Resurrecting Eastern Airlines Belongs in the “Awful Idea” Hall of Fame

The rumors are flying that a plan to bring the Eastern Airlines name back is under way. This is easily one of the worst ideas I’ve seen in a long time. Bringing back a defunct airline’s name has rarely been a Bringing Eastern Back to Lifesuccessful move for airlines in the past, and the fact that Eastern had a pretty awful reputation among customers makes this even worse. Why the heck would you want that baggage?

Quick, what do you think of when you think of Eastern? Chance are it’s not good. Maybe one of the airline’s high-profile accounts sticks out for you? The one that comes to mind for me is Eastern 401. That’s the one where the pilots plowed into the Everglades after getting distracted by a landing gear issue.

But even more likely is that you think of a bad airline with horrendous labor relations, poor service, and really, not much good at all. The story of Eastern’s disastrous labor relations are legendary. The standoffs between Charlie Bryan and the final two CEO’s of the airline, Frank Borman and then Frank Lorenzo, were full of animosity and eventually, failed brinkmanship. Though they all lost in the end, in the meantime, the passengers suffered terribly.

But don’t think this was just a decline at the end of the airline’s life. Eastern was never known for its stellar service. This was an airline that was often known for making bad decisions under its first true leader, Eddie Rickenbacker, and I imagine that very few, other than employees or those with rose-colored glasses, will have fond memories. (Yes, I’m sure I’ll hear about it in the comments.) So why the heck would someone want to resurrect this name?

Well, Ed Wegel, the man trying to bring Eastern back, says that the plan “leverages off of Eastern’s core strengths while using all of the lessons we have learned from all of the start up airlines and the restructuring of all of the legacy carriers over the past 18 years.” Hmm, I can’t really think of many core strengths of Eastern’s except for maybe cost control efforts. Rickenbacker was a known tightwad, so in that sense, he was ahead of his time. Maybe this will be a Skybus clone.

A look at much of Ed Wegel’s bio is like walking through a cemetery. True, he left most of these companies long before they failed, but it’s still a depressing list.

  • CEO, SunTrips (hired 2005) – Shut down 2006
  • President, BWIA (1994-1996) – Airline shut down and replaced with Caribbean Airlines in 2007
  • SVP, Atlantic Coast Airlines (1991-1996) – Became Independence Air in 2004 and quickly failed
  • AVP, Shearson Lehman (1987-1991) – Went bankrupt in 2008
  • Manager, Pan American World Airways (1985-1988) – Shut down in 1991
  • Manager, Eastern Airlines (1985-1987) – Shut down in 1991

It hasn’t been all gloom and doom. He did work with both Chautauqua and Mesa during the 1990s and they’re both still around (though with a four cent share price, the latter is treading on thin ice).

But let’s get back to the point. Eastern does not invoke the same fuzzy, happy memories that other airline names like Piedmont may bring. But I wouldn’t even bring back a name like Piedmont’s. All you’re doing is setting expectations for something that probably won’t be matched.

And do I even need to discuss the ridiculousness of starting an airline at all right now? I think not.

If you’d like to learn more about the nasty history of Eastern Airlines, there are plenty of books around. The latter years are covered very well in the industry bible, Hard Landing. But you don’t need a book to get a good idea. Even this short article in Time magazine will give you enough background to know that there is no point is bringing this airline back to life.

71 Responses to Resurrecting Eastern Airlines Belongs in the “Awful Idea” Hall of Fame

  1. The Traveling Optimist says:

    Seems this song was sung for Braniff 2 and 3, not to mention a dismally depressing version of Pan Am that went from widebodies out of Miami to Skeeter Birds across Cape Cod. Please.
    No customer base, no frequent flyer program, no wide-open, massive hub market begging for new business (Palmdale, maybe?) and no national or international demand going unserved (vs under-served. I mean not being tapped at all).
    I see a flawed attempt at creating new jobs based on sentiment but not much else.

