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40 Years in 40 Days: Class of 1971

kdruckamiller
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It's a great honor to be able to represent the founding year of Southwest Airlines: 1971.  I suppose it's more a testament to longevity than anything else.  Forty years later, and I'm still here.  

Like so many others, I was a Purdue Airlines refugee, and unlike others finding Southwest, it was Southwest that found me.  Someone from Southwest found out Purdue was going down, and scooped many of us up, knowing Purdue's flight crews were jet qualified.  

Southwest Airlines basically gave us an open invitation.  There were about 12 pilots, 6 or 7 people from Maintenance, and a few Flight Attendants.   I needed the job, and truth was, there weren't a lot of aviation jobs available. I didn't know then that Southwest was going to make it, but well, now you can see the results!

Briefly, I thought about moving to Ozark, and even interviewed, but my wife at the time decided she didn't want to go back to the Midwest.
So I stayed.  I've been in Maintenance since day one, and was in Dallas for 27 years.  I started as an inspector on the seat check crew, worked there for 5 or 6 years, then worked the shops.

After 27 years, I transferred to Tampa, where I'm the day line lead mechanic.  When I went to Florida, I thought of retiring, but I figured I'd take the job down there and see if I liked it.  Clearly, it wasn't so bad.

Southwest's Culture hasn't changed, but it has been modified.  In order to be successful in an evolving industry, you have to change.
 
Excusing the double negative, the following sentence sums up my experience: I've never not come to work because of Southwest.  It has never been the Company.

