Category Archives: Piedmont Airlines (1st)

The battle of amenity kits; American Airlines introduces heritage airline amenity kits

American Airlines Heritage Amenity Kits

American Airlines (Dallas/Fort Worth) has unveiled its new 2015 version of its premium amenity kits for international flights. The airline issued this statement:

Starting this month, American Airlines will be upgrading the premium experience for its customers and paying tribute to the proud history of its employees around the world with all-new amenity kits for most international and transcontinental flights, featuring special, limited edition kits that honor nine airlines that laid the foundation for the new American. Every First Class and Business Class kit contains an improved collection of personal care products selected specifically for the modern traveler.

“We have more than 100,000 employees, each with their own unique story, and these retro amenity kits are a small tribute to the heritage of their careers and their legacy carriers,” said Fernand Fernandez, American’s vice president – Global Marketing. “Customers will also identify with the historic logos and colors of the companies that now form the fabric of the modern-day American Airlines. The all-natural, boutique toiletry products from red flower, a New York-based, eco-friendly beauty and lifestyle brand complete the experience.”

The new amenity kits represent the latest in $2 billion in investments as American continues “going for great” with fully lie-flat seats; international Wi-Fi; more in-flight entertainment options and power outlets; a new, modern design for Admirals Club lounges worldwide; and an upgraded assortment of complimentary healthy food, cocktails and more.

The heritage kits serve as a reminder of American’s beginnings and the many men and women who forged together to form the world’s largest airline. Each individual carrier brought with it thousands of employees and a proud history. The collectors’ items will revive the colors and logos of the following airlines, past and present:

American Airlines (historic logo)

PSA-Pacific Southwest Airlines

AirCal (Air California)

Reno Air

Allegheny Airlines

Trans World Airways (TWA)

America West Airlines

US Airways (USAir)

Piedmont Airlines

Customers can experience the retro-themed heritage amenity kits through January 2016 when they travel in international Business Class or transcontinental First Class. They are contained in a stylish, felt case inspired by designer bags, sized specifically to be re-used as a mini-tablet computer case. The legacy themes will debut in batches of three every four months.

American Airlines Heritage TWA Amenity Kit

Above: The TWA amenity kit.

While these kits play up American’s retro branding, the airline took a forward-looking approach to selecting the personal travel products contained inside. The heritage amenity kits in international Business Class contain fabric lining, a pair of socks and an eye mask styled with the colors of a specific airline, a toothbrush and toothpaste, Scope® mouthwash, covers for Bose® QuietComfort® Acoustic Noise Cancelling® headsets provided with each seat, earplugs, a pen, tissues and hand lotion, lip balm and wipes by red flower.

The heritage amenity kits in transcontinental First Class contain the fabric lining, socks and eye mask with airline branding, a toothbrush and toothpaste, earplugs, and the trio of red flower products.

International First Class customers will receive new, larger kits, containing a pair of plush socks and an eye mask, Scope® mouthwash as well as covers for Bose® QuietComfort® Acoustic Noise Cancelling® headsets, a toothbrush and toothpaste, earplugs, pen, tissues and the three red flower products in addition to red flower’s face lotion. Customers will also receive upgraded pajamas in a color-block pattern and non-skid, 100 percent cotton terry slippers.

In addition, for the first time, American is rolling out amenity kits in Business Class on its transcontinental service between New York and Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as Miami and Los Angeles. These kits contain a pair of socks and eye mask, a toothbrush and toothpaste, earplugs, and the trio of red flower products.

Photos: American Airlines.

AA Heritage timeline poster - FINAL - 24x36.pdf

Above: The American Airlines heritage family tree (American Airlines – photos supplied by AirlinersGallery.com):

American Airlines aircraft slide show (current livery):

AG Slide Shows

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Jay Selman’s Inside Look: US Airways operates the last Boeing 737 Classic revenue flight

Guest Editor Jay Selman

Guest Editor Jay Selman

An Inside Look: The End of a Classic Era

by Jay Selman

When I was hired by Piedmont Airlines (Winston-Salem) in 1981, the Boeing 737 reigned supreme. We were taking delivery of brand new Boeing 737-200s, and oh how I loved those birds. They were short and fat, and NOISY in an era when noise was still acceptable! In the early days of my airline career, I was on an airplane virtually every weekend. Those were the days when an airline could make money with a 50% load factor, and on those rare occasions when a flight did fill up, there was usually room in the cockpit for a company employee. I’d venture to say that 95% of my flights during the first 10 years of my career were in 737s.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-201 N736N (msn 19420) of Piedmont waits for its next assignment at Atlanta. The -200 is painted in the original 1974 livery.

By 1985, the 737-300 had joined the Piedmont fleet. Although it still had the 737 designation, it seemed to be a whole new animal. Those CFM-56 engines were massive compared to the JT-8Ds on the -200s, and the 737-300 promised significant increases in payload and range, as well as significant reductions in fuel burn. Oh yes, and they were QUIET. In fact, a common complaint among crewmembers flying the -300 was that they had to lower their voices so that passengers would not join in their conversations. The cockpits of Piedmont’s -300s still had the old “steam gauges” but they also had greatly improved avionics, and even a lovely feature called “Autoland”, which the company was never actually certified to use.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-301 N307P (msn 23259) of Piedmont wears the updated white top 1974 color scheme.