  2. Jean says:

    I do have a fond memory of Eastern. The Sunday after Thanksgiving in 1979 my mother, niece and I were scheduled to fly Braniff from JFK to Washington Dulles after spending the weekend in NYC. When we got to JFK at 4PM we were told that the plane had a mechanical issue and never left Dallas so the flight was cancelled. The ticket agent gave us passes for the bus to LaGuardia and told us that the Eastern Shuttle would accept our Braniff tickets, and that it was our only option since all other flights going to DC airports were full. I was very upset because I absolutely had to be at work Monday morning and that was the busiest travel day of the year. Since it was our only choice, we got on the bus and went to LaGuardia where we found a line with hundreds of people waiting for the shuttle. We got in line, hoping that we’d be able to get on a flight sometime that night. We did – in fact, we were on a plane less than a half hour after we got to LaGuardia! Eastern was really prepared – they rolled a plane up to the gate, filled it up with passengers, then sent it on its way and rolled up the next one. We had to go to National Airport rather than Dulles, but that was a small price to pay for getting home only an hour and a half later than originally scheduled! That was the second time I flew Eastern, and the last time, but I’ll never forget how they came through for us when we needed them.

  3. Joe says:

    There is a subsidiary of USAirways called Piedmont Airlines

    http://www.piedmont-airlines.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=cat&cat_id=43

  4. CF says:

    Jean – Ah yes, the famous Shuttle. That was one area they actually did excel. They were the ones who guaranteed a seat for anyone who wanted to travel, so they kept an extra plane on standby just in case they needed it. (I’m not sure how many times it was actually used, but it was NOT often.) The Shuttle became Trump Shuttle during Eastern’s death throes, and it eventually became the US Airways Shuttle that still exists today.

    Joe – Correct. And there’s also a PSA Airlines subsidiary, but that’s different from trying to really resurrect the name. PSA and Piedmont are regional airlines, and the planes do not fly in their colors at all. It’s not a name the public ever sees unless they look at the fine print to see which regional carrier is operating their US Airways Express flight. The only reason US Airways used these names for their regional subsidiaries is because they wanted to keep them active so nobody else could try to restart them.

  5. Zach says:

    Echoing The Traveling Optimist, can we please not revert to the trend of reviving failed airline brands for updated (bit idiotic) business models?

    That being said, if this must happen, then I want to see Eastern, Republic, Laker, Braniff, Pan Am, TWA, and Air Florida all resurrected with turboprop-only service and destinations limited to secondary markets in Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Kansas.

    Thanks in advance.

  6. A says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t the Frontier of today a completely different company than the old Frontier? I’d say the current re-incarnation has been a relative success and coincidently the old one was also owned by Texas Air. Hmmm.

    As for Eastern, I think it’s completely unfair to bring up flight 401. Yes, it was pilot error, but only because of a design flaw that Lockheed quickly fixed after. People still fly American after the 191 disaster that was caused because of a mechanics shortcut and completely preventable.

    Also it’s fair to note that Eastern’s ultimate demise was under Texas Air Corp, a company of corporate raiders not unlike what the movie Wall Street was about. Carl Ichan, a similar corporate raider destroyed TWA over the same period. Of all the airlines Texas Air once controlled, only Continental survived, and IMO, has become a much better airline since the end of Texas Air in the early 90’s.

    I never flew Eastern back in the 1970’s or earlier. Mostly before my time, but from what I’ve heard they were a good airline under Frank Borman. They were also the launch customer for the L1011, which for me is something worth noting.

    That said I agree it’s not a good idea to use the name, but just wanted to set the facts as I know them.

  7. Jared says:

    The real issue is that there’s no room for Eastern where they used to play – the world doesn’t need anymore cheap capacity to Florida, and their Latin American routemap has been more than filled up. Sadly, the world is not clamoring for middle-of-the-night transcons with stops in Kansas City, so even that niche won’t work. Sure, bringing back a brand that only has horrible associations with it is a terrible idea; but the fact of the matter is, other airlines moved in on their turf, and there’s nowhere left for them to play even if people loved Eastern (which they didn’t.)

  8. Frank says:

    I may still have my old IHEALS button somewhere in a box in the garage.

    (I Hate Eastern AirLineS)

    Wonder if it is worth anything on E-BAY?

  9. CF says:

    Zach – The funny thing is that you’re pretty much describing the original Braniff. I believe the Braniff boys got their start in Oklahoma.

