Thursday, March 26, 2009


It was a tremendous idea. You could fly from Newark (which is actually closer to Manhattan than John F. Kennedy International Airport) to Los Angeles for almost nothing. Prices for this route would range from $29.95 (if you didn't mind flying in the middle of the week at 3:00 AM) to $149.95 for a normal day flight. Checked baggage was $3.00 per item (they were the first airline to make this charge.

Then there was the menu. Food service was not free. A can of soda pop was 50 cents. A brownie was 50 cents. Even a bag of peanuts was 50 cents. It was not unusual to see passengers bring lunchboxes on board.
One of the secrets to how this airline was able to do things so inexpensively was that fares were collected in the air. There was a cashier at the terminal who checked that passengers had cash or valid credit cards (with enough money on them). Then these were collected once the plane leveled out.
Known as Greyhound of the air, PEOPLExpress's terminal at Newark (New Jersey) International Airport looked like a Post House in the middle of the United States.
The airline started in 1981 and was bought out by Continental Airline in 1987. It didn't go broke, as some folks may have thought. This was an idea that worked but it had the competitors scared to death!

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