TheFlyGuy2
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Eastern Air Lines Moonlight Special

Sun Feb 19, 2006 7:47 am

Hi All,

Anyone know much about the Eastern Moonlight Special?

When did Eastern start it up and shut it down?

What planes were used?

What routes did the Moonlight Special serve?

Thanks,

Andy

PS. I am getting a March 2, 1987 EA Timetable in the mail from EBAY. I will post the Moonlight Special flights when I get it?

That may even be later today?
 
jcavinato
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RE: Eastern Air Lines Moonlight Special

Sun Feb 19, 2006 8:04 am

I don't know the dates, but as I remember they flew night planes that primarily carried freight and mail. The idea was that passengers could then be carried at low cost (no meals, etc.). I remember them hubbing several flights in Kansas City as well as Houston. I did one coast to coast (EWR-Kansas City-LAX), and landing/changing at what was on my body 3:00am didn't make the trip fun.

But, you gotta credit EAL for trying anything innovative for more top line revenue. They were the creators of the shuttle (DCA-LGA/EWR-BOS). That took a regulatory fight at the CAB, but they argued that the connies were fully depreciated as well as the DC-7s they operated to BOS. They created a sub-industry with that business model.
 
wjcandee
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RE: Eastern Air Lines Moonlight Special

Sun Feb 19, 2006 8:10 am

I took it too. It was fun. The idea was that it was basically standby. I think it was on A300s. They'd fill the belly with whatever mail and cargo they had, then go to max weight with pax -- kind of the opposite of what usually would happen.

Remember that this was at a time when freight forwarders typically did not have their own fleets, as they do today. Purolator, which was one of the bigger ones, used late night airline lift almost exclusively, for example.
 
Lono
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RE: Eastern Air Lines Moonlight Special

Sun Feb 19, 2006 8:11 am

I remember a EA AB 300 I think in SEA.... very cheap fares... charged you if you had bags... this was in essence a cargo flight thay they were trying to fill up... as I recall it was 99 bucks from SEA to the east coast..... no food service but I remember they charged for a snack..(?)... many moons ago...
Wally Bird Ruled the Skys!
 
timz
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RE: Eastern Air Lines Moonlight Special

Sun Feb 19, 2006 8:17 am

As I recall it started in 1985. To start with, anyway, it was all A300 thru IAH. They had a contract with CF Airfreight to fill the hold, so you could check baggage, but it cost extra (was it $10 a bag?) and it wasn't guaranteed to get on your plane. And if it traveled on a later flight you'd have to pick it up at the airport.
 
Lono
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RE: Eastern Air Lines Moonlight Special

Sun Feb 19, 2006 8:24 am

Quoting Timz (Reply 4):
but it cost extra (was it $10 a bag?) and it wasn't guaranteed to get on your plane. And if it traveled on a later flight you'd have to pick it up at the airport.

Yes that is what the deal was... cargo flight first... try and make some money with PAX if possible..
Wally Bird Ruled the Skys!
 
gr8slvrflt
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RE: Eastern Air Lines Moonlight Special

Sun Feb 19, 2006 8:31 am

It started using A300s with an IAH hub. Fare was $49 per segment. No checked bags. Sodas and sandwiches cost extra. It was quite a crowd: backpackers, young families, seniors, you name it. Ground time in Houston was two to four hours in the middle of the night. To cut the required minimum FA crew, seats 10AB were removed and (hopefully) reinstalled the next morning. It was quite successful and more cities were added with DC-9 and 727 equipment. The cities I remember: IAH, SEA, PDX, SFO, LAX, PHX, DEN, DFW, ORD, MSP, EWR, PHL, IAD, CLT, ATL, MCO, & MIA (probably a few more). As Continental rebuilt after their first strike, the Moonlight Special was encroaching on their territory so Texas Air forced Eastern to move the hub to ORD. This was quite a challenge with limited gate space and winter weather problems. Even so, it was still profitable. During the Lorenzo reign of terror, pilots were quitting and the company refused to hire any more unless they opened their contract early. With the ensuing pilot shortage, both the Kansas City hub and the Moonlight Special were scrapped. The end was near.
I work for Southwest, but the views expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent those of Southwest.
 
FlyPIJets
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RE: Eastern Air Lines Moonlight Special

Sun Feb 19, 2006 8:39 am

This made me get out a 1976 EAL timetable. They offered Night Coach back then.

The description of Night Coach doesn't mention the standby nature of a cargo flight, I wonder if Night Coach was the same as moonlight special?
Rex Kramer: Get that finger out of your ear! You don't know where that finger's been!
 
ltbewr
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RE: Eastern Air Lines Moonlight Special

Sun Feb 19, 2006 9:19 am

I remember EA's 'Moonlight Specials' too (although never took them). It was a great way to travel between the places they had for that service, for cheap at the last minute. Maybe this wouldn't be a bad idea for some other airlines today to get more utilization of their a/c. CO has a hub in IAD and does some freight/mail on their fights and could expand that and put a lot of the cheap seat seekers to these flights.
 
TheFlyGuy2
Topic Author
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RE: Eastern Air Lines Moonlight Special

Sun Feb 19, 2006 9:48 am

Hello Again,

I just went to the mail and found the March 2, 1987 Eastern Airlines Timetable waiting for me.

