MSYtristar From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 2529 times:
I flew MSY-MCO on a Muse Air MD-80 and a week later when we came back home the airline had officially changed to TranStar, so we got on one of those beautiful TranStar M80's on the way home. Of course, I was about 7 at the time, so I don't remember much from the flights. Muse/TranStar always had pretty large operations in New Orleans.
RL757PVD From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 4928 posts, RR: 11
Reply 5, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 2496 times:
A very sad day for aviation, he was a great guy. I had the pleasure of picking him up at MCO and driving him to ERAU a few years back where he spoke to some students. Just the fact that i had such an aviation legend in my car, and just listening to all the amazing stories that he had and his views on the industry is something I will not soon forget.
May he rest in peace
Experience is what you get when what you thought would work out didn't!
TxAgKuwait From United States of America, joined Aug 1999, 1803 posts, RR: 40
Reply 7, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 2289 times:
You can't say it's a shame.....a man of 86 years who has lived life to the fullest and succeeded beyond one's wildest dreams....who, in the process, made a lot of people rich. I guess you can say it's sad to see him go, it's true that he is seldom recognized for everything he did for the airline industry.
We can also say that it'll be a helluva long time before the airline industry sees anyone else like Lamar.
I'll share a few memories that might not have gotten captured in the news articles.
Lamar was a very soft-spoken individual...so soft-spoken, in fact, that it was sometimes difficult to hear what he was saying. Many times, especially if you were a subordinate who had not accomplished what Lamar thought you should have...what he was saying (when you finally heard it) would curl your hair, cause insomnia, and curdle milk at 100 yds. A nice way to phrase it would be to say Lamar had a way with words, and could cuss someone in very low tones but there was never any doubt that you had been verbally ripped to shreds.
Lamar always thought of his employees as his team, and it bothered him somewhat when they organized.....not that he was opposed to unionism per se, but he always hated a union getting in the way between him and his people. As a result, he always wanted to make sure that the employee groups that did not organize got better pay and benefits than those who voted in a union.
After the $13 war, when loads were getting bigger and better by the minute....one Sunday Lamar and his late wife Juanice flew in to Love Field and noticed that the gates were crowded, the employees were unbelievably busy...so they went home, made up a whole bunch of food, and brought it to the break room. A nice gesture, nothing outrageous....but stop and think about the last time you heard of an Airline CEO and his wife personally cooking up a bunch of food, with no prior planning or announcement, in order to make sure the employees got a bite to eat on their lunch break.
The profit sharing plans that Lamar put in to place ensured that all of the early employees...not just pilots and execs....but the rez agents, cabin cleaners, skycaps, everyone.......walked away millionaires after 25 yrs or so. Millionaires. Millionaire sykcaps.
Lamar argued for years that his board room challenge / showdown that led to his departure from Southwest had nothing to do with his desire to install his son Mike as his heir apparent as Prez/CEO at Southwest...but most of us who were around will always believe that was the root of the problem. And while Mike is an okay guy......those of us who were around will tell you that the kid he should have put in charge was his daughter Debbie.
Lamar was working for Trans-Texas Airways when they decided they had to have some aircraft to replace their aging (and less attractive to passengers) DC-3s. They decided to try and buy some Convair 240s used from American. Earl McKaughan, president of TTa, told Lamar to try and get them down to $250K apiece (can you imagine buying airlines for $250K)? If I have the story straight, Lamar negotiated American down to a price of $225K or so, and told American it was a deal. He then called Houston, only to be told that wasn't good enough, squeeze another $10K or so apiece out of American. Having made a deal, and then getting back doored by the company the way he did was why Lamar left Trans Texas.
He was hired at Central to try and salvage a sinking ship. Central had the worst routes, worst airplanes, worst service, and worse reputation of any of the local service airlines. When two of your really good stations are Lawton, Oklahoma and Fort Smith, Arkansas that ought to tell you something. Lamar got ahold of Central, beat it in to shape.....tried as clever a pricing scheme as the CAB would let him get away with (fly anywhere on Central for the regular price and fly back home for $10)..and within a few months had it more profitable than any of the other local service carriers. Then the people who hired him to save the airline sold it out from under him to Frontier, in the process octupling their investment. Imagine...800% return on your investment in two years.
