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The Biggest Little Airline: Tribute To Reno Air  
User currently offlineMatt D From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 9502 posts, RR: 47
Posted (11 years 10 months 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 4998 times:

I miss Reno Air. This was an airline that was needlessly whored out by its final CEO. To be fair, they did make some tactical errors (The Gulf Coast routes, for example), but they could've been a great airline.

I remember first hearing of Reno Air back in summer of 1992, when USA Today newspaper featured a story about them. The story was accompanied by a picture of Jeff Erickson standing underneath the tail of an MD-80. I saw my very first QQ plane at LAX in November of 1992. Shortly thereafter, they came to my [then] hometown airport, ONT.

For the next few years after that, Reno Air was the airline I watched most closely. I was always excited to see them. I collected whatever memorabilia I could. And I thought it was a "rush" when, on evening, they had TWO planes parked out at ONT. Up until then, I had never seen more than one plane at a time.

Then, in April of 1994, I took my very first flight in 9 years:

Yep, a Reno Air flight.

Now this flight was special to me in many ways. First, of course, it was my first flight since PSA in 1985. Second, it was the first time I had flown out of ONT. Third, it was my first trip to a place that I had not already been to via car before: Reno. And lastly, and perhaps most importantly: My [then] girlfriend went with me on the journey. It was the best three days I had in a long time. It was truly a special journey for me. Plus, I saw where Reno Air may have gotten its three mountain tail logo:

When standing in the parking lot at Cannon International, facing southwest towards Lake Tahoe, there are, indeed, three mountains, closely resembling those painted on the tails!

A year later, in 1995, I took a second trip to Reno via the same routing, which ironically, involved the same aircraft as the 1994 trip: N834RA up, and N834RA on the way down. However, this was a solo flight. But both times, the service was great. The people friendly, and the flights were on time.

Reno Air, for all the love I felt for them, was constantly adding and dropping citis to its route map: MSP, MCI, PHX, OKC, ONT, just to name a few. Whenever I picked up a copy of their latest timetable, I always turned to the route map first to see what was new and what was gone. Almost every issue held something new. I'm sure that this did nothing to enhance their survival odds.

Speaking of timetables, I remember the May 1996 issue I picked up at LAX one day, and it had a picture of the Orange County Flyer MD-90 printed on it. Since I was not [yet] hooked up to the Internet, I didn't know it was coming. So it took me by surprise. I jumped right on the 405 and went down to SNA to see it and maybe get a picture of it. I was not disappointed.

Speaking of picture disappointments, the one plane that refused to cooperate with me was the MD-87. I believe they took delivery of 5 of them, back in early 1995. Although I made countless efforts to get a picture, I did not get what I felt was a decent shot of that plane until 1998. The sun was not right. The nose cone was the unpainted one. It went down the 'other' taxiway. You name it. This plane stubbornly eluded me for a long time. But, eventually, I nailed it.

I have more Reno Air related items than any other airline. I have models, every timetable from November 1992 all the way until the 1999 merger. Keychains, coffee mugs, a glass cup, pogs, patches, luggage tags, and "One Year Service Anniversary bumper stickers are just part of my QQ collection.

I remember when I first heard of American Airlines proposal to buy out Reno Air. At first, I was upset about it. But then later on, it didn't surprise me: Reno took over AA's SJC hub. They were linked to AA's frequent flyer program. They took over much of AA's abandoned AirCal west coast network. I figured that during the boom times of the late 90's, it was only a matter of time before AA wanted all of that stuff back.

Well, they went after it.

The pending merger went on for about 6 months. For a little while there, it looked like it might not happen. There was a lot of dissent among the AA pilots regarding the incorporation of QQ and Seniority lists and all. But somehow, those issues were worked out and the merger moved forward.

In spring of 1999, many billboard advertisements started appearing in the areas adjacent to LAX and LAS with Reno Air logos and the caption "Change Is In The Air". Of course I knew that this referred to the fact that Reno Air was about to be changed into American.

About a month before the actual changeover occurred, the Reno Air planes stated changing: Tails were "missing" the three mountain motif. Titles were painted over. I made a trip to SNA and saw an MD-90 that indeed had NOTHING on it: It was all white. No other markings; the only clue as to what it was was the "RA" registration number.

It was at that point I made a descision to fly to SJC (another first for me) to get as many pictures of them in the various transition liveries as possible. The first time I went, it was gray and overcast. I hopped on the next plane right back to ONT. The second time, a week later was the charm. Perfect sunshine. About 5 rolls of film shot. That trip could be the subject of a report all its own. But I got everything I had hoped for.