I owe Southwest so much.  And to see this thing through four decades has been incredibly special.  Thank you, Southwest.
44 Comments
evie_coco
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happy anniversary!! Were married 40 years this yr also!
Cynthia_Black
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Congratulations! We have the same birthday, although I don't expect U2 or any other celebrities to notice!!
Joye_R__Swain
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Congratulations SW Air! I remember taking friends from NY City from OKC to Dallas--or was it Fort Worth--in the good ole days. I think they suffered culture shock during the flight. First, there was the comment "If you've washed your feet this morning take off your boots and relax. If not, please keep your boots on." Then there were the comments about placing the oxygen over your face and then putting the other on your favorite child. The required safety notifications of flotation devices for use should we make an emergency landing in a Texas lake. Of course, it went on like this until we were approaching landing and the pilot politely inquired if any one knew whether Love Field was in Dallas or Fort Worth. Our guests panicked. I miss those good ole days when SW not only provided excellent transportation but added a spark of enjoyment to the trip. Keep on keeping on. We love you.
Hal_Kaufman
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Dear Southwest, We love flying with you, but we get very tired driving from Memphis to Little Rock or Nashville to catch one of your AWESOME flights. We fly Southwest in order to save money and have a fine time in the air with your Flight Attendants. Now for the big question??? WHEN ARE YOU COMING TO MEMPHIS TO REPLACE AIR TRAN?? WE NEED YOU !
dianne_Staller
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I have loved your airlines since I was a kid visitng grandma: Happy Birthday SW Airlines!!!!!!!!!!!
Robyn_Dalton
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From my first flight with Southwest many years back I was impressed with the Southwest attitude - good service & a touch of humor. Flying on Southeast is a pleasure & I enjoy the affordable fares. Your employee demeanor says a lot about hiring & training. You must be a great employer. Thank you & happy anniversary.
Geetha
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Any deals for who r turning 40 this year?
Stephen_Estes
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My wife and I just celebrated our 40th anniversary in April. Congratulations to everyone else celebrating the same milestone this year!
john_scozzari
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Have flown with south west from Nashville to Conn.also Vages never a problem.A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU AND YOUR EMPLOYEES. JOHN
Kathie_Cotnoir
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Congratulations!! I love traveling on such a stress free airline!!!
Judy_Martinez
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My husband, son and I have been flying SWA for as long as I can remember. One year my husband logged over 100,000 miles so I was able to fly for free with him the following year......good times! We have even in the past received birthday cards from SWA, how can you not love an airline that remembers you! PS: My husband and I will be flying SWA this Juth 4th weekend headed to the destination of our 40th anniversary celebration.
Sam_Hill
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Mr. Druckamiller, congratulations on the longevity with SWA---and thanks for checking out and maintaining all those planes for every time we've flown SWA since 1971. As college students back then, the flights were $10, while the bus service was $6. Even on a limited budget, it was always a no-brainer choice: a lot quicker, a lot more comfortable, and a lot more fun. Knowing that someone who moved to Florida to retire from Southwest---and stayed on there to keep working on the planes for us passengers---reinforces what the front personality of the airline gives out.
virginia_coogan
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No other airline even gets close to offering the friendly and efficient service that you do; it's a natural for SWA employees. My favorite memory is when a few off-duty pilots were passengers, and the flight attendant announced the pilots would answer all our questions about flying. My question was "How do planes fly?" The pilot answered, "Really high and fast!" Happy 40th Birthday!!! Virginia
Gary_Crane
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We were eating at a Mexican restaurant and it was raining hard when we left .So we decided to go to Dallas where it was snowing so I called South West airlines and booked two tickets. We took off and could not land so we flew to Denver and not land there also. So we flew to Houston and spent the night and caught another flight in the morning .We got to Dallas by 9:11 that day an finaly got to play in the snow thanks South West airlines
Lillian_Rothenb
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Happy 40th Birthday Southwest and a least 40 more years. Keep up the great services. Love flying with you.
MaryAnne_Johnso
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We LOVE Southwest - Happy Birthday! Here's to 40 more ( and more)!
p_stein
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CONGRATULATIONS SouthWest!!!!!!!!!!40 years is a long time My husband and I are celebrating our 40th anniversary this year and our daughter is turning 40 this year also...(how did that happen?) Smiley Wink You people are the only airlines we fly!!!!!
Lynn_Masterson
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Congratulations Southwest Airlines. You are MY favorite airline and I wish you flew all over the world.
Donna_Lynn_Walt
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I love Southwest!!! ALWAYS have great service and fun attendants! LOVE the no charge for luggage checked, as I always have a package for the kids! Hope you come to Des Moines soon, so when I come from Orlando to see the kids and grandkids, I don't have to drive from Omaha!!!
Mark_Lemke
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I liked the old commercials, when the stewardesses (now called flight attendants) wore go-go boots and short, short skirts!
Pat_Ski
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Congrats!! I have followed S/W for years and was impressed by the CEO. I am still trying to get hired by them.
Ann_Rawcliffe
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I've been flying on SW since they came to Ft. Lauderdale. Service has always been top notch, all staff is warm, friendly & very helpful. The flight staff always make me chuckle with their wit. Congratulation on 40 years of wonderful service!
paul-laufer
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Thank you for coming to Islip!!! Now it so easy to go to Orlando!!!
Karen_Richau
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I love SWA!! It's fun, it's caring, and most of all I love getting my own seat! Happy 40th SWA.
Kathleen_Rodger
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Happy Birthday Southwest - Here is our favorite SW story. We flew another airline for our trip from Calif. to St. Thomas but chose Southwest to get from Northern to Southern CA. We wished Southwest flew to St. Thomas... the other airline had us late back to LA, their service was stuffy, we didn't even get a bag of peanuts (ha ha) and they just really did not feel make us feel welcome. When we arrived in LA and missed our Southwest flight, the amazing staff at Southwest booked us on the last flight of the evening. Everyone we encountered at Southwest that night was so nice and we felt 'back home' once aboard Southwest. This trip reminded us to not choose any other airline, we LUV Southwest Airlines!
Rose_Ann_Hall
