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Free airline transportation in the old days


Mission, TX
These memories kind of happen in stages.

At one point in the late 50s, my parents took my younger brother and I to Chadron, NE to visit my sister. To keep me busy, my sister had set me up with a beautiful collage friend of hers who happened to be from Hawai'i and really a wonderful person. A strange thing happened that day. My dad gave me the keys to his huge new Chrysler without my asking and told me to have fun (with a big smile) and with no requirement on when I was to get back. The two of us did a complete tour of the Black Hills for some 14 hours. She had to sneak back into the dorm since I was a "little" late getting her back but talk about fun. That is really the first time my Dad ever let me use "his" car for a date which, to me, was unbelievable. Now for the rest of that story. Several years later after I started working for an airline, I arranged to get my parents free passes to Hawai'i. Their first request was to meet the parents of the lady I took out in Chadron. My parents were actually invited to stay with them and received a person tour of the local points of interest. Ah, the great Aloha friendship. The parents in Hawai'i were farmers, Hawaiian style, so they had lots to talk about farm wise and the ladies never quit talking so I heard.

I arranged many free trips for my parents all over Alaska and on one trip, described elsewhere, arranged for my Father to ride up front with a couple of comical pilots on a non stop flight from Barrow to Kotzebue on a F-27. Dad really got a kick out of that flight and never worried about flying again. He was used to flying in my brother's Cherokee 6 and that really got to him but suspect it might have been the way my brother flew the aircraft. I know I was.

When it came time for my parents wedding anniversary, I arranged free transportation on the good old Pan Am flight 1 around the world. That would have really been a trip for them but at the last minute, my Dad backed out because of a war in Turkey that he didn't want to get involved with so they didn't go. I sent them to Hawai'i again instead and back to the farmer friends they had met before.

All of this was back in the good old days with all airlines really extended curtesies to parents of other carrier's personnel. I know in my area of responsibility, whenever I got a personal message asking for assistance, I bent over backwards to do all posable. It was always the intent of the owners of Wien to do anything we could to make airline employee's parents comfortable. We owned several bush lodgings across the north half of the state and usually parents were offered a free stay or at minimum, a small charge for meals.

This was back in the good old days when flying, commercial or private, was fun because you never had to carry "the book" on a knee pad, you flew as you thought necessary. Lets face it, if I could set down and write a completely new part 121/135 operations manual for receiving, storage and transporting of hazardous materials by air and get it approved on first reading by the FAA without so much as a change of a comma or period, I must have been lucky since it was approved in DC, not locally. Try doing that now days. Oh yes, back to the story.

I was really lucky really because I often carried books of passes that I could write for myself when traveling. Western Airlines was especially nice to me in that respect. Since I was able to bypass the pass department for the airline I worked for when I was assigned to Prudhoe Bay, I could request free transportation for all of my employees anywhere on the system of many airlines. Normally, an employee is limited to maybe one or two passes per year per airline but since my crews worked 2 weeks on and one week off, they really enjoyed being able to travel on their week off. I suspect that is one of the reasons I was accused by many top management in my airline of running my own airline out of Prudhoe Bay but my employees sure enjoyed it. Of course, I flew to Maui, HI every two weeks to stay at a Polynesian Resort I was associated with as their Alaska Sales Rep. Ah yes, the Maui Lu Resort and my toy was the Maui Lu II.