aviateur
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Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sat Aug 19, 2006 9:58 am

Doubtless this has been covered here at one point or another, but I was asked today why Southwest's two-digit IATA code is "WN." Many codes are random, but I have a feeling this one means something. (Yes, I know, the carrier's ICAO code is "LUV.")

- PS

www.askthepilot.com

[Edited 2006-08-19 03:30:00]
Patrick Smith is an airline pilot, air travel columnist and author
 
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falstaff
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RE: Southwest's ATA Code -- Why WN?

Sat Aug 19, 2006 10:01 am

Quoting Aviateur (Thread starter):
Doubtless this has been covered here at one point or another, but I was asked today why Southwest's two-digit IATA code is "WN."

I have wondered the same thing.
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atrude777
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RE: Southwest's ATA Code -- Why WN?

Sat Aug 19, 2006 10:01 am

For starters edit the topic titel it made em think you meant the airline-ATA, so add the I.

2. SW was taken because it was used by Air Namibia.
3.WN was thought to stand for Were Nuts! Maybe so, maybe not.
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HPRamper
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RE: Southwest's ATA Code -- Why WN?

Sat Aug 19, 2006 10:05 am

I heard at the time of the airline's inception, SW was already taken, so the people in charge requested the first code available with "W" in it. Maybe that's totally false, but it's what I read once (probably on here!)
 
FlyingTexan
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RE: Southwest's ATA Code -- Why WN?

Sat Aug 19, 2006 10:06 am

Because you can't spell win without WN.





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Jerseyguy
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RE: Southwest's ATA Code -- Why WN?

Sat Aug 19, 2006 10:06 am

They told Southwest that they didn't have SW available and asked them if they would like to use a random code and they replied "Why Not" and so they were assigned WN.  Big grin Although thats only a rumor
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OPNLguy
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RE: Southwest's ATA Code -- Why WN?

Sat Aug 19, 2006 10:07 am

Southwest's original code was OE, but was changed early on to WN. As far as I can recall (from those who started in 1971; I didn't arrive until 1977), Southwest's first choice was SW, but that was in use by then Seabord World, a freight outfit. WN was just the next one on the list, and had no special meaning. Of course, some say it was for "We're Nuts" in reference to the book about Southwest, but that book didn't come out for another couple of decades...
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
atrude777
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RE: Southwest's ATA Code -- Why WN?

Sat Aug 19, 2006 10:12 am

Quoting Aviateur (Reply 3):
Oops, I've roused the nitpickers. I accidentally typed "ATA" code in my subject line. It's the IATA code I'm referring to.

No nitpicking here, just simple confusion  Silly

Quoting FlyingTexan (Reply 5):
Because you can't spell win without WN.

So true!!!  Smile

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 7):

Sounds the most reasonable response.

WN just seems so Southwesty  Silly

Alex
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hawaiian717
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RE: Southwest's ATA Code -- Why WN?

Sat Aug 19, 2006 10:31 am

Quoting Aviateur (Thread starter):
(Yes, I know, the carrier's ICAO code is "LUV.")

Actually, their ICAO code is SWA. LUV is their stock ticket symbol.
 
vatveng
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sat Aug 19, 2006 12:34 pm

I always thought it was because it was the opposite of Northwest: NW --> WN

I wonder how many pax get Northwest and Southwest confused?
 
Cactus739
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sat Aug 19, 2006 1:11 pm

Quoting Vatveng (Reply 9):
I wonder how many pax get Northwest and Southwest confused?

Normal people don't call airlines WN and NW.

Normal people call them Southwest and Northwest.

I don't think anyone who's completed third grade gets them confused.

[Edited 2006-08-19 06:14:35]
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vatveng
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sat Aug 19, 2006 3:17 pm

Quoting Cactus739 (Reply 10):
Normal people don't call airlines WN and NW.

I was referring to the fact that they both have "West" in the name...

Having traveled with my dad a few times I've seen confusion over less than that. He couldn't make heads or tails over having AA on his boarding pass, AA logos at the gate, but TWA on the plane. So these things cross my mind.
 
bluewhale18210
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sat Aug 19, 2006 4:45 pm

Quoting Vatveng (Reply 9):
I wonder how many pax get Northwest and Southwest confused?