Southwest is often thought of as Herb's airline, and you can't really diminish the fact that Kelleher took what Lamar handed him and managed to not "F" it up. Most executives would have messed it up immensely. But let's not, for one second, think that there would ever have been a Southwest Airlines had it not been for Lamar.
A couple of quick anecdotes for now.....I am reminded of when Lamar, in Austin, got the news on a Thursday afternoon that Southwest had received approval to start flying in and out of Harlingen...their first expansion outside the original three cities. He snuck off to a phone booth, called the VP-Ground Ops, and asked in a whisper if it would be possible to start service by Monday or Tuesday. Lamar was afraid Texas International would find a sympathetic judge to grant a restraining order. A measure of how loyal Lamar's folks were---the VP himself and the Dallas Station Manager loaded up a pickup with everything they could think of that they might need to open a station, left Dallas about 8 that night, rolled in to Harlingen Friday morning, and spent the next 72 hrs setting up a station. The first flight arrived from Houston, IIRC, on Monday morning at 9:20 am. The VP was the only one who passed the FAA's weather observer test on the first try, so he had to spend the week in Harlingen until they could train some folks and get them certified to take weather observations. When Southwest inaugurated service to Midland/Odessa and Lubbock the same day (5/20/77?) Lamar was supposed to ride the 7:30 am LBB to DAL, then catch the 8:30 DAL to MAF so he could be at both locations for the inaugural festivities. Well, fog in Dallas kept the 6:25 to LBB (which turned the 7:30 flight back) on the ground so ultimately Lamar hopped in rent car and headed for Midland/Odessa at about 100 mph (in that era of 55 mph speed limits), picking up 3 speeding tickets along the way.
Lamar's motto for the airline industry, which so few pay any attention to, was "feed the rich and grow poor, feed the poor and grow rich."
KELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6833 posts, RR: 3
Reply 8, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 2270 times:
Sad day for aviation in the Lone Star State...
I can remember flying around the state with my folks at age 10, and seeing Braniff and Muse Air on almost every ramp (from behind the window on WN, of course ) : SAT, DAL, LBB, AUS...how colorful aviation was in 1982 in my home state, and how the "characters" (Lamar Muse amongst them) made it that way too
Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
Cairo From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 2119 times:
MuseAir was a fine airline which basically eliminated the complaints people had with WN's service style, while maintaining their fun atmosphere. Think of it as something of a precursor to the jetBlue concept.
Back in those days, the oil boom in Texas was on, and lots of airline deals were centered there. Places like MAF or BRO were seeing mainline-sized planes from multiple carriers.
Texas International, Southwest, Braniff, Continental, MuseAir, TranStar, Texas Air, Royale & Metro were some of the names active in this part of the hyperactive period in Texas airline activity ...late 70s/early 80s.
Iahflyr From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 4790 posts, RR: 21
Reply 15, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days ago) and read 1887 times:
I never got to fly Muse Air but flew TranStar quite a few times, always had great trips with their DC9-50's or MD82's. Very sad day indeed for Texas Aviation.....the Governor should declare a day of mourning for all Texas Airports. Best wished to the family and RIP Lamar!
Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
SeeTheWorld From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 1335 posts, RR: 4
Reply 16, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 1843 times:
Thanks for the stories. It was like reading another chapter of Lamar's book, Southwest Passage. I was fortunate enough to have Lamar send me a signed copy of his book six months ago after he found 13 of them stored in his house somewhere. While the book is out of print, if any of you can locate a copy, it's a great read.
As Lamar makes his final flight West (or train ride, which he always preferred), we can be thankful, as aviation junkies, for what he did for the industry.
Drerx7 From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 5392 posts, RR: 8
Reply 17, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 1827 times:
I flew on Transtar MSY-HOU, my dad use to have architectual projects all over Texas and he use to love Muse/Transtars MD80s. I'd say they were a cross between Southwest and Midwest. A real classy operation from what I remember.
JayDavis From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 2000 posts, RR: 14
Reply 18, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 1744 times:
I actually bought stock in Muse Air when it first came out for $17.50 a share, thinking I would make a gold mine in it. Obviously, that didn't happen. I think WN finally bought it for $5 or $3 a share, plus some warrants. I flew them a number of times between DAL and HOU, DAL and LBB and DAL and MAF. Excellent airline. Reserved seating, all leather seats and non-smoking !!
