Losing Eastern Airlines All Over Again


Dennis Sanders

Dennis Sanders is the Associate Pastor at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Minneapolis, MN.  You can follow Dennis through his blogs, The Clockwork Pastor and Big Tent Revue and on Twitter.  Feel free to contact him at dennis.sanders(at)gmail(dot)com.

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14 Responses

  1. Avatar Damon says:

    I wasn’t aware of this restart. Shame that it’s failed.

    Eastern was the first airline I ever flew first class on, something I’ve only done twice. I was 16 or 17 and was flown back with my mom to attend a celebration–it had something to do with an Eastern anniversary, or something associated with the first pilots of the airline. My mom’s father (my grandfather) used to fly with Pitcarin, which became Eastern, and he did so for decades. I still have the picture of all of us, and Frank Borman, who was CEO at the time, at the party.

    During my visits to Miami, where my grandfather had retired, we would often go to a airline memorabilia restaurant. I think it was called “The Spirit”. Think the dinner scene in Pulp Fiction with all the 50’s memorabilia, but it all being airline related–airline seats, etc.

    “It’s 5 o’clock Partner”, he’d call me Partner (I used to help him putter in the garage). “time for a martini”. I suppose that’s why I’m so rigid on how martinis should be made 🙂Report

  2. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    Honestly, I find it kind of odd to get all misty-eyed over an airline, much less over reviving the name of a defunct airline. What is that really worth? OK, some people who disagree with me about airline sentimentality will take a flight for old time’s sake. But that is pretty trivial: not a business model for the long term.Report

    • Avatar Maribou says:

      @richard-hershberger Brand loyalty is actually (even now with expedia, travelocity, etc.) still a big deal in the airline biz. Southwest’s focus on customer service is, business-wise, oriented at brand loyalty as the desired outcome. (I did a 30 page research-based analysis on them once, is why I am shifting examples.)

      People really do choose their airline (repeatedly, not just as a one-time thing) based on emotional attachment, and while you can muck that up in a vast number of ways, you can also build it in a number of ways. If you can have that advantage out of the gate, small as it may seem to you, it can be the necessary leverage to break into a tight market.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Like @richard-hershberger , I just don’t get it. Quite likely it’s because I spent too many years taking too many flights where my preference for carrier simply didn’t matter — either my employer had a deal with an airline, or the choice was limited by who serviced the destination, or who had non-stop flights. Those memories pretty much blur together, but it seems to me that all of the carriers did a good job sometimes, and a crappy job other times.

        Of course, I wasn’t ever fond of flying. One of the nice things about retirement is that I don’t have to go bouncing around the sky in a little aluminum tube any more, or sleep in lumpy hotel beds with miserable excuses for pillows, or try to find a place where I can get a reasonable soup, salad and glass of white wine at 9:00 when I’m already exhausted. Just for the record, I put California at the top of the list for finding that sort of meal at that time w/o hassles.Report

  3. Avatar Chris Walton says:

    @Richard Hershberger …If you can have that advantage out of the gate, small as it may seem to you, it can be the necessary leverage to break into a tight market.

    Southwest Airlines = non-assigned seats = faster boarding = advatage out of the gate?

    Pun intended?Report

  4. Avatar CJColucci says:

    Flying is a miracle, but the experience pretty uniformly sucks across airlines. I expect next to nothing, and if the plane leaves the ground roughly when it is supposed to and doesn’t hit the ground before it is supposed to, or noticeably faster than it is supposed to, and my baggage arrives on the same flight, I am, if not happy, content.Report

  5. Avatar Jason says:

    I just watched a PBS documentary about air travel on netflix called “City in the Sky.” It mostly focused on the biggest and busiest aspects: a lot of time was spent showing Airbus A380’s. It did mention how air travel was expected to grow by quite a bit. I wonder if this will include more new airlines or expansions of the current major airlines. Maybe there was room for Eastern.
    There does seem to be room for different business models–Iceland Air and Norwegian Air seem to be doing okay in the “affordable transatlantic flights” business. I’m excited about Norwegian’s non-stop Denver to Paris that’s supposed to come to DIA in the spring of 2018.Report

  6. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    As a California guy, I don’t have many associations with Eastern, other than their president being an astronaut. TWA is an iconic international airline, and PSA the nostalgic local one.Report

  7. Avatar Road Scholar says:

    Swift Air is a subsidiary of Swift Transportation, the biggest trucking company in the country. I don’t believe it has ever been much more than a vanity project for the people who founded the company, certainly not a core part of the business.

    So they can buy the service mark and operate as Eastern, but it will in no realistic way actually BE Eastern Airlines. Your love is gone.Report

  8. Avatar Sandy Scott says:

    Interestingly, I also took my first flight on EAL – NY to MIA – at the age of 5. Even more interesting, I spent a magnificent 25 years as a pilot for EAL. Their demise is no surprise to me. Buying the name does not a great airline make.Report

  9. Avatar Ed Roman says:

    Correction: Ed Wegel did not “restart” Eastern Airlines. Instead, he started a brand new airline, with new airplanes, new management, new employees, new routes and even a new concept, but he bought, and used the old Eastern name. I believe new starts Pan Am and National Airlines suffered the similar fates. I do feel sorry for those employees affected by the new Eastern’s demise. However, as a former employee of the old Eastern, I find it a non issue, and have little nostalgia for the new Eastern, but have many fond memories of the Eastern I worked for.Report