    A – You’re absolutely right about Frontier. That’s the only reason I wrote “Bringing back a defunct airline’s name has RARELY been a successful move for airlines in the past.” Were it not for them, I would have said NEVER been a successful move! The Frontier ownership by Texas Air, however, was really after they had already died. They were bought by PEOPLExpress which in turn was bought by Texas Air. So it was already on its way out by the time Lorenzo took over. The funny part is that the new Frontier really found its niche when the very same Continental killed off its Denver hub in 1995.

    There’s nothing unfair about bringing up Eastern 401, because people remember that flight. It doesn’t matter who was ultimately at fault, but it’s still a very famous accident that people remember and associate with the Eastern name. But if you’d like to clear the record, then yes, there were problems on the plane that led the crew to believe the autopilot was on when in fact they were slowly descending into the swamp.

    Yes, Eastern’s ultimate demise was under Texas Air, but they sealed their own fate in that deal. Frank Borman, who did actually create a resurgence at the airline after years of problems, finally came head to head with labor and everyone lost. Had labor given Borman the cuts he asked for, the airline never would have been sold to Lorenzo.

    But once it was in Lorenzo’s hands, he absolutely raped the airline. He sold Continental the airline’s reservation system for a song (the one asset he really wanted). He also sold a bunch of Airbuses and cherry picked some of the good routes for Continental. That’s just one of the reasons why Lorenzo isn’t considered fit to run an airline by the feds anymore.

    Frank – I guarantee you that would be worth something on eBay – not sure how much though. I imagine a lot of people proudly owned those buttons!

  10. A says:

    I see your point about flight 401, but it is worth noting the real fame of that accident are the “hauntings” on other Eastern tristars fitted with salvage parts from the doomed plane. A big TV movie probably didn’t help the matter much either.

    Had forgotten about the reservation system. I lived in Houston while Lorenzo was running Eastern and faintly remember rumors of a merger between Eastern & Continental. One could probably argue Continental survives today at Eastern’s expense. Airline history is fascinating, that’s for sure.

  11. CF says:

    A – Yes, I remember seeing that ridiculous tv movie, but haunting stories like that are always fun to watch. They really did talk that one up, probably why it’s the one Eastern accident I remember most.

    Airline history is truly fascinating. I honestly can’t recommend reading Hard Landing enough for airline junkies. It is easily one of my favorite books of all time. Even non-airline people will be fascinated by it.

  12. CF any clue why US Airways no longer has the Allegheny name tied up somehow? Does the Heritage plane count?

  13. james says:

    I think I may have flown down to Florida from Michigan on Eastern when I was four, but other than that my only memories of Eastern are from the Simpsons episode where they visit Epcot Center, and it’s sponsored by “Eastern Airlines” in keeping with it’s dated 80s appearance.

  14. CF says:

    Nicholas – That’s a great question, and I don’t know the answer. Maybe they’ve tied it up by using the name for some other subsidiary or maybe they lost the right to the name long ago, before they started renaming express carriers after predecessor companies.

  15. PF says:

    Granted, the in flight product was not top tier, but I always found EA reservations (in the pre .com age) to be outstanding, and staff at smaller stations were very helpful.

  16. David SF east bay says:

    I flew Eastern a number of times between California and Kansas City, Miami, and the Caribbean and never had anything to say bad about them. The only thing I remember is getting off the plane in Miami and you always noticed this mildew smell in their gate area. One of the best breakfast meals I ever had on a domestic flight was on a EA night flight between LAX and MIA.

    But I agree that using an old airline name is not the smartest thing to do. Guess people who do this think the public will flock to the airline due the name. The worst was PanAm, taking a name still known around the world and trying to do what they did in a few small markets was sad.

  17. Joshua Inflight for AA says:

    Im actually excited to see someone start Eastern again! Ill go work for them. My great grandfather started with Eddy Rikenbacher to start Eastern and my grandfather was a mechanic from 1937 until they went out of business! Bring eastern back and Ill be there to work for them.

  18. Yo says:

    Screw Eastern, (though I love the Hockey Stick logo)

    I want Hughes AirWest back! Bright banana planes, flight attendants wearing tight yellow plastic boots and short yellow polyester uniforms!

    Yes!

    Hughes AirWest!

    The banana in the west!

  19. I can see it now! Delta is going to repurpose NW’s DC-9s under the Hughes AirWest brand and run them as a bright yellow airline within an airline!

