Airline

Texas Standard: March 26, 2020

We’ve asked listeners statewide what questions do you have about the Coronavirus. Today, we’re getting some answers. Dr. Fred Campbell of the Long school of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio takes on listener questions about COVID-19. Plus, attention shoppers. A certain statewide grocer on the front lines of this crisis asking for help from the public. And how high tech is trying to tackle COVID-19. Also, amid warnings about future lack of bed space, are Texas hospitals ready? Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: January 21, 2019

Tomorrow marks one month of the longest partial government shutdown in U.S. history. We’ll talk with correspondents statewide to gauge the impact on Texas. Also a new space race heating up, score one for the home team. Plus one of the deadliest tree diseases in the U.S. reaches epidemic proportions in the Lone Star State. An expert tells us what to do and what not to if we hope to save our oaks. All that and a whole lot more, today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: May 9, 2018

The go it alone strategy: as North Korea returns three American hostages, a new test for Trumpian diplomacy, we’ll explore. Also, it’s being touted as an historic deal between inmates and the Texas prison system over air conditioning. What could be a lifesaver nationwide. And more cracked windows and more plane diversions: should there be age limits on commercial aircraft? We’ll explore. Also, Senator Ted Cruz’s Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke says there’s never been a connection between the border and terrorism. A Politifact check on that claim. And losing the plot: officials try to identify who owns a mystery cemetery. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: May 3, 2017

Southwest says no more overbooking. But what about everyone else? Public outrage becomes political baggage for the airlines, we’ll have the story. Also some legal experts call it one for the ages: a federal court in Texas issues a ruling that could tilt the scales for the poor accused of low-level crimes. So why haven’t you heard about it? You will today. Plus, something dangerous in the water? Concerns mount in a Texas city known round the world for its fixer uppers. And a bill to crackdown on cyberbullying: why suicide prevention groups are raising red flags. And can you live stream an open public hearing in Texas? You sure about that? Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: April 4, 2017

A high school tradition, just boys being boys? Police say it was sexual assault and now the Texas Rangers are asking questions. We’ll explore the details. Also in the movies, when Mr. Smith went to Washington he used a Senate rule and it made him hero. As real-life Senators prepare to revoke the filibuster, what’s the real history? And baggage fees, extra charges for window seats, but you’ll never guess what’s really padding airlines bottom lines these days. Here’s a hint: it may be padding your wallet too. Also as umpires shout play ball across the country, a reminder of a league of our own. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

The Airline That Started With A Cocktail Napkin

This story starts off like many good stories do: two men walked into a bar. Now, we have to expand it a little, two men walked into a bar in San Antonio fifty years ago. Okay, it was actually a restaurant & bar. They ordered drinks, and perhaps hors d’oeuvres. One grabbed a cocktail napkin, took out his pen, and said to the other, “Here’s the plan.”

He then drew a simple triangle on the napkin. At the apex of the triangle he wrote Dallas. The bottom left he labeled San Antonio. On the bottom right he wrote Houston. He said, “There – that’s the business plan. Fly between these cities several times a day, every day.” And that is the story of how Southwest Airlines began, on a simple napkin in a bar in San Antonio.

The two men were Rollin King and Herb Kelleher. Rollin was a pilot and a businessman and Herb was a lawyer. Rollin would become a managing director of the company and Herb would become its chairman. There is a plaque at the Southwest Airlines headquarters that enshrines a version of the original napkin with this exchange:

“Herb, let’s start an airline.”

“Rollin, you’re crazy. Let’s do it!”

There are many things that Southwest became famous for. First, its LUV nickname, which is still the company’s stock market trading symbol. It introduced hostesses, as they called their flight attendants then, in hot pants and white go-go boots. They were competing in the sexy skies where Braniff stewardesses wore Pucci chic – uniforms by Italian designer Emilio Pucci – and Continental advertised, in a not-so-subtle double entendre, that they “moved their tails for you.” Southwest hostesses cooed in their ads, “There’s someone else up there who loves you.”

But beyond the sizzle, there was genuine business genius in Southwest efficiencies: peanut fares and the ten-minute turnaround, which had never been achieved before. To date, Southwest has flown over 23 million flights without one fatality. Now that’s a safety record.

Perhaps the coolest story in Southwest Airlines’ history, and relatively unknown, was the fare war they fought with now defunct Braniff Airlines in 1972. Braniff went head-to-head with Southwest on the Houston-Dallas route, offering $13 dollar fares as a means of “breaking” Southwest, which didn’t have deep pockets. Southwest responded with a $13 dollar fare or a $26 dollar fare that included a free bottle of Chivas, Crown Royal or Smirnoff.

According to airline lore, for the two months before Braniff surrendered, Southwest was Texas’ biggest distributor of premium liquor.

Not long before he died, Rollin King confessed that the napkin story wasn’t entirely true, but he said that it was a “hell of a good story.” It was sad to hear that, but too late: the myth had become more powerful than the reality. An old saying in journalism is that when the legend becomes fact, print the legend. This is what I prefer to do. After all, it is hard to imagine that a concept so perfectly observant of Occam’s Razor – the simplest solution is usually the best – would not have, at some point, been sketched out on a napkin, a legal pad, or the collected dust on the hood of Cadillac.

W.F. Strong is a Fulbright Scholar and professor of Culture and Communication at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. At Public Radio 88 FM in Harlingen, Texas, he’s the resident expert on Texas literature, Texas legends, Blue Bell ice cream, Whataburger (with cheese) and mesquite smoked brisket.

June 11, 2015

Motorcyclists from all over Texas descend on the state capitol for an annual rally…but in the wake of Waco, the tone could turn political. Also, a hearing which could limit oil and gas activity in an area where where there’s been a whole lotta shakin goin on. Plus, the airline boarding process –are flyers getting taken for a ride? Water water—it was everywhere…now, watch out for the mold.