One of my agents called WN "WestNorth" to a passenger.
Good thing he was confused also and wasn't laughing at the mistake...
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sat Aug 19, 2006 5:09 pm

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 6):
Southwest's first choice was SW, but that was in use by then Seabord World, a freight outfit.

Actually I think the code SW was used back then by Namib Air (formerly Suidwes Lugdiens) from South West Africa (now Namibia). The carrier is now called Air Namibia, but the code is still SW.
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NWrr
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sat Aug 19, 2006 6:17 pm

Quoting Vatveng (Reply 9):
I always thought it was because it was the opposite of Northwest: NW --> WN

I wonder how many pax get Northwest and Southwest confused?

I work in res for NW, and you would NOT believe how many people get confused because both airlines have the word "West" in them. One person actually said, "What's the difference?" I was momentarily taken aback before answering, "They're a different airline, and since you're ticket is with them, you'll need to call them for assistance with your reservation."

So, yes, it happens often.
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OPNLguy
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sat Aug 19, 2006 11:24 pm

Quoting JGPH1A (Reply 13):
Actually I think the code SW was used back then by Namib Air (formerly Suidwes Lugdiens) from South West Africa (now Namibia). The carrier is now called Air Namibia, but the code is still SW.

http://www.al-airliners.be/s/seaboard/seaboard.htm

Seaboard World was sucked up by Flying Tiger in 1980, and the African airline you mention apparently got "SW" subsequent to that. Southwest could have gone after it, but at (then) only 9 years old, Southwest had better things to spend its money on, and it stayed with "WN".
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
TheSorcerer
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sat Aug 19, 2006 11:50 pm

I was just thinking it might be that Northwest have NW, Southwest is the other way (on the compass) so they swap the letters around.

Dominic
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OPNLguy
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sat Aug 19, 2006 11:54 pm

Quoting TheSorcerer (Reply 16):
I was just thinking it might be that Northwest have NW, Southwest is the other way (on the compass) so they swap the letters around.

Wouldn't the opposite of NW on a compass be SE?
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
sw733
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sun Aug 20, 2006 1:12 am

Quoting Atrude777 (Reply 2):
2. SW was taken because it was used by Air Namibia.

Damn right, and we're not giving it up  Wink
 
srbmod
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sun Aug 20, 2006 1:13 am

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 6):
Southwest's first choice was SW, but that was in use by then Seabord World, a freight outfit.

Actually, Seaboard's IATA code was SB.

I'm surprised that Southwest wasn't able to use the SW code in a controlled duplicate situation, since neither airline operates into the same airports.
 
hoosiercfi
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sun Aug 20, 2006 1:14 am

Quoting JerseyGuy (Reply 5):
They told Southwest that they didn't have SW available and asked them if they would like to use a random code and they replied "Why Not" and so they were assigned WN. Big grin Although thats only a rumor

This is the one that I have heard as well.
 
AirRyan
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sun Aug 20, 2006 1:53 am

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 6):
WN was just the next one on the list, and had no special meaning. Of course, some say it was for "We're Nuts" in reference to the book about Southwest, but that book didn't come out for another couple of decades...

I remember reading that Herb told them at the time to take the next one that comes along with a W in it and WN was what was first to than come available; don't know if that is true or not though.
 
OPNLguy
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sun Aug 20, 2006 2:16 am

Quoting Srbmod (Reply 19):
Actually, Seaboard's IATA code was SB.

It would appear so...and that what the website said and what I was told were incorrect...

So, the revised, corrected sequence of events...

Southwest originally has OE, but wanted something else. "SW" was already in use by the African outfit. Southwest takes the first thing with a "W" in it, which is "WN" (and has no other significance) and that brings us to the present-day.
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
b737100
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sun Aug 20, 2006 4:09 am

I used to confuse WN and WC when Wien Air Alaska (formerly Wien Consolidated) was still around. Air California was XK, then switched to OC, since AC was not available (LOL). The aircraft did have AC in their registration numbers, ie N471AC.
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antoniemey
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sun Aug 20, 2006 4:44 am

Quoting Vatveng (Reply 9):
I always thought it was because it was the opposite of Northwest: NW --> WN



Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 17):
Wouldn't the opposite of NW on a compass be SE?

