People Express: The world’s cheapest airline returns to the skies


The airline People Express,  became an iconic brand within 1980’s America. It reached its status by being one of the cheapest airlines to take flight, yet maintaining its promise that good service would remain.

The airline made a world first, when it began to charge add on fees to the flight price. It’s revolutionary system meant that passengers would now be given the choice to pay for extras such as in-flight meals.  The concept, which had never before been tested, paved the way for other low-cost airlines which decided to follow in its foot steps. At one point, the airline used a system which saw it behave more like a bus, taking money from passengers once they came  aboard.

The People Express created further opportunities for the general public to see the world. A flight from London to New York, for example, could cost as little as $149 (£89) one way.

It was popular, cheap, and promised to maintain a good service, so why exactly did it fail? Unfortunately, the airline which had started with so much promise, quickly turned into a joke, even managing to coin the nickname – ‘People Distress.’ After only seven years in business, the airline got bought out by Continental Airlines in 1987. The airline tried to expand too quickly, when it financially could not achieve success, it had become a ticking time bomb.

Despite its past, the airline is now back and ready to take on a new challenge. People Express Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Erickson has said, “the original airline really was embraced by their travelers because they not only did low fares, but they did low fares with excellent customer service and really developed a passion for—and respect and caring for—their travelers. And we would like to do the same thing 25 years later.”

Erickson now lives in hope that the airline will be given a boost back into the market by those who once shared fond memories of traveling with the company. However, they shall have to be reminded that its once famous name, will only take it so far, given that it has been more than two decades since it originally took flight.

 [Picture: Lyn Alweis/The Denver Post via Getty Images]

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