  20. CF – Allegheny was in some type of use on a express airline from either 1979 or 1993 (sources are unclear) through 2004, when it got merged into Piedmont. (Their planes all got transfered over on 1/7/2004.)

  21. CF says:

    Nicholas – Thanks for clearing that up. So maybe the Allegheny name is now fair game for anyone who wants to bring that one back! ;)

  22. Scott says:

    Not counting the name, has anyone thought about the fact that Eastern’s old stomping ground is perhaps the most saturated, mature air travel market in the US? I mean, who *ISN’T* duking it out (and for the most part) losing their shorts between the Northeast and Florida these days? Or does the *new* Eastern think to find greener pastures by re-entering their Atlanta “hub” (always pale in the shadow of Delta at that one, even in it’s heyday), and step into the bloodbath that is Delta and Air Tran? Or not possibly the wide open, unrestricted slot-available havens of LaGuardia, Newark, and JFK? The best we can hope for is some sort of Eastwind/AirSouth/Vanguard/ProAir nightmare flying budget travelers from Kansas City to Trenton on a 727 with intermediate stops in Galesburg and Paducah.

  23. John says:

    I have fond memories of Eastern Airlines as the family traveled on vacations to Florida. Was a great airline until those who’s intent was to dis assemble and sell off for personal gain.

    This was a key airline which was brought down by corporate greed. This was a catchy name, It would work again.

    As for all those pointing out crashes, there is not one major airline out there that has not had their share, so save it.

    I hope he can get this together, competition is needed and many cities have been locked up with high fares with no alternatives.

    Good Luck to this group.

  24. Dave says:

    Hard Landing was awesome. Thanks for recommending it.

  25. Axelsarki says:

    What the hell are they thinking!? I a terrible economy, starting an airline that was terrible. If the surviving legacy carriers (US airways, United) Have filed Chap. 11, i cant imagine how bad Eastern #2 would do.

  26. CF says:

    Scott – Another great point. Theoretically there isn’t much low fare competition at Miami itself, so Eastern may have some grand plan about doing it there. But you know why there’s no real low fare competition at Miami? It’s way to friggin’ expensive. And of course, you have to go up against American which is flying many of the same routes that were originally Eastern’s.

    John – Eastern’s story is not so simple as being brought down by corporate greed. If you’re referring to Lorenzo, then the airline was already on a downhill slide before then. Labor played just as integral of a part bringing it down as management did in the end.

    And John, you’ve made my point about crashes perfectly. Most airlines have had accidents and that’s another reason you don’t want to recycle any name. You just bring back all the baggage that comes with it.

  27. Ed says:

    There are sometimes unintended consequences of one’s actions. Many years ago Eastern had a fare of $49 from Puerto Rico to New York. This created an incredible migration which formed the basis of the many Puerto Rican communities in New York City.

  28. Jim says:

    I had been wondering why Wegel backed out of the running for the Air Jamaica CEO spot.

  29. Jay says:

    I remember plane watching once while waiting to catch a connection through Heartsfield. On that day, I saw the filthiest winged-behemoth ever!! Can you guess what logo was on that plane?

    Although the cleanliness of the outside of the plane may not have anything to do with the quality of the flight (or of the safety of the plane), it just made me feel uneasy.

    I was in Jr. High at the time but that image and feeling still stick with me. That’s the Eastern I remember.

  30. Actually Allegheny was placed in use on a US Air Express airline in 1989:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20040402001550/www.alleghenyairlines.com/history.htm

    • Nancy says:

      USAirways Express happens to be Piedmont. I work for them. BUT….they work under the umbrella of USAIRWAYS. All rules and regs come thru USAIRWAYs which we call “mainline”. Eastern had a much better dealings with their employees and treated them with more respect than any airline now. I would be more than happy to work for whatever Company revived EAL because the employees that would return to work for them would give 100%. We have known the pain of seeing our Co. close it’s doors.

      The travel industry has changed over the years and flying is not a “save for the trip” any more. Airports look like the old bus terminals. Passengers do not appreciate great service so they have taken the services away. Cost factors for customer services have risen to an all time high. Baggage services are a joke. Employees (ground and air) do not do their jobs at 100% because unions are used for fall backs.

      Would I like to see the rebirth….you betcha!

