Disneyworld: Another Era
Although Walt Disney died in 1966, Roy saw to it that his brother’s dream was realized.
But to get to Florida, be it Miami, Fort Lauderdale or Orlando, you most likely flew on Eastern Airlines, at a time when flying was often a much anticipated adventure and, for many millions of people, a ‘first’ time experience.
Remember? You probably dressed nicely, you had a paper airline ticket that your travel agent painstakingly hand-wrote, you looked forward to the meal service – real plates and cutlery – and, in First Class, a choice of meals and complimentary wines. But most memorable were the greetings and the smiles … But that was a while ago and a different time.
Whatever happened to Eastern Airlines? It’s quite a story …
Just before Walt Disney World opened in 1971, Eastern Airlines established service at Orlando and became the official airline of Walt Disney World. This proved to be extremely beneficial for Eastern as well as Disney. It remained the official airline of Walt Disney World, which even had an Eastern-themed ride at its park (If You Had Wings).
Eastern Air Lines was a major United States airline that existed from 1926 to 1991, headquartered at Miami International Airport in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Eastern Air Lines was a composite of assorted airlines, including Florida Airways and Pitcairn Aviation, the latter of which was established April 19, 1926, by Harold Frederick Pitcairn, son of Pittsburgh Plate Glass founder John Pitcairn, Jr. In 1929 Clement Keys, the owner of North American Aviation purchased Pitcairn. In 1930, Keys changed the company’s name to Eastern Air Transport, soon to be known as Eastern Air Lines after being purchased by General Motors.
In 1938, the airline was purchased by World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker from General Motors. This very complex deal was concluded when Rickenbacker presented Alfred P. Sloan with a certified check for $3.5 million. Rickenbacker pushed Eastern into a period of prodigious growth and innovation. For a time, Eastern was the most profitable airline in the post-war era, never needing state subsidies.
In the late 1950s, Eastern’s position was eroded by state subsidies to rival airlines, increasing industry regulation and the arrival of the jet age. Rickenbacker’s position as CEO was taken over on October 1, 1959 by Malcolm MacIntyre, ‘a brilliant lawyer but a man inexperienced in airline operations’. His ouster was due largely to his reluctance to acquire jets, feeling that they were unnecessary and expensive. (Can you imagine!?) A new management team took over operations, and Rickenbacker left his position as Chairman of the Board.
By the 1950s, Eastern’s aircraft were prominent up and down the East Coast of the United States. In 1956, the airline purchased Canadian airline Colonial Airlines, which provided the airline their first service to Canada.
In November 1959 Eastern Airlines opened Terminal 1 at New York City’s Idlewild International Airport (Later renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport). In 1960 Eastern’s first jets, Douglas DC-8-21s, began longer flights, like non-stop from Chicago and New York to Miami. Shortly after a new image was adopted, which included the now famous hockey stick logo.
On April 30, 1961 Eastern inaugurated the Eastern Air Shuttle, featuring hourly Lockheed Constellations (and later Electras, DC-9s and 727s) between New York LaGuardia, Washington, D.C. National, and Boston Logan airports.
The groundbreaking service emphasized convenience and simplicity – revolutionary in an era when air travel was both considered and expected to be a luxury. Eastern guaranteed availability and planes flew hourly whether empty or full. In the event of a full flight, Eastern simply added another aircraft. The shuttle proved one of Eastern’s most successful ventures. Other airlines, including Pan American World Airways, eventually attempted competing services.
Eastern Air Shuttle’s landing rights and some aircraft were bought by Trump Airlines to run the Trump Shuttle. US Airways later bought the service from Trump Airlines, and respectively named it US Airways Shuttle. Pan Am’s shuttle service was bought by
Delta Air Lines to become the Delta Shuttle, which directly competes with the US Airways Shuttle.
Internationalization began as Eastern opened routes to new markets such as Santo Domingo and Nassau. Services from San Juan, Puerto Rico’s Luis Mu