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Happy Birthday! I always look forward to the flights I take because of the happy attitude and the "jokes" not to mention, the great service. Love you Rose Ann
Sam_Setser
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Southwest sure shortened a long distance relationship between Kentucky and Florida for several years with their low fares before we were finally married and settled into one area. Without Southwest, our relationship probably would not have survived. Apparently the management at Southwest is "top of the line."
Joe_Plicka
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Congratulations. I graduated from Saratoga (CA) High School in 1971, on about the same day SWA started operations, 40 years ago. I have been a long time admirer and customer and fan of SWA for as long as i can remember.
J_B_INGOLD
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It CAN'T be 40 years since I watched my first SWA flight arrive!! It probably was at LAX, although I'm not certain. Our Fokker F-27 taxied in on #2 engine, as #1 slowly came to a stop, and the co-pilot got off to go to the external baggage compartment on the rear left-hand side to hand luggage down to the baggage cart puller-guy. I believe it was a 10-minute turn-around, as we filed on, the door was pulled closed, and #1 was fired up again. I think we were told that SWA gained an extra flight (maybe two!) over airlines who didn't try so hard. Was that before peanuts and hot pants? Congratulations on 40 years! Bruce Ingold
Pete_G
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As long & loyal customer, congrats on 40 years, With great service and people its no wonder. Again, Happy Birthday !
candace_prossne
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As far as my husband and I are concerned there isn't a better airline out there. Flying SW is like being with family. The banter that goes on with the crew is so much fun I can't tell you how much we enjoy it. Everyone is terrific. Keep up the wonderful service and the great employees. We will continue to support you Happy Birthday Southwest candace
Maura_Linas
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In a family medical emergency, not only did SW find a way to get us on a flight that seemed to be full, they also gave us A Boarding passes so we could sit together. That's the type of service that builds customer loyalty. Thanks!!
Suzanne_Manley
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Congratulations Southwest Airlines. Like you, my husband and I have been together for 40 years and it truly is a milestone. You have helped us fly to see newborn grandchildren, share birthdays with children scattered all over the US and most of all, been an airline we have felt was safe, fun to fly, and everyone, including the pilots, crew, ground crew have always been friendly and helpful! Thanks for 40 years... Like our marriage it's been a great ride!
Lorraine_Duck
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Happy 40th. Birthday Southwest.....My husband & I spent our 40 th.anniversary on your plane 6 yrs. ago. You're sweet crew Wished us Happy Anniversary & gave us a free glass of Wine. Now we just celebrated our Big 46th. June 6th. We have flown here & there with you......many flights,especially since we live in Jacksonville, Fl. & we have Grandchildren in Louisville, Ky. (My little grandson would say, "Nana, you flying to me"?) You have two of our fine young friends who work for you from that Derby City,too. Thank You for flying us safe over the years. Happy Flying!
Steve_Aronson
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You are to be congratulated on your longevity and your success as a thriving entity. As we all know so well, your business model works and you remained profitable in trying times. Your flight crews are very customer focused and your safety and on-time records are the envy of many. No one is perfect, and the one downside of your achievements are your packed planes - leaving us feeling a bit like sardines. That being said, I will continue to fly Southwest whenever possible - and keep on serving the Lorna Doone cookies!
Diana_Morris
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I went back to college at the prime age of 48, and it took me almost 8 years, but I succeeded in getting my bachelor's degree. I received a GPA of 3.99, and I thank Southwest for that....why? As I working on a business degree, I had to do much research and writing on successful companies.....During my 8 years, I wrote many papers on the success, the culture, and the history of Southwest. Because of Southwest' rich and smart history - I always scored an "A" on all my Southwest work.....Thank you, Southwest. I remain your loyal customer. Congrats on 40 years of success!
Jan_Gates
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We haven't flown any other airlines since 2005. Ooops, except for a flight to San Juan with a buddy pass from a friend on JetBlue. So I have not paid for a flight on any airline except Southwest since 2005. And because we have a Southwest Visa card, we have never flown free on any other airline except Southwest. We consider that credit card just one of the family! Smiley Happy
Yvonne_T
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Well, I haven't flown SW for 40 years, but darn near close--32 years!!! My first flight ever was SW (San Antonio) to El Paso, 1979. Happy Birthday Southwest!! Love flying with you!!
Al_Hendricks
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I love flying Southwest. Never had a bad flight with you. One problem tho, I have to drive from Poughkeepsie to Albany to fly with you. PLEASE COME TO NEWBURGH!!
DeLean_Dixon
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not sure of the date but that was my first flight 40 years ago
Rick_Carreiro
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LOVE SouthWest1 Long ago I used tto fly PSA here in CA and then an incredible airline took over = SouthWest! I have a good sense of humor and would often joke back and forth with the flight(s) attendant(s) that were comics, either professional or amateur (me). Always a great time and I loved getting those drink coupon books for longer flights. But now even without any alcoholic beverages it is always a blast flying SouthWest. I live in San Jose, CA and I've always wanted to apply for a possible "summer crew" as I am an unemployed teacher during the summer months. Any opportunities available? It would be an honor and privilege to work for y'all (said with a Texas drawl ; > )
Carmen_Post
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Congrats on 40 years Southwest! As much as you luv the loyalty of your customers we luv the loyalty of SW! Thank you for standing strong and not insulting customer intelligence by disguising fare increases as "luggage fees". If fares must increase then so be it-just don't make us feel like we must make a choice of taking luggage with us or not! As Karson says in his blog, some things must change in order to keep up with an evolving industry. I remember when I first began flying Southwest for business in the mid 90's I enjoyed the lower fares but felt like cattle lining up to be herded on board to get an acceptabe seat! Thank God for the person who thought of the A,B,C boarding proceedure (which now has turned into the A,B,C, 1-60 boarding)! My dignity was restored! I currently live in New Orleans and Southwest is my #1 go to airline! Thank you Southwest for the great safety & on time record that you have as well as the talented & friendly crew & staff you employ! All my best for another 40+ years!
Jessica13
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Still going strong I see!
Rosie_Smith
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Congratulations Southwest! I'm celebrating 40 years with my company on July 25! Congratulations to EVERYONE celebrating a 40 year milestone!