Piedmont was the launch customer for the Boeing 737-400, essentially a stretched -300, and in September, 1988, I had the good fortune to fly on the delivery flight of N406US, the first 737-400 in the world to be delivered by Boeing.

 

Copyright Photo: Nigel P. Chalcraft/AirlinersGallery.com. The first delivered -400, Boeing 737-401 N406US (msn 23876) taxies at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood in the bare metal 1988 livery.

At one time, Piedmont was able to claim the title of the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 737. No wonder I had a love affair with the Seven Three throughout my career in the airline industry.

In 1989, Piedmont and USAir merged and I was now working for USAir. The merger brought a large number of different aircraft types to my company, but I still loved the 737.

 

Copyright Photo: Christian Volpati Collection/AirlinersGallery.com. Suddenly the Piedmont name and brand were going way. USAir later gave way to US Airways as a brand.

Then in 1997, USAir CEO Steven Wolf shocked the aviation community by announcing an order for up to 400 narrow-body Airbus aircraft. Ultimately, this would reduce the composition of the company’s narrow-body fleet to one basic type (the A319, A320, and A321 are all the same basic airplane).

The handwriting was on the wall for the USAir (later US Airways) 737s…in fact, all of the narrow body aircraft operated by USAir. With respect to the 737s, the dwindling fleet of 737-200s was parked following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, while the last of the -300s was retired in 2013. Finally, on August 19, 2014, N435US operated the final flight of a US Airways 737, appropriately designated as flight US 737.

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. There are now no longer any US Airways 737 Classics operating out of the Charlotte hub. N406US landed at CLT with 43515 cycles and approximately 65405.45 hours. The airliner was a trusted performer for the carrier and has now been retired to the desert.

“Cactus 737”, its ATC callsign, flew from Charlotte to Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) to Philadelphia and back to Charlotte on August 19, and I was able to fly all three legs on it. US Airways elected to keep the event low-key, since, after all, the “new American Airlines” is currently operating over 230 Next-Generation 737-800s, and will eventually own a fleet of over 300 of the type. But what made the trip special for me was the fact that the pilot in command, Captain Jeff Tarr, was also flying his last trip as an airline pilot.

US Airways 737-400 N435US at the gate (JS)(LRW)

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. The end of an era. N435US sits at the gate, unlikely to carry passengers again.

 

When Cactus 737 pulled into Gate D7 at 9:48 pm at CLT, there was no real fanfare for the airplane, but there was plenty of recognition for Captain Tarr.

US Airways 737-400 Captain Jeff Tarr and F-O Robert Channell (JS)(LRW)

 

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Pictured in the cockpit of N435US is Captain Jeff Tarr (left) and F/O Robert Channell (right). This also was Jeff’s retirement flight.

And, after all, that is the way it should be. Too often, an airline is defined by its aircraft, or its color scheme, or its catch phrase. But what should REALLY define an airline is it’s employees. For most of us who have been in this industry for any length of time, it’s more than a job…it’s a way of life. Most of us who have been here for awhile began working in the days when we were envied for our status as airline employees. We remember hearing, “You have one of the best jobs in the world,” rather than, “I wouldn’t have your job for anything in the world.” An airline is about people, and not just airplanes.
 Having said that, the Boeing 737 has been part of the airline I work for during my entire 33-year career. Admittedly, the Airbus offers many advantages to the passenger than the old 737 Classic. And, of course, once the merger is complete, I will, again, be working for a company that will be operating 300+ Next-Generation 737s.

US Flt 737 Crew (JS)(LRW)

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. The proud crew of flight US 737 that operated the flight from DFW to PHL and finally to CLT.

 

In my personal opinion, an Airbus simply cannot compare to a Boeing in terms of useful life and ruggedness. Why do I say this? Just consider this fact. There are still plenty of 737s around with 30+ years on their airframes. Many still haul passengers, while countless others have been converted to freight dogs. I have no idea how many 737s have been converted to cargo carriers, but I can tell you exactly how many A320s have been.
 So, vive la 737. You’ve given me a great ride.

 

Piedmont Airlines (1st): AG Slide Show

USAir: AG Slide Show

US Airways: AG Slide Show

Jay Selman’s An Inside Look

An Inside Look – “Quite a career!”?

by Guest Editor Jay Selman.

Guest Editor Jay Selman

Guest Editor Jay Selman

It was exactly 33 years ago that I began my airline career with Piedmont Airlines. June 25, 1981 was a beautiful sunny day when I first stepped onto the ramp at Washington National Airport as an airline employee. I remember the ramp smelling of coffee, and I quickly discovered that there was an art to hoisting myself into the belly bin of a YS-11 without hitting my head on the bin ceiling. Every time a plane took off on what was then runway 36, I simply had to stop and take a look, I felt like I was the luckiest guy in the world!”