Aw, OPNL, you beat me to it.  Smile
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Charliejag1
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sun Aug 20, 2006 4:56 am

Obviously the answer is Wrong Number.
 
TheSorcerer
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sun Aug 20, 2006 5:47 am

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 17):
Wouldn't the opposite of NW on a compass be SE?

Yes it is, but there could still be a connection there. Then again NW and WN could just be a coincidence.

Dominic
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cjpark
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RE: A New Twist On The Wright Amendment Debate

Sun Aug 20, 2006 5:50 am

Based on experience with this airline the initials are appropriate.

WN = Waiting Needlessly
"Any airline that wants to serve the [region] can go to DFW today and fly anywhere they want," WN spokesman Ed Stewart
 
dtwclipper
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sun Aug 20, 2006 5:57 am

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 17):
Wouldn't the opposite of NW on a compass be SE?

Guess that depends on which way the plane is facing...oh wait, that's best saved for another day!:D  Big grin  Big grin  Big grin

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kdeg00
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sun Aug 20, 2006 6:04 am

What was the IATA code for Western Airlines, and when did they fold/merge?
 
dtwclipper
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sun Aug 20, 2006 6:08 am

Quoting Kdeg00 (Reply 29):
What was the IATA code for Western Airlines, and when did they fold/merge?

Western=WA


Merged w/ Delta fully on April 1, 1987.

[Edited 2006-08-19 23:13:47]
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bnamaxx
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sun Aug 20, 2006 6:46 am

Hey, if Aloha can be AQ, then Southwest can be WN. Who says they have to make sense?
 
mtnwest1979
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sun Aug 20, 2006 7:54 am

Quoting Bnamaxx (Reply 31):
Hey, if Aloha can be AQ,

Even better, it was TS before AQ.
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"
 
motopolitico
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sun Aug 20, 2006 8:00 am

Since it seems that JB was available, why did Jet Blue go with B6??
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DeC
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sun Aug 20, 2006 8:36 am

The same reason HELIOS AIRWAYS was ZU
DEC
 
Thenoflyzone
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sun Aug 20, 2006 9:19 am

Who cares about IATA !!!

It's all gonna be ICAO codes in a couple of years anyways. if I were you, i'd start to learn the 3 letter codes ASAP.

AK

[Edited 2006-08-20 02:20:42]
us Air Traffic Controllers have a good record, we haven't left one up there yet !!
 
aviateur
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sun Aug 20, 2006 9:27 am

Quoting Motopolitico (Reply 33):

JB is the property of Helijet International, a helicopter outfit based in British Columbia.

What a weird conversation. Weirder still is the idea of an airline actually naming itself after an IATA code! Case in point, SN Brussels Airlines. I wrote an article about SN Brussels here. They're definitely an odd company....

http://www.salon.com/tech/col/smith/2006/06/23/askthepilot191/


- PS

www.askthepilot.com

[Edited 2006-08-20 02:29:27]
Patrick Smith is an airline pilot, air travel columnist and author
 
ORDagent
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sun Aug 20, 2006 3:21 pm

Quoting Srbmod (Reply 19):
I'm surprised that Southwest wasn't able to use the SW code in a controlled duplicate situation, since neither airline operates into the same airports.

Even if they don't fly to the same places they are often in the same place called a timetable or computer data base such as Sabre.

Quoting Thenoflyzone (Reply 35):
It's all gonna be ICAO codes in a couple of years anyways. if I were you, i'd start to learn the 3 letter codes ASAP.

I don't get this one at all. Even non IATA members have codes assigned to them. Ticket distribution channels even if they are not via IATA / GDS systems use these codes. The only issues are that there are only so many codes but there are still many to be had. It's hard to connect TZ with ATA or MU with China Eastern etc but they IATA nomiculture is here to stay for at least the medium term.
 
ctbarnes
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Sun Aug 20, 2006 3:49 pm

Quoting Thenoflyzone (Reply 35):
Who cares about IATA !!!