The man is/was a genius. I too have his book, Southwest Passage. Makes for some real interesting reading. Rollin King, even though he came up with the concept for Southwest Airlines, owes a TON of gratitude to Lamar Muse for making Mr. King so stinking wealthy. As TxAg points out, there was a time when Mr. Muse wanted his son to be president, but my understanding was he wanted Mike to be president of Midway Southwest. Southwest was going to start up another airline at MDW, way before the other Midway Airlines got off the ground. King and others didn't think Mike was qualified. That is the story I got. Yet, in Lamar's book, it seemed like Rollin King tried to "micro-manage" Lamar and I just don't see that being a smart idea. Sadly, Lamar Muse and his HUGE contributions to the success of Southwest largely go unnoticed and that is a shame !!
One of the most brilliant ideas that Lamar had while at Southwest was the $13 liquor promotion and the ad, "Nobody is going to shoot Southwest Airlines out of the sky for a lousy $13". He wrote that copy himself !! Minus a few curse words. Also, he was the one who came up with the idea of the 10 minute turn around as they had to sell their 4th 737 in order to make ends meet more or less.
When he started Muse Air, it was the FIRST non-smoking airline in the world. Brilliant idea. Gorgeous planes. That logo and paint scheme had to be one of the BEST ever. Muse Air's original plan was to focus on Houston Hobby airport and build a hub out of that airport. Due to the PATCO strike, that was the main reason MuseAir flew to TUL and MAF after originally just having service from DAL to HOU. MAF and TUL were the only cities MuseAir could get slots in and out of. Lamar wasn't as active at MuseAir as he was with Southwest and therefore MuseAir with Mike running it, almost became "Revenge Air" instead, trying to compete against Southwest. I have often wondered how MuseAir would have done if they had focused on their original operating plan, focusing on HOU as their hub? I have also heard that Lamar and Mike did not have a good relationship after MuseAir failed. I wonder what Mike is doing these days?
Lastly, in Southwest Passage, Lamar brings up an idea to Herb about how WN could fly in/out of DFW with only two gates, thereby offering non-stop service to a LOT of WN cities from DFW, as also a way to bring back planes into DFW/DAL for maintenance and as a way for out-lying stations to be connected to Headquarters better, even if it were flights in and out of DFW. The plan made "perfect" sense, but Herb didn't take Lamar's suggestion.
WesternA318 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 5763 posts, RR: 22
Reply 19, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 1702 times:
Reading the article from Dallas was like reading how PSA got started. While I do credit Herb, Lamar, and Rollin for taking the intra-state LCC concept further, they copied EVERYTHING out of PSA's ops books. I read in a PSA book some time ago that Lamar and Rollin went to San Diego to study PSA, and they basically took everything with them.
But alas, Lamar did great with Southwest's beginnings, then at MuseAir/Transtar. I got to fly a TransStar MD-80 from HOU to LAX way back in the day, and as stated above, from what I can recall, it was like a WN/Midwest hybrid.
JayDavis From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 2000 posts, RR: 14
Reply 20, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 1617 times:
Yes, they got a LOT of their operating philosophy from PSA, they had gone out there under the "assumption" that PSA was going to sell them some planes............PSA let them look over everything till they realized they were not going to be buying any of PSA's planes, PSA then shut off all access to them.
But, you still have to give Lamar a LOT of credit for brilliant ideas like the 10 minute turn around and the Nobody is going to shoot Southwest Airlines out of the sky for a lousy $13 bucks campaign as well. That move by Lamar has become a case study for a ton of business classes in universities across the US. A Classic move by a Classic gentleman.
Type-Rated From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 1585 times:
Let's not forget the original Muse Air advert featuring Lamar Muse. It stated something like "If you can't go an hour without a cigarette, fly someone else!"
When WN bought Muse Air and changed the name to TranStar (which WN nicknamed the "flying purple profit eater") they did have plans for clubs called the Erythinan Club or something like that which would feature work out centers and juice bars in the airports.
I had the opportunity to fly Muse a bunch of times HOU-MSY and HOU-LAX and SJC. I always had a nice flight. I will admit that some of the F/A's (male) looked more life football players rather than F/A's. I had no doubt that some of these guys could grab you and toss you out of the aircraft should the situation arise.
And for those who were smokers and took Muse, they had a Smokers kit they would hand out which contained mints and pamphlets from the American Cancer Society explaining why you should quit smoking and outlining several methods that one could use to quit.