  31. JM says:

    As a native Floridian and current Atlanta resident, I feel the need to chime in that there are quite a few people in places like Miami and Atlanta who have fond memories of Eastern.

    EAL employed many in these cities, of course.

    And who can forget “If You Had Wings”, the ride/attraction at Walt Disney World during the 1970s and early 1980s?:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_You_Had_Wings

    Time and tide might just have helped to replace memories of “the bad Eastern” with nostalgia for “the good Eastern” in the minds of others.

    Further, one can argue that Eastern at its worst was better than some of the airline product we have out there today. The old brand might just have some value yet.

    After having said all of that, I think this is a name that should stay in the airline graveyard, though.

    Besides, didn’t we already go through “The New Eastern” under Texas Air?

  32. CF,

    Can this group bring back the L-1011 with hockey-stick livery and have them depart from JFK T1? If so…I’m in for old time sake!

    -Fish

  33. CF says:

    Jim – That actually may have been because he was smart. I wouldn’t want to touch Air Jamaica right now. That’s a heck of a tough fix job.

    JM – Yeah that’s right. They did call it the “New Eastern” after they stripped it down didn’t they? I think I still have an old timetable from that somewhere. So this would have to be the “New New Eastern” or maybe the “Really New Eastern.”

    Fish – Well there are plenty of L1011s collecting mothballs I’m sure, but I don’t know how many of those could fly again. But I’m sure they could rustle up a few. As for T1, well, that entire building is gone so it just wouldn’t be the same in the new one.

  34. Rob says:

    Perhaps the “New Eastern” will retrofit those stinky old planes that were grounded (thankfully) years ago.

    The Eastern of old makes UAL of today look like a highly respected, service-oriented organization. I can’t think of a lower brand name than Eastern Airlines.

  35. SB says:

    This is the article about the original idea last year, when the name was sold.

    http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/stories/2008/04/14/story1.html

  36. Dotty says:

    Eastern Airlines was a great Airline. I flew with them based out of Miami for many years. I and many many others loved that Airline. So stop bashing Eastern

  37. airplane guy says:

    Eastern probably has pretty good brand recognition in NY, Boston and Miami as well as much of Latin America. I wouldn’t count it out all together.

    I know that Delta considered buying the rights to Eastern for their Song subsidiary at one point.

    And re: Flight 401, check out eastern401.googlepages.com

  38. Duane says:

    I remember Eastern very well. I would fly them quite often to Atlanta up until they closed the doors. I do hope this airline returns. I know I would surely give them a try.

  39. Rob says:

    Sorry, Dotty.
    I am entitled to my opinion. There are many reasons they are no longer in business. Lousy service, filthy planes and food not fit for a slug, just to name a few.

  40. JT says:

    Lets not forget another Coffin that Wegel has burried. OTV Acquisitions (One Travel.com) He cam e in to save it and then ran it into the ground just like he will Eastern.

  41. a fan says:

    I hear they are buying into USA 3000 Airlines (apple vacations owened) that may give them a leg up with built in travel agency, a big one at that

  42. Tony K says:

    I worked for EAL as a A&P technician for a little over nine years. I was hired at a time when most other airlines were laying off. We were one of the first to use the L1011 Tristar, the A300 Airbus and the Boeing 757. Mr. Borman always tried to keep the fleet up to date and well maintained. He was always looking to expand and improve the company. (Routes to South America and London) He routinely addressed the employees and tried to keep them informed. But the costs started to add up and with deregulation taking more and more affect on the industry the death spiral began at Eastern. Granted Mr. Borman was one of the flag wavers for deregulation, which to this day he probably regrets but all and all the airline was profitable and well respected in the industry.

    It was very hard to get hired at Eastern. The standards they set for their technicians were very high and produced on average three or four hired out of fifty applicants. The first seven years working at Eastern were great. The last two years were nightmares. So much so that I swore off working for any other airline.

    Enough said about old times. I applaud Mr. Wegel in his attempt to bring Eastern Airlines back to life. Despite some comments above the workers at Eastern were firmly commited in making the airline the best in the world. Everyone I have talked with is enthusiastic n the airline coming back and interested in getting involved. And I don’t think the timing is off. The econimy is going to bounce back and the airline can grow right with it. I understand the fleet will consist of 30 new Airbus 318’s. These are extremely efficient aircraft and should do well.

