February 22, 2013

The big national airlines (called legacy airlines) were world leaders in innovation and service for decades. When Congress deregulated the industry in 1978, most airline leaders simply didn’t have any experience in running a deregulated business in a highly competitive world. As I pointed out in my book, it was a great time for a young marketing executive at Western Airlines because management was so hungry for new ideas, they would try almost anything. I can’t think of another time when an idea like a frequent flyer program (1980) would have been approved.

Since I left the industry when Western merged with Delta, the business language defining the legendary names in the airline world have been bankruptcies, mergers, and failures. Now, the finally one, American, is merging with US Airways. The American-US Airways combination should result in a healthy airlines. But the legacy of quality customer service, employees enjoying their jobs and wanting to do their best, and airlines dedicated to caring for their customers has gone forever. I for one will miss this world. I guess I’ll just have to watch “Catch Me If You Can” another time.

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