5 unusual airlines that really existed
(CNN) — In the late 1970s, the US government deregulated the airline industry, removing federal control over fares, routes, and the entry of new airlines into the market.
As a result, a wave of new airlines appeared from the 1980s, and some of them were particularly unusual. We’ll take a look.
Dog theft: Alyse Tognotti of Pet Airways prepares a canine passenger for her trip.
Founded in 2009 in Delray Beach, Florida, Pet Airways was an airline dedicated exclusively to companion animals such as cats and dogs – or pawsengers, as they called them.
They flew, without their owners, in the main cabin of specially adapted aircraft in which the seats had been replaced by aircraft carriers.
Each plane could carry about 50 pets, with “pet attendants” checking on them every 15 minutes. Before taking off, the animals were given a pre-flight walk and a toilet break in specially designed airport lounges.
The airline operated for about two years, serving a dozen US cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago and Atlanta. Fees started at $150 and could go up to $1,200 depending on the size of the animal.
However, its website is still active and a message reads “Flights to Commence, Post Covid, Hopefully Mid-2022”, suggesting there may be a second life on the horizon for the pet airline.
Spin off: ‘Hooters girl’ Hillary Vinson, front, tends to passengers on a 2003 flight.
Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images
In 2002 Robert Brooks, president of the Hooters restaurant chain, acquired Pace Airlines, a charter carrier with a fleet of eight planes, mostly Boeing 737s. ‘after the restaurant chain.
Its distinction was, besides the design of the bright orange livery with a wide-eyed owl, that two so-called “Hooters girls” were on board, mingling with passengers and holding quizzes with gimmicky prizes – wearing the same “uniform” orange tank-and-shorts popularized by restaurants.
However, they did not serve food or take care of onboard duties, as these were performed by three FAA-certified flight attendants.
The airline was based in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, a vacation mecca known for its golf courses and resorts, which had lost direct air traffic in the general restructuring of commercial aviation after 9/11. .
Due to its economical fares and direct connections to cities like Atlanta, Newark and Baltimore, Hooters Air has attracted passengers of all kinds – primarily golfers and tourists, but also families.
However, he never managed to make any money and went out of business in early 2006, due to rising fuel prices in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The Lord’s Airline
A wing and a prayer: The Lord’s Airline plane at Miami International Airport in August 1988.
The plan was to have three weekly flights from Miami to Ben Gurion Airport in Israel, providing a direct route to Jerusalem, about 30 miles away.
By 1987, however, the airline had failed to qualify for an FAA license due to modifications and unfinished maintenance work on the aircraft. Investors grew nervous and fired Marshall, installing a new board to get things done.
The new president, Theodore Lyszczasz disagreed with Marshall, and the two began bickering in the press.
Smokers Express and SmintAir
Smoke and mirrors: a model of a ‘Smintair’ aircraft. The true version never materialized.
Karlheinz Schindler/picture alliance/dpa/AP
The FAA banned smoking on all domestic flights in the United States in 1990, but William Walts and George Richardson, two contractors from Brevard County, Florida, weren’t happy about it. In early 1993, they decided to circumvent the rule by creating a private club-based airline. It required a $25 membership fee and was only open to people over 21.
The airline was to be based at Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, Florida, and the plan was to offer steaks and burgers on board with a side of free cigarettes.
Schoppmann, who smoked 30 cigarettes a day, wanted to start a daily service between Tokyo and Düsseldorf, his hometown, which is home to a large number of Japanese expatriates and the European offices of hundreds of Japanese companies.
Both countries still had significant numbers of smokers at the time. However, SmintAir suffered the same fate as Smokers Express: it failed to raise the capital needed to start operations and never took to the air.
MGM Grand Air
Inaugurated in 1987, MGM Grand Air was a first-class, luxury airline that initially covered a single route – LAX to JFK – using Boeing 727s and Douglas DC-8s in lavish configurations: the rule was that no flights could not have carried more than 33 passengers, although aircraft could carry 100 or more in standard configurations.
The airline promised no queuing, no check-in and no waiting for luggage – porters took luggage on the plane and delivered it to destination – and even offered door-to-door limo service optional. Special lounges at both airports offered luxury amenities and concierge service.
On board there were five flight attendants and a standing bar, as well as private compartments for meetings. Full meal service with fine wine and champagne was always available and the toilets had gold taps and monogrammed soap. All of this was offered at little more than the price of a first class ticket on other airlines.
Initially popular with celebrities and the very wealthy, MGM Grand Air eventually opened more routes but struggled to fill all 33 seats on its planes.
Operations slowed in the 1990s as private jets became more widespread, and in 1995 the airline was sold and changed its name to Champion Air, offering charter flights to sports teams and government agencies. It finally closed completely in 2008.
Top image: A Hooters plane arrives at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, April 3, 2003. Credit: Matthew Peyton/Getty Images