Western Airlines was the first carrier to offer on-board television, the first to offer on-board typewriters for passenger use and the first to use conveyor belts to load and unload luggage.
Sounds like being on board was a lot of fun – Western also offered ‘active volcano’ punch cocktails on board flights to Hawaii and was famous for its commercials featuring William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy from Star Trek and actor and stand-up comedian Rodney Dangerfield.
It certainly seems to have lived up to its slogan as the 'o-o-only way to fly.'
As Western Air Express, the airline's first flight was in 1926 when it took off carrying mail from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City.
It began offering passenger services a month later, when the first commercial passenger flight took place with the then president of the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce and a companion perched atop U.S. mail sacks alongside pilot C.N. "Jimmy" James on his regular eight-hour mail delivery flight.
‘Western Airlines was born out of the same pioneering spirit that settled the American West,’ commented Jerry Greenstein, the airline’s chairman (and future chairman of Delta) when the carrier celebrated its 60th anniversary in 1986.
The airline operated in the western part of the United States including Alaska and Hawaii and western Canada and also flew to New York City, Boston, Washington DC, Miami, Mexico, London and Nassau in the Bahamas.
It merged with Delta in 1987.
Courtesy Private Collection.