Photo: Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines' legendary co-founder and long-time CEO Herb Kelleher passed away today at the age of 87.
A statement from the airline says, "Herb was a pioneer, a maverick, and an innovator. His vision revolutionized commercial aviation and democratized the skies. Herb's passion, zest for life, and insatiable investment in relationships made lasting and immeasurable impressions on all who knew him and will forever be the bedrock and esprit de corps of Southwest Airlines."
The Southwest Airlines story supposedly started in 1967 when Kelleher, a lawyer at the time, and Rollin King, a wealthy Texas entrepreneur sat down to dinner at a San Antonio restaurant and sketched out the airline's first triangular intra-Texas route map on a cocktail napkin. In 2007, the Dallas Morning News quoted King as saying the cocktail napkin route plan never happened, but that "it was a hell of a good story."
Nonetheless, in 1971 Southwest launched flying between the three cities on that imaginary triangle (Dallas, Houston and San Antonio). It used those routes as a the starting point to become what it is today: the leader in no-frills, low-fare, point-to-point flights and the largest US domestic airline in terms of passengers carried. It's also the largest airline in California.
See the slideshow at the top of this post for a look a Kelleher career and well-known antics
Southwest Airlines tweeted this today:
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said of Kelleher, "His vision for making air travel affordable for all revolutionized the industry, and you can still see that transformation taking place today. But his legacy extends far beyond our industry and far beyond the world of entrepreneurship."
Read more on A Farewell to Southwest's Founder on the airline's website.
How has the airline Herb created affected the way you travel? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
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