Taking a look back at some of the airlines’ slogans that no longer ring true



David WebbNot so long ago, airlines portrayed air travel as fun and adventuresome — a big party in the sky. To bolster that image, the airlines adopted appropriate slogans in the 1940s to attract new passengers.

And for several decades, it was fun. But that’s all changed.

Considering what air travel has become — unpredictable, frustrating and even dangerous — I thought it might be fun to recall some of those slogans from days gone by. Based on personal experience, these slogans are jokes at best. Unless you are sitting in first class, your trip will likely be uncomfortable and anything but fun.

Going in alphabetical order, the first that comes to mind would be American Airlines. A few of the corporation’s slogans over the years were: “We’re American Airlines, doing what we do best;” “Fly the American Way,” and “We know why you fly. We’re American Airlines.”

The truth is, from what I hear from travel professionals, that American Airlines has become infamous for mechanical problems and the flight delays. Too few planes in the air to accommodate passengers during peak travel times. If one breaks down, everybody suffers.

Many of the American Airlines employees appear on the verge of a nervous breakdown every time a new event occurs. A six-hour delay caused me to miss a cruise ship in San Diego, and I left a lot of stressed-out ticket agents in my wake that day. If that’s the best, I sure don’t want to see the worst.

The now-defunct Braniff Airlines had a great slogan: “When you’ve got it, flaunt it.” Actually, I always loved flying back and forth to New York on Braniff, but that was decades ago. I guess all that catering to the passengers helped put them out of business.
British Airways’ promotions promise, “We’ll take more care of you,” and that seemed to be the case when I flew to London and Paris. Free cocktails flowed generously, and the flights were comfortable.

Then there is Delta: “We love to fly, and it shows;” “Delta is ready when you are,” and “You’ll love the way we fly.” Wrong, again. I didn’t like it much at all.

Because the airline charges for checked baggage these days, there is never enough room for all the carry-on bags in the overhead bins. About halfway through boarding, the remaining passengers are ordered to check their bags. Confusion, disagreements and flight delays seem to be the norm.

On my way to Barcelona, I had to change planes in Atlanta, and I didn’t think we would ever take off, but I allowed an extra day to catch my cruise ship in the Mediterranean.

To make matters worse, a traveling companion flew to Spain in a first-class pod that reclined into a bed. She arrived fresh and cheerful while I was a wreck.

And there was the flight I boarded for a trip to Southeast Asia on the also now-defunct Northwest Airlines. Their mottos were “Now you’re flying smart,” and “Some people just know how to fly.”

After an unscheduled layover in Tokyo and stops in San Francisco and Detroit on the return before finally getting back to Dallas, because of employee strikes, I felt anything but smart. My bags arrived in Dallas on another plane two days before I did.

Finally, we have United Airlines, which made the news recently after flight attendants had a doctor thrown off a plane to make room for a United employee. The doctor got beat up in the process.
United’s slogan? “Fly the friendly skies.”

I had my own experience with United in Athens last summer. A ticket agent told me the flight was overbooked, and I didn’t have a seat. I asked how that could be possible when I bought the ticket six months earlier.

She wound up calling me “rude,” but she got me on the plane. In fact, she again told me I was rude when she handed me the boarding pass. But at least she didn’t beat me up, and she appeared perfectly capable and willing to do just that.

So unless you can afford to fly first class, don’t trust any of those slogans. They really don’t move their tail for you like Continental Airlines promised in the 1970s.

David Webb is a veteran journalist with more than three decades of experience, including a stint as a staff reporter for Dallas Voice. He now lives on Cedar Creek Lake and writes for publications nationwide.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 14, 2017.