Southwest Airlines Prides Itself on Being the 'Love Airline'

From low fares and hot pants to America's favorite economy carrier

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In February of 1973, The New York Times reported a story out of Texas known as the “$13 war.” It pitted the magisterial Braniff International Airways against a scrappy upstart called Southwest. In essence, Braniff was ticked off because its fares were set by the Civil Aeronautics Board, whereas those of Southwest—which had three planes that flew only in Texas—were not. Braniff’s fare from Dallas to Houston was $26. Southwest charged $13. Southwest had perks, too: a free bottle of liquor for passengers who chose to pay the full $26 fare, for instance, and “love flights” crewed by young female attendants sporting tangerine hot pants.

Say what you want, but this sort of maneuvering eventually paid off.

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This story first appeared in the August 2023 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.