    Time will tell if Mr. Wegel can pull this off. I for one support Mr. Wegel bringing Eastern back to life and would go to work for him any day. Good Luck and fly safe.

  43. Joey says:

    Ed Wegel is a sick twisted nut job. He screams like a lunatic to get what he wants like a baby in the end like a baby he gets a good spaniking and goes to his room crying and screaming some more.

    An arrogant man is Ed Wegel very arrogant and this POS scam will end soon enough

  44. Biagio Ambrosino says:

    NO FOND MEMORIES?!?!??!?!!? Are you out of your mind? Get your facts straight. I’m a former Eastern Airlines employee, and I still get raves over the service we provided the passengers. Passengers have fond memories of Eastern. Speaking with people, I always smile when they recall the steak dinner they used to get in COACH.

    I also remember the overbooked flights, and the mechanical delays on the L1011 fleet. I remember when the battles between Charlie and the Franks.

    CF- Let me tell you the union was not COMPLETELY at fault. The IAM had offered to take a paycut in 1998, and get raises based on merit and not negotiated rates. It was Borman who turned them down. So let’s give Charlie a break.

    All empoyees were supposed to be owners of the airline with our 3.5% WIP contributions, which later turned to be 18%. We bought a fleet of 727’s and the first 3 757’s for our airline. All employees loved our airline. Eastern had a modern fleet in the 1980’s, thanks to us.

    When Lorenzo bought the airline, he did so on the condition that Borman would not even look at any other bids. The conditions of the employee ownership stated that WE were supposed to be offered first opportunity to purchase the airline. When the employees heard about Lorenzo, we tried a counter offer, but Borman wouldn’t listen to use. The employees were raped.

    When Lorenzo finally took over my airline, he stated in a memo that we were a no amenities airline. This meant during flight delays that we were not allowed to give a glass of water, while Continental was feeding their passengers at the gate across from mine with my company’s money. Eastern became the sacrificial lamb.

    And the authors memory of flight 401.Yes, it was tragic, but not the only memory the flying public has of Eastern Airlines. Eastern had some of the BEST service in the sky and on the ground.

    Now, I will admit Mr. Wegl may not be the best choice for the reincarnated Eastern, and these are not the best times. I do believe that after 18 years, if executed correctly and with alot of planning, a reincarnated Eastern will work.

  45. Biagio Ambrosino says:

    I apologize. I made a typo. The year I meant to type was 1988, not 1998. Eastern was gone in 1991.

  46. Kim Anderson (Phelps-nee) says:

    The writer of this article doesn’t have a clue. This company that had such fine, dedicated, professional employees, deserves a comeback.
    This airline separated itself from the others, due to their employees. They made this company and I know they would love to see it return.

    I would be a faithful customer, refusing to fly any other, if this were to happen. My father was employed for many years, beginning his career at DCA, and ending at TPA.

    Today, there is no such thing as customer service. You are lucky to get anything other than rudeness and avoidance from employees of airlines nowadays.

    Bring back EAL and you will bring back the excellent customer service that was provide to it’s passengers, exceeding all others. Trust Me. You have no clue….

    I believe I have greater insight into this as my family has been in aviation field for years, with grandfather working for now defunked TWA. Although they were great company, EAL still exceeded them. So, Mr. Writer, please don’t tell me that I don’t know what I am talking about.

    Anyone willing to argue this point, feel free to contact me via email. That is how strongly I feel about their return.

  47. Tom says:

    Who ever wrote this article is a real ASS. Probably the same Delta employee that told my dad in 1991 as he walked out the terminal for the last time as an Eastern employee that he was glad Eastern was finally gone. Interesting how the arrogance of some even have the nerve to write an article such as this. He doesn’t insult an air line. He insults its people. To hell with him.

  48. geojet says:

    Bad idea??? You know its people like you, Mr. Writer/Reporter that infected an industry that pioneered aviation. Why don’t you just go Greyhound next time ass wipe!

  49. Nancy says:

    If an airline came back named Eastern Airlines, I would run to jump on the band wagon! I was a flight attendanr for EAL from the 60s to the 80s and it’s very dear to my heat! I loved the company, loved the services and worked proudly. Today, the airlines do not offer services. I work for Piedmont (USAirys Express) so I still have a hand in the industry but see it from the ground.

