Flying Airlines That No Longer Exist

November 13th, 2012 · 2 Comments · Lists, Long Beach, Olympics, Travel

It’s vaguely disconcerting to think you might be boarding an airline that will be out of existence in the near future. Because if the company is in financial peril, doesn’t it begin cutting corners on maintenance?

This thought came to me in the shower the other day: How many airlines have I flown that no longer exist?


Let’s see how many I can remember.

I ran a list similar to this one two years ago — stadiums/arenas I covered games in which no longer exist.

I might have more defunct airlines than destroyed venues. Actually, it’s not close. Dead airlines win easily.

The list:

ATA. Flew it to Cancun, I want to say. Didn’t like the name. But it was cheap. Seemed as if it were prominent for about a year.

Braniff. Memorable at the time for being painted in bright colors. I liked this airline. A lot. Because it was often empty. Which should have told me it was not going to last. I remember a red-eye from Houston, I think it was, to Minneapolis. The airline also had leather seats. Its ad campaign tried to sell you on the Flying Colors.

Continental. I gave these guys lots of business. Domestically and internationally. Never liked this carrier but often got stuck on it, and it hung around until this year.

Eastern. A regional airline, as the name suggests. Was a serious player for a time.

Frontier.  I have a vague memory of being on this airline as it hopscotched across the northwest of the U.S. on some punishing itinerary. I flew it more than once.

Lauda Air or Swissair. I flew one or the other to Zurich. Maybe as a charter airline? Both are gone. Or practically. Lauda Air has one plane. Swissair was a major brand, and it’s gone poof.

National. I’m sure I flew this a time or two. To Phoenix, maybe?

Northwest. Flew this a lot. Disappeared as a name only a few years ago. Almost sure I took it to Seoul for the 1988 Olympics.

Pan Am. Another airline I miss. It had a long and illustrious history, and was known for overseas flights, first to Central and South America, and later to Asia. I may have taken it to London. Or I might have flown it only domestically. It had a long slide, but it is remembered fondly by many. That’s why a TV show based on Pan Am had a brief run in 2011. Much of which I watched.

PSA. This was what Southwest would later become, only more successful. A low-cost airline plying the Pacific Coast, but particularly the Los Angeles/Long Beach to San Francisco/Oakland corridor. I remember paying $25 to fly up to see my soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend in 1977. Long gone.

Republic. Not positive, but I think I flew this at least once. It was the country’s sixth-biggest carrier in 1980, when I was flying around a lot covering the Los Angeles Rams.

Western. Another airline with its destinations implied by the name. Flew this one several times.

TWA. Another airline I flew more than once, and another I miss. TWA (Trans World Airlines) had scads of history, and always had a coolness factor because it often flew to exotic overseas locations. In my case, I went to St. Louis.

To investigate this further, it may help to refer to the list of defunct U.S. airlines. Lots and lots of domestic airlines rose and collapsed, and most of them were paying the mininum to their ground crew.

And here is a link to defunct non-U.S. airlines. Broken out by continent. Scary long, too.

It struck me that a guy in his 60s or 70s, who had a career as an executive or some sort of high-level salesman who worked several diverse areas … could have flown dozens, 50 airlines no longer in existence. And each time, he would have gone into the air thinking/hoping he was trusting his life to a successful company.

At the end, then, this leaves me a little nostalgic, but perhaps more creeped out.


2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Chris Runnels // Nov 15, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    I remember the commercials for Western Airlines when I was a little kid in the 70’s. The bird flying south for the winter, lounging on the tail of the plane being served cocktails. The tagline: Western Airlines, the only way to fly.

  • 2 Doc // Jan 26, 2015 at 8:20 am

    Frontier still exists

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