Reno Air finally commenced operations as American Airlines on August 31, 1999. It was a sad day for me and probably many other people as well. The way AA handled that transition was, in my opinion, a disgrace to the fine people and the legacy of Reno Air:

All of their print ads and radio spots touted all of Americans "new" service in the west. To my knowledge and recollection, no reference to "Reno Air is Now American" was ever given. They were just quietly swept under the rug, and rebranded.

Shortly thereafter, all of the former Reno Air planes started sporting tinly little AA stickers. Not even full blown "hybrids". The impression I got was that American was embarrassed about Reno Air, and didn't want to be too widely associated with them. The planes were later repainted in all white livery a-la American Eagle.

American, showing its knack for killing off competition, soon closed the Reno Hub, totally realigned the West Coast routes, and eliminated frequencies out of many markets.

By the time September 11 rolled around, all traces of this once great big little airline were gone. No routes. No planes. Nothing to remind us of what they were.

Reno Air:

We'll always remember you

"The Biggest Little Airline In The World"

"Winning The West Over"

"Discover A Better Low Fare Airline"



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16 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineSkyymarc From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 86 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (11 years 10 months 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 4911 times:

Thanks Matt D for the tribute.

As a former RenoAir FA I sorely miss those days.

I started as a CSA in SEA and then transferred to Inflight, GPT base. Your assertion that the GPT routes were not the best choice they made is probably true but they sure were fun to work and popular with many avid gamblers from the cities we served which were ATL, SFD and PIE.

When the decision to close GPT came it was a sad day. I toyed with the idea of transferring back to the west coast but I had layed down roots in ATL and decided to work for AirTran which was hiring like crazy in '98 when I left RenoAir. Initially I regretted my decision when I heard that AA was taking over Reno but I certainly don't now because times are great at AirTran. I don't think it is a coincidence that AirTran chose to emulate RenoAir by offering upgrades to Business Class similar to Reno's First Class.

RenoAir did it in style. "Great Land Flyer" service to Alaska was awesome and really did give Alaska Air a run for their money. Customer were very loyal to us, especially AAdvantage members who could us and get mileage and upgrades. Some of our walkup fares really blew people away, such as our walk up fare from SEA to ORD on the evening flight was at one $150 one way. Our aircraft were truely attractive with the green and silver. You may remember the beautiful cabin dividers that were installed on the aircraft depicting snow covered mountains. I could go on and on but customers and employees alike were very pleased with RenoAir and it's unfortunate that the airline is gone.

I will surely miss the people and those beautiful airplanes. RenoAir was certainly special and like a family.

RenoAir Forever.


User currently offlineSearpqx From Netherlands, joined Jun 2000, 4344 posts, RR: 10
Reply 2, posted (11 years 10 months 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 4884 times:

My partner worked as a CSA for Reno in SEA right up until the end. I was in res over at QX, so after my shift I'd walk down to SeaTac and hang out in the office until he got off/cashed out. There was always a sense of excitement and energy in that office. Those guys worked hard but had fun doing it. Whenever we non-reved to California, we took QQ instead of AS, they were easier to get on and the flights were just plain fun.

Duane



"The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity"
User currently offlineExitrowaisle From United States of America, joined May 2000, 264 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (11 years 10 months 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 4857 times:

For Reno Air enthusiasts, I suggest you visit

http://pw1.netcom.com/~flyqq/

Pictures of the entire fleet, including transition liveries. A very nice site.

Matt D, maybe you should do a Reno Air tribute site! History, photos, memorabilia, etc. There are already great ones on airlines like PSA and Hughes Airwest.

I remember when Reno Air flew here to Tucson. In fact, a local club still had one of their advertising banners up long after they became AA!


User currently offlineUnited777 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 1657 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (11 years 10 months 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 4846 times:

Thanks for that Matt. I also miss Reno Air. It was a very good airline. Had pretty good flights from Seattle too to the Bay Area. Didn't they have SEA-SNA non-stop flights too?

User currently offlineSkyymarc From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 86 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (11 years 10 months 1 day ago) and read 4804 times:

Thanks United777 for RenoAir website link.

I'm enjoying it now.

Does anyone know what happened to www.renoair.com? A year or two ago just on a lark I entered that to see what would happen and it directed me to a RenoAir tribute site. It has since disappeared. Any ideas?



User currently offlineOuboy79 From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 4616 posts, RR: 23
Reply 6, posted (11 years 10 months 20 hours ago) and read 4743 times:

I will agree with most here...I miss RenoAir as well. Flew them a couple times on the OKC-LAS runs mainly in late February to go blow some cash on my birthday. Once the change over to AA happened, the spark that the FAs and crew had completely vanished. I actually interviewed for a ramp position at AA in OKC that opened up due to the take over - but AOL cut me a better deal.