  50. Mike says:

    I’d work for them in a heart beat if they came back. Hell, when I first heard about it I went digging around trying to find anyone that knew anything about the prospect to get onboard at the ground level… I’ve worked for a number of other airlines these last few years and the more I do, the more I realize that the ones that are actually worth a crap are eaten by larger ones that only care about stock holders and making their CEO’s fatter. Sides, they couldn’t be any worse than USair… And I doubt they would be any worse than the others are, considering how crappy most have gotten these last few years. Baggage / Carry on fees anyone?

  51. missy says:

    The author of this website….it is obvious.
    Delta? Delta does not have a union….what do they know? They always copied Eastern Airlines. My choice was to fly with EAL. Delta was a puny airline like American and United. Put puts.
    And I am just a passenger…never worked for an airline but I have heard plenty.
    Let’s begin by booking on an American Airlines, United/Continental, or US Airways flight and get hammered with fees on a seat then another fee on where to sit, on bags, getting treated so nicely by the so rude ticket and gate agents, count on being the last to board and seeing everyones bag that they don’t want to pay for to take up all the overhead space, the dreadful unkept flight attendants and their please pay service if any is fit to be offered, dirty planes, the pilots that never turn off the seat belt sign and look like they need a make over, and hope your luggage arrives, makes it to it’s destination intact, or you don’t see your belongings being sold at some obscure warehouse after months and months of trying to track it down or even trying to get a hold of someone for service on locating your bag by phone, email, or even at the airport.
    The Eastern Airlines present disgruntled striking pilots and flight attendants that after 20 years of the airline closing continue to circulate a “scab” list, a list of employees who kept the airline flying while they, striking employees, made the intelligent choice of handing Eastern Airlines on a silver platter to their enemy Frank Lorenzo and left them jobless. They all had to find another job, start at the bottom at low pay, and they state that “they won”. Victory of being unemployed? Today Frank Lorenzo is living a very comfortable life and no one has threatened/harrassed/intimidated him. He doesn’t have to make a living like all the folks who woke up early every morning running the airline 24/7/365 at Eastern Airlines for many years to repair a plane or made sure the airplane is safe to fly, fly an aircraft and take responsibility to get from point A to point B, to smile and welcome customers keeping them safe while comforting them. Chances are that the airline they are working now, the CEO is not Frank Lorenzo, but the same calibre with another name. But the list has been complied by their unions to threaten/intimidate/harass any ex employee who tries to find any job and worse if it’s in the airline industry. Delta of who doesn’t have a union is guilty of this. Heard of it plenty.
    Every time I get near the airport, it doesn’t even need to be near an airport, there is talk about CEO or COO of X airline, how the employees need to make concessions, and so on. It’s becoming a nightmare to even live next to an airline employee because that’s all I hear. It’s disgusting what the airline industry has become…cut throats, biggots, greedy..antichrist.
    Eastern Airlines was a great airline and will continue to be one of the greats. My hats off for every Eastern employee who worked for many years and stayed to keep that airline from being destroyed by Frank Lorenzo or their peers.

    • Thank you for the kind words about Eastern Air Lines. However, you don’t know the true intent of Frank Lorenzo. It was not his intent to destroy Eastern, but streamline it into a carrier that would survive. The unions fought for years, not only to keep what they had, but to take more. Lorenzo did have the intent to break the unions because Eastern would not survive if union contracts were not renegociated into something survivable. Unions rejected all concessions and in attempt to take over the airline through the courts, they went on strike. Which was actually a good thing as now Lorenzo had an opportunity to use none contract employees (these were the most hard working nicest people you could have ever known, a total contrast to union mentality). However, the nail in the coffin wouldn’t be the unions, but the 1991 Gulf War that drove up fuel prices. IMHO Eastern would have survived if not for the war. Lorenzo sought to bust unions yes, for survivability, so unions played dirty and called a strike as payback. Unions are nasty people, they believe that they are entitled to everything and will fight tooth and nail to get what they want, pure evil.