It's all gonna be ICAO codes in a couple of years anyways. if I were you, i'd start to learn the 3 letter codes ASAP.

AK

Anyone else hear this? At a guess it's going to cost a bundle to re-program GDS to accept the 3 letter codes.

Charles, SJ
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pgtravel
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Tue Aug 22, 2006 2:09 am

Quoting Aviateur (Reply 36):

What a weird conversation. Weirder still is the idea of an airline actually naming itself after an IATA code! Case in point, SN Brussels Airlines. I wrote an article about SN Brussels here. They're definitely an odd company....

Or how about Sibir changing their name to S7?
 
dtwclipper
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Tue Aug 22, 2006 2:37 am

Quoting Srbmod (Reply 19):
I'm surprised that Southwest wasn't able to use the SW code in a controlled duplicate situation, since neither airline operates into the same airports.

As a side note, when EL Al started service they used the "EA" two letter code.

Eastern was not happy with this, and by 1952 EL AL adopted the LY code.

see: Star in the Sky, by Marvin Goldman.
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lincoln
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Tue Aug 22, 2006 6:15 am

Quoting Vatveng (Reply 9):
I wonder how many pax get Northwest and Southwest confused?

At CLE NW and WN use the same baggage belt. I was flying back PLN-DTW-CLE (on Northwest) about two weeks ago, and at while I was waiting for my bag there were a bunch of people from a WN flight waiting for their bags.

I spent a few minutes trying to explain a WN pax (who seemed confused about why her bag wasn't coming out) that
(a) Northwest and Southwest are different airlines, but they happen to be using the same belt,
(b) All of the bags going around right now are from the Detroit flight, so it would probably be a few minutes before she saw her bag, and
(c) This is perfectly normal; you can read the tags to figure out what flights your looking at, and there's no reason to worry.

I eventually gave up, the "Aren't they the same?" question came up

Lincoln
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Boston92
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Tue Aug 22, 2006 6:23 am

Some of WN's crafts have registrations ending in SW and some end in WN.
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mallthus
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Tue Aug 22, 2006 6:52 am

Since we're covering codes that don't make much sense, there's HP, which is/was America West. Originally it was Hawaiian Pacific, which was what was on the operating certificate that the Tempe based start up bought.

Of course, I've seen people mix up America West and American. Most people don't pay as much attention to this stuff as we do here.
 
ntspelich
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Tue Aug 22, 2006 7:43 am

Quoting Boston92 (Reply 42):
Some of SA)">WN's crafts have registrations ending in SW and some end in SA)">WN.

And others end in corporate officers' initials (CB, HK), departments (MX, QC), SA for Southwest Airlines and LV as in LUV. I'm sure that there's others, but it's been a long double so far today.
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OPNLguy
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Tue Aug 22, 2006 7:49 am

Quoting Ntspelich (Reply 44):
And others end in corporate officers' initials (CB, HK), departments (MX, QC), SA for Southwest Airlines and LV as in LUV. I'm sure that there's others, but it's been a long double so far today.

There's also a RR (Ron Ricks) and JW (Jim Wimberly), as well as a WR and JC (for two PHX AMTs who passed away in a general aviation crash). I want to say there's also a GB (Gary Barron) but I can't recall for sure. He may have already been gone by the time we started doing that.
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
ntspelich
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Tue Aug 22, 2006 7:57 am

Yeah, I know that Wimbs has one, forgot about Ron Ricks. Couldn't remember the exact situation behind the PHX mx guys.

P.S. What's up with all the swaps OPNL? At least get ones that are on the same pier for us. Big grin
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OPNLguy
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Tue Aug 22, 2006 8:17 am

Quoting Ntspelich (Reply 46):
P.S. What's up with all the swaps OPNL? At least get ones that are on the same pier for us.

BTSOOM.. I'm off...  Wink
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
atrude777
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RE: Southwest's Iata Code -- Why WN?

Tue Aug 22, 2006 10:01 am

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 45):
I want to say there's also a GB (Gary Barron) but I can't recall for sure. He may have already been gone by the time we started doing that.

There is, N739GB appropriately after N738CB.
Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who go AFTER it!