I will always remember the nagging I got from a male FA about my US Airways hat that I had on and how he wouldn't serve me unless I took it off. Eventually he caved and gave me my snack box and beverage...but it was all in fun - then again, he was probably hitting on me? LOL


User currently offlineBR715-A1-30 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (11 years 10 months 15 hours ago) and read 4664 times:

Thanks for the tribute Matt D., But why you gotta be dissin' the Gulf Coast like dat.

User currently offlineEIPremier From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1550 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (11 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 4555 times:

I have very fond memories of my flights with QQ. When I was still a UM, they treated me like a king, and there wasn't even a "UM fee" like many airlines charge today. They always moved me up to an available First Class seat, even though I only paid for coach. And while they didn't serve meals, they often served a nice snack up in First Class. I remember being served a meal in First Class on 45 minute dinner-hour flights between LAX and SJC. And the upgrades to First were originally only $20.

Those were the days!


User currently offlineSjc>sfo From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (11 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 4544 times:

Who knows... with the apparent demise of UA, and the generally shaken state of most of the other airlines, we may yet see a RenoII start up out of SFO... if AS doesn't get there first.

User currently offlineYyz717 From Canada, joined Sep 2001, 16367 posts, RR: 56
Reply 10, posted (11 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 4543 times:

Whenever I flew ID75 (or maybe ID90) with QQ, they would always bump me up to first. Very classy little airline.

QQ had built up a successful mini-hub at Reno (and also San Jose). AA quickly dismantled the Reno hub and then got rid of the entire QQ fleet. Makes you wonder why AA bought them in the first place.

It's small airlines like QQ that keep the big guys honest, and there are far too few "QQ"s around.

Neil




Panam, TWA, Ansett, Eastern.......AC next? Might be good for Canada.
User currently offlineBR715-A1-30 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (11 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 4495 times:

Makes you wonder why AA bought them in the first place.

Your answer is right here.

It's small airlines like QQ that keep the big guys honest. AA doesn't want any QQs around messing up their plans.

An analogy for this would be.

Would the Robber want a cop standing right there whenever he was about to rob the joint.



User currently offlineApathoid From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (11 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 4478 times:

As a passenger who has to suffer the AS stranglehold on the ANC-SEA routes, I miss Reno Air dearly. Great customer service. First class upgrades everytime I flew non-rev. Once I asked for a bereavment fare because my wife's grandmother had died and she wanted to go to the funeral. They graciously gave us both the fare so I could go with my wife. And, put us in first class for no additional charge. I wish they would come back.

User currently offlineOuboy79 From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 4616 posts, RR: 23
Reply 13, posted (11 years 9 months 4 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 4433 times:

Anyone want to pool funds together to buy the Reno name back from AA and give her a second chance?  Big grin

User currently offlineFlygga From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (11 years 9 months 4 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 4397 times:

Hey Matt, Dont forget about Reno Air Express.........


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User currently offlineFlyboy80 From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 1880 posts, RR: 3
Reply 15, posted (11 years 9 months 4 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 4372 times:

I'm young, 15, And I still have memories of Reno Air. I can remember being somewhere around 6,7 or 8ish and standing at the observation pull over at PDX (Portland, Oregon) and watching oh say a DC-10 from UA come down in a beautiful evening light, Delta L-10-11s seeming to float of the ground on takeoff. And at times I would think I would see an Alaska Airlines aircraft taxing in preperation to take off, well as it got closer I would immediately notice and shout to my Mother, "Mom its that one with the moutains on the tail!" well I was getting to read pretty good by then, but then she just calmly said, "thats Reno Air Bri" and I thought hmmmm Reno air. Never knew much about them but I still liked em! I so wish they were here today! I got to visit Reno once, was a enjoyable city at that, and yes indeed, it is the Biggest Little Citty in the world. Had the biggest little hub in the world. And of course, The Biggest Little AIrline In The World, Reno Air.

User currently offlineAA2MM From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 121 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (11 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 4320 times:

I was on an AA flt from SJC to LAX , their last day of operation then..made
$600 in DBC . And I would be flying QQ almost once a week , for the next
4 years 7 months . Most of the time , collecting double miles on QQ , and
double miles on AA . They allowed the FFs to double dip !!
Sure was nice to upgrade on QQ with AA stickers then .
I did get to know a few of the FAs by face and most of the gate agents
on both ends . Sure miss the little airline : QQ even took me from LA to
ORD via RNO round trip once , in FC .


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