  52. My comment to you is you don’t know what you are talking about. I was with Eastern Airlines for nearly 25 years, starting with Capt Rickenbucker and ending with that that union buster frank Lorenzo. That scum bag should be shot. My opinion of your comments tells me that you haven’t worked for an airline and Eastern was once a great carrier. Eastern was my livelyhood and I worked very hard for this company and it hurt me to see eastern shut down. Lorenzo wanted to break our unions and fly Eastern under Continentals wing but we didn’t win nor lose, it was a heading banging battle with that scum bucket. So there you have it. If eastern does fly again. The employees of the yestayear Eastern will make Eastern an excellent carrier and kick Southwests ass.

    • 30 years @ Eastern says:

      Lorenzo busted the unions only after the unions would not concede anything to help the airline survive. How can one justify having a worker paid $20/hr, which was a lot in the 80’s, for an 8 hour work day, but they only really worked 3 or 4? Once a ramp man did his “union” defined job he was done only to go and sit in the lounge until the next flight. How pathetic is that to think that someone was “entitled” to have a job like that and bitch when the airline sank because the unions drove up the operating costs so high that Eastern could not compete in the new age of deregulation. Sometimes unions are good, but at Eastern, the unions sucked. BTW, a real Eastern employee would know that it is EASTERN AIR LINES. Not airlines.

      • JanG says:

        The Flight Attendants & Pilot’s unions did conceed . It was the Machinest’s Union that wouldn’t budge: thus causing a strike that lasted way too long. The other unions went on strike in sympathy and unity, hoping to get rid of Frank Lorenzo and his corporate raiding way. I was a F/A for 18 years with Eastern and it was a great airline with great people. The author doen’t know what he’s talking about!

  53. Ansley Park says:

    I was working for Piedmont Airlines in CLT during 1982. The differences I observed from the ramp could not have been more opposite for the two airlines. Piedmont’s operations and customer service agents were young 20 somethings, many ex-Vietnam vets, and were eager to work for peanuts. There was no union, but at Thanksgiving each employee received a turkey. Not a coupon for a turkey but the actual frozen bird. On the ramp those not driving a tug would run to meet the plane as soon as the chocks were set. Eastern by contrast had way to much equipment sitting idle on the ground and their operations agents were “old” and slow. They would stroll over to the plane. After deregulation the legacy carriers couldn’t compete with low frills start ups. They needed to bring their costs down. Why Eastern didn’t realize that early on is a mystery. I wonder if they had been able to read the tea leaves and embraced becoming a discount carrier if things would have turned out differently.

    Still, I loved EAL and continued to fly them until the very end.

  54. CF says:

    30 years @ Eastern – I will not tolerate personal attacks on other commenters. I have deleted the comments that you have already tried to post with those attacks. You are welcome to disagree with commenters and have plenty of snark in the process. But calling people names and not providing any useful information will result in the deletion of your comment.

  55. Chris says:

    It is amazing the amount of animosity and intense feelings that continues to exist more than 20 years after the demise of EAL. I was lucky enough to work them for 13 years, then another 20 years with other carriers until recently retiring from Delta after its merger with Northwest. There was certainly enough blame and short-sightedness on both sides to make the end inevitable. Eastern existed during what can now be referred as the “golden age” of flight. The fact that feelings are still so raw after such a long time is indicative of the love/hate relationship employees had with the company, the union, and each other.

  56. We used to fly Eastern all the time from Boston Logan in the 1980s and never had any problem with service. Flight attendants were great and always treated us kids well. They had a pretty good breakfast back then, yes remember when you used to get served meals on planes? and yeah there were delays but there are delays on any aircraft. Eastern was top notch in my experience.

  57. Mike says:

    You don’t what the hell your talking about, was working there for ten years, saw first hand what that scumbag Frank Lorenzo, Eastern Airlines was a great airline who people wanted to fly with them, also the people who worked for them,pilots, flight attendants and mechanics were the best both on the clock and off. If it wasn’t for that big headed Frank Borman and his cronies which he brought in as VPs of misc areas of the company it sti might be flying today. As for Lorenzo that lowlife which was brought In by Borman to scare the unions, he should be feathered and tarred, and that would be to good for him!!!

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  59. Tom says:

    I know plenty of union people that should have not only been tarred and feathered but put in jail as well. After seeing what the union mentally is capable, I say unions suck.

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