Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Western Airlines - The Only Way To Fly

A nifty airline that didn’t survive deregulation. Was merged with Delta.  Gave me a ride I’ll never forget.

1970’s, Salt Lake City to Denver (Stapleton) on a 727-200. Hot summer day in both SLC and Denver. We were an hour late leaving SLC while the mechanics worked on #3. My seat was in the extreme rear, aisle, starboard side where I could smoke.

Right about the Meeker VOR, the pilots shut down #3.

( I knew the area well as the Meeker VOR was the closest to where I learned to fly. I took my  Private check ride in Meeker)

No problem, we still had two, correct? Coming into Stapleton I was mildly worried because we were using 26L which was unusual. Between Colorado Boulevard and Syracuse Avenue, the crew shut down #2 (centerline) and went full power on the remaining engine. One engine at a density altitude of around 10,000’ ain’t keeping a fully loaded 727-200 in anything but a controlled descent.

We landed in the pea gravel just short of the runway. The noise was very loud. When we hit the end of the runway we bounced abruptly then came down hard.

After that it was just a taxi into the terminal.

In the final minute of the approach, I had bent over and wrapped my hands around my knees. To my rear I could see one of the cabin attendants in the exit door jump seat doing the same.

Two days later flew Western back to SLC. Hey, shit happens, and any one you can walk away from……..

One other unpleasant  Western memory. Before overhead enclosed bins most airliners had open shelving. Only soft goods were allowed. We were boarding and I put my heavy briefcase on the shelf (knowing it had to go under the seat in front of me) and sat down in my aisle seat so others around me could get settled in.  The cabin attendant came by and said heatedly,

“That has to go under the seat,”  

as she dropped it from head height directly on my crotch. Guess she was having a bad day. Probably didn’t get better. When I got off the plane in Denver I went directly to the station manager, who I knew personally, and had a wee chat with him.

I always liked Western and, with these two exceptions, had generally good experiences. Hate to be negative but my best experience with Delta is one notch above mediocre. 


  1. All commercial airlines are the same. They have good days and bad days, good stewardesses and bad stewardesses, sober pilots and drunk pilots. The brand name on the side of the aircraft is virtually irrelevant.

    I have had bad experiences on almost all airlines except one: Lufthansa. Flew them about 10 times, give or take, all of them were flawless, polite personnel and timely.

    Never flown Quantas, just like Rain Man.

    1. Back in the 70's I flew around the Pacific NW on Hughes Air West (the yellow banas). Great little airline. I find Alaska tolerable. For whatever reason have never flown Southwest.

  2. Never had the pleasure of Western, but Delta sucks rocks!!!

    1. I avoid Delta, and I avoid Atlanta. My big butt requires a seat belt extender on Airbus' so I try to fly on a Boeing or the MD-80 family.

      90% of my trips in recent years have been three hours or less. The trips you had to take would have crippled me.

    2. Yep, Airbus' seats aren't built for anything but Eurobutts... :-)

  3. Delta used to be the No 1 airline in the world. Then they got an ego and wend downhill faster than the Hindenburg gas bag.