It looks like Chicago (ORD) was the Moonlight Special Hub at the time.

Here are the cities served Non-Stop from ORD with Moonlight Special:

Atlanta, GA
Baltimore, MD
Boston, MA
Charlotte, NC
Dallas, TX
Denver, CO
Detroit, MI
Houston, TX
Los Angeles, CA
Miami, FL
Minneaplois, MN
New York, NY
Philadelphia, PA
Pittsburgh, PA
St. Louis, MO
San Feancisco, CA
Seattle, WA
Washington D.C.

The Moonlight Special Flights Accounted for 17 of the 21 Cities Served Non-Stop From ORD.

Other Non-Moonlight Special Cities Were:

Fort Meyers, FL
Kansas City, Mo
San Jaun, Puerto Rico

Later,

Andy
 
TheFlyGuy2
Topic Author
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RE: Eastern Air Lines Moonlight Special

Sun Feb 19, 2006 11:27 am

Did it end in 1991 when Eastern as a whole Ended?
 
PanAm747
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RE: Eastern Air Lines Moonlight Special

Sun Feb 19, 2006 3:38 pm

Quote:
This made me get out a 1976 EAL timetable. They offered Night Coach back then.

The description of Night Coach doesn't mention the standby nature of a cargo flight, I wonder if Night Coach was the same as moonlight special?

1976 was before deregulation. This would not have been the same situation.
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TheFlyGuy2
Topic Author
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RE: Eastern Air Lines Moonlight Special

Mon Feb 20, 2006 1:03 am

Any FA's remember working the M.L. Specials?
 
FlyPIJets
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RE: Eastern Air Lines Moonlight Special

Mon Feb 20, 2006 2:15 am

Quoting PanAm747 (Reply 11):
1976 was before deregulation. This would not have been the same situation.

I don't follow what you are saying. Night Coach was a forerunner to Moonlight Special. I betting getting route authority for night flights was easy. And another guess would be that the route authority request was to fill cargo needs. Didn't EAL operate the 727 C ? Not that that matters but did they ever fly it as a combi.

(I'm rambling now Big grin )

Also, back in '76 EAL had a deal called Leisure Class Conditional Reservation. Basically, pay the coach fare and agree to standby. If the flight was full, get you money back and fly on the next flight free.

If you stir the two ideas together, you can see the origins of Moonlight Special.
Rex Kramer: Get that finger out of your ear! You don't know where that finger's been!
 
TheFlyGuy2
Topic Author
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RE: Eastern Air Lines Moonlight Special

Mon Feb 20, 2006 7:39 am

I just learned, via the Chicago Tribune, that the Moonlight Special Flights were discontinued all together only two months after starting service at O'Hare. The date was May 2, 1985, they were started at O'Hare on March 2, 1985. I guess the residents were complaining that there was too much noise in the middle of the night.
 
timz
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RE: Eastern Air Lines Moonlight Special

Mon Feb 20, 2006 7:44 am

The Houston overnight hub apparently started about 1 April 1985-- it's not in the 3/85 OAG but the 4/85 EA timetable features it. It ended about 1 March 1987. And the standby checked baggage was indeed $10 a bag, but that apparently wasn't available when the operation first started.
 
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RE: Eastern Air Lines Moonlight Special

Mon Feb 20, 2006 3:41 pm

Quoting Timz (Reply 15):
And the standby checked baggage was indeed $10 a bag, but that apparently wasn't available when the operation first started.

I have an videotape full of mid-80s EA commercials, one of which was for The Moonlight Special (with music set to CCR's, "The Midnight Special"). During the spot, the announcer clearly says:

"...there's NO CHECKED BAGGAGE.."
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masseybrown
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RE: Eastern Air Lines Moonlight Special

Mon Feb 20, 2006 4:56 pm

Quoting FlyPIJets (Reply 13):
I don't follow what you are saying. Night Coach was a forerunner to Moonlight Special. I betting getting route authority for night flights was easy.

The Night Coach flights were not operated on special routes; they operated on the usual authorized routes and usually had day time equivalents. The difference was night coach fares were cheaper. I believe flights that originated after 10PM (later it became 9PM) and arrived before 6AM were considered night coach. The FN/YN fares were about 2/3 to 3/4 of day F/Y fares and, IIRC, FN=Y.

TWA also had some clever night coaches. At a time when they were short of jets they ran a couple of night coach multi-stop transcons using L-1049Gs. One was JFK-CLE-LAX-SFO and the other was JFK-DTW-ORD-DEN-SFO-LAX. (DTW may have been YIP in those days.) AMR and UAL, which had all jet service for transcon routes, never matched the service; and TWA made decent $$ on those Connies for a couple of years in the 1960s.
 
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eta unknown
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RE: Eastern Air Lines Moonlight Special

Tue Feb 21, 2006 3:05 am

I remember the ads in the New York Times... A300's and the fare was $99 each way for a JFK-LAX nonstop.
 
Type-Rated
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RE: Eastern Air Lines Moonlight Special

Tue Feb 21, 2006 8:16 am

Night Coach tickets were discounted from day time flights. If you had a daytime coach ticket, it became a night first class ticket. A cheaper way to a bigger seat! They actually were a fare basis. Usually only drinks were served.
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