WA-List » Airlines, Then and Now

Airlines, Then and Now

Published by Steve Campion. Category: Transportation

Drive to Sea-Tac Airport for an arrival or departure and you will see prominent signs steering you to the airline printed on your ticket.  The signs on the driveways identify which carriers have staked out space in the terminals behind each door.  Many of those signs advertise four or five airlines per entrance.  There’s nothing unusual about this; most modern international airports display the same wealth of airline names.

Thumbing through a 71 year old travel guide recently — don’t we live an exciting life? — we were reminded how different aviation was then.  All planes had propellers, of course.  There were no jets.  And Seattle-Tacoma International Airport itself didn’t exist in 1941.* Most passenger services were provided at King County Airport, a.k.a. Boeing Field.  But the most surprising difference was the remarkably shorter list of airlines in pre-World War II Seattle.  All the commercial airlines serving the city in 1941 would fit easily on just one of those modern Sea-Tac driveway signs.

Today’s WA-List is nothing more and nothing less than a fun side-by-side comparison of then and now.**

Air Canada
Air Canada Jazz
Air China
Air France
Air Tran
Alaska Airlines
All Nippon Airways
American Airlines
AMC (Air Mobility Command)
Asiana Airlines
British Airways
Charter Airlines
Delta Air Lines
Delta Connection
Frontier Airlines
Hainan Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines
Horizon Air
JetBlue Airways
Korean Air
Lufthansa Airlines
SkyWest Airlines
South African Airways
Southwest Airlines
Sun Country Airlines
United Airlines
United Express
US Airways
Virgin America

*Sea-Tac Airport started flights in 1947.  Northwest and Trans-Canada, both listed above, were its first two tenants.

**You might notice that Northwest and United appear on both lists. Ah, but so does Trans-Canada!  It morphed into Air Canada in 1965.  The only airline from the 1941 Seattle quartet that didn‘t survive to the present day was Pan Am, which permanently became history in 1991.

SOURCES: The 1941 list was derived from Washington: A Guide to the Evergreen State, the quintessential Depression-era travel guide written by the Writers’ Project of the Work Projects Administration (WPA).  We compiled the 2012 list from the Port of Seattle‘s website on Nov 13, 2012.

PHOTOS: (Left) A DC-3, the most popular passenger airplane of the era, in a 1943 photo.  (Right) A Boeing 787, in 2010.  Both photographs are in the public domain.


One Response to “Airlines, Then and Now”

  1. Joan Says:

    Aviation really has grown throughout the world with countries that barely had roads now having busy airports and their own airlines. Most fly Boeing aircraft.