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. NAMC YS-11A-205 N219P (msn 2109) of Piedmont Airlines taxies to the runway at Fayetteville, NC.

Those were halcyon days for me, and to be honest, I didn’t realize how good I had it then. The captains usually found a way to take care of airline employees traveling on pass…often in the cockpit. Man, I loved that! Heck, one time, I was one of seven people in the cockpit of a 727! The captain gave me his “brain bag” and said, “Son, this is your seat for the next two hours, so hang on!”, and I replied, “Thank you, sir!”

When I worked in Newark, we had three flights a day that went up to Boston and came right back. The pay wasn’t that great in those days, so I thought nothing of flying up to Boston on the morning flight, enjoying a breakfast on board, and then flying back, having lunch along the way. For dinner, we could usually count on one flight canceling, and catering would unload the meals in the ops office, where I was working at the time. We could usually get free passes on other airlines, and I sure made the most of them. To date, I have set foot in over 40 countries on all six inhabited continents. (Some day, I will figure out a way to add Antarctica to that list!).

One day, I was flying from Heathrow to Kennedy on a Pan Am Boeing 747, and the check-in agent looked at my PI employee number on the pass and said, “Oh, you are P1 (one)…we can upgrade you to first class! I played dumb, and for the first time, experienced the luxury of a true intercontinental first class service, complete with caviar, plenty of vodka to wash it down, and a couple of glasses of Dom Perignon. I truly enjoyed that trip…at least, the part I remember!

I started out working part time at Washington National Airport with no benefits other than travel. It didn’t matter…there was never a shortage of people willing to work for $6 something an hour in exchange for being able to travel for free. After passing all my tests that were requirements for upgrading to full time, I transferred to Newark in 1983 as a full timer. Those were the days when PEOPLExpress (1st) was growing by leaps and bounds…and Piedmont was vigorously defending its territory in the southeast. Newark grew to become the largest non-hub station on the Piedmont system, and working there was a great learning experience for me. 3 ½ years later, in April 1986, I transferred to Raleigh-Durham, where I spent the next 13 years. In 1999, I transferred again to Miami, which was like being reassigned to heaven. As an airplane enthusiast, I can’t think of a better airport to have ramp access at. Being in Miami also allowed me to connect with some old friends, and opened the door to my becoming the editor of Airliners magazine for a couple of years..

Things changed, and I transferred to Charlotte in 2006, and, like Moses wandering in the desert for 40 years, I feel like I have finally reached the Promised Land. (The difference is, of course, that Moses never got to enter the Promised Land!). I am very happy in Charlotte, and plan to finish out my career here.
Three mergers and two corporate bankruptcies after I started with Piedmont, I still have a job, unlike many of my colleagues at Pan Am, TWA, Eastern, and Braniff, to name a few. The merger between Piedmont and USAir represented the biggest change for us…Piedmont was a way of life, and USAir was a job, although still a good one. I’ve lost track of how many different computer systems I have used over the years, as I get ready for yet another change of computer system, uniform, and name. The industry today is barely recognizable from the industry I began working for.

When I started, the Boeing 737-200 was the backbone of Piedmont’s fleet. Today, the last of the US Airways 737-400s are a few weeks away from leaving the fleet. Gone are meals on most domestic flights, and even on intercontinental flights, I’m not likely to get caviar and Dom. I can’t say I’m happy about the changes that have occurred in my industry, in general, and my company, specifically, but I still feel like I have one of the best jobs in the world.

Some days, you’re the big dog and some days, you’re the fire hydrant. I come to work with the attitude that I am going to have a good day, and I really do have more big dog days than fire hydrant days. I can wake up in the morning and decide to have dinner in New York, San Francisco, or London…as long as there is an empty seat on the plane, I’m all set.

Through my job, I met a wonderful kind-hearted woman who agreed to be my wife. I work in an airport environment, which to me is the equivalent of a young kid working in a candy store.

When I started 33 years ago, I could not begin to imagine where the journey was going to take me, but I have to admit it’s been a very good ride. There have been plenty of unforeseen twists and turns along the way, but all in all, I still consider myself blessed to be working in the industry that has been my lifelong passion.

Note: You can leave a note here for Jay.

Piedmont’s agents vote for CWA union representation

Piedmont Airlines’ (2nd) (US Airways Express) (Salisbury) 3,000 fleet and passenger service agents voted by a two-to-one margin for representation by the Communications Workers of America. Ballots were counted yesterday by the National Mediation Board.

The agents were the only major workgroup at Piedmont without union representation. Key issues in the campaign were job security, unfair and arbitrary treatment and the lack of a grievance process.

Voting took place under new election rules set by the NMB that ensured that airline elections would be conducted following the same democratic rules that govern elections in the United States. Testimony and other action by AFA-CWA, CWA and airline workers convinced the NMB to implement the fair election rule in June.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Please click on the photo for additional details.

20 Years Ago: Piedmont is merged into USAir

 

Please click on photo for full view, information and other historic photos.

Please click on photo for full view, information and other historic photos.