Sunday, November 15, 2009

Continental Airlines Turns 75

As many of you longtime TransGriot readers know, I worked for CAL for 14 years during Frank Lorenzo's, Hollis Harris' and Gordon Bethune's tenures with the airline.

My grandfather spent 35 years working for CAL until he passed away in 1984. I started working there three years later and was working there when I transitioned. It wasn't unusual for me to be sporting stuff from the 'Proud Bird with the Golden Tail' as a kid and I still have a lot of stuff with the CAL logo on it.

During my recent trip to Bryn Mawr I flew the Philadelphia bound legs on Continental. I was reminded when I perused my drink napkin that this was the airline's 75th anniversary year.

I changed planes in Cleveland (sorry IAH). During my Cleveland layover and on the flight to Philadelphia I thought about all the wonderful people I worked with at IAH and elsewhere in the CAL system. Some of them I'm still blessed to call my friends and some I've only recently reconnected with.

And yeah, I miss the airline industry. My former co-workers over the last few weeks have let me know how much they miss me as well.

Back in the 80's and 90's it was a fun job at times to have. But there were the moments when I had the dreaded ATC delays that had me staying at Intercontinental until 1 AM in the morning or later cleaning up the backlogged flights or handling passenger problems.

I was also proud of being part of the rebirth of Continental's proud legacy. The Proud Bird slipped badly during the contentious Lorenzo era and had become one of the worst airlines in the industry. I was happy to part of the effort in the 90's to make it one of the best

I still pay attention to developments at CAL and in the airline industry. I've noticed since I left it has been a challenging time for all airlines and I've had my moments in which I'd wondered about where my life would be now if I were still there.

That musing led me to write a novel manuscript I titled 'On The Wings Of Love' which is loosely based on my CAL days. One of these days I'll get around to writing about some of my airline adventures and getting that novel published.

But just wanted to take a moment to say congrats to all the CAL folks I know, have known and who are no longer here who kept the 'Proud Bird' flying for 75 years.

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