Herb Kelleher was/is/always will be #1 with me! Mr. Kelleher has been the guiding force behind an airline success story that is in a class by itself. He has proven to be a man who has walked the walk of integrity, sound ethical principles, and caring about others more than himself throughout his association of 30+ years with Southwest. In fact, as I've studied and observed the workings of Mr. Kelleher and Southwest Airlines, I have coined a phrase to sum up what I've found: "Herb is right!" Or, when I see him doing one of his impersonations or involved in an arm-wrestling match to settle a legal dispute: "That crazy old Herb is right!"
From the regulated era, C.E. Woolman of Delta is my favorite, most respected CEO. Under his leadership, Delta grew from a regional airline serving the Southeastern U.S. to a major, transcontinental trunk carrier that became renowned for superior service on the ground and in the air while consistently earning profits. Not coincidentally, Delta was also regarded in Mr. Woolman's time and for years after his tenure as the best U.S. airline to work for.