I never took Tower Air, but there are many posts in this website about how horrible they were. If it wasn't for their JFK
route on 747's, they would have had a very short life.
I never took Laker, but there is no doubt they were part of the LCC revolution, especially for international services and of airlines ran by travel agencies in the UK. Freddy Laker's 'Skytrain' service at their cheap prices was a revolution. What brought them down was the ability of major airlines on those rights to take a hit and sell a lot of seats cheap and undercut Laker.
PeopleExpress - I took several flights on them including EWR
. Perhaps the closest comparison to PE
is Ryanair today.
Looking at a late 1985-early 1986 schedule I have, you did have to pay for everything: $3.00 per checked bag charge, $0.50 for each can of soda, cup of coffee/tea, juice, $1.00 - 2.50 for beer, wine or hard drink, $3-5 for headphones/IFE. There was no hot food service, instead offering sandwich and cold chicken platters for something like $5.00 on 747 transcon/transatlantic services, and snacks/breakfast items for $ 0.50 - $3.00. You could pay for your flight with cash, check or credit card in-flight. You checked your bag after you went through security at the gate entrance. One quirk about that was there was a total prohibition on the transport of any firearms and animals. They apparently had a $5.00 UM
Fares ranged from $39 for off-peak short domestic services, to $149-199 for transcon/transatlantic services. They also offered a 'premium' class seat for $450 on the LGW
services and $325 for LAX
services. They only had 2 fares tiers - 'off-peak' and 'peak'
's only hub. All service except for their international services at EWR
was at the now long gone 'North' Terminal (now the site of parking lots and service buildings). International service for PE
and other airlines then was at a part of Terminal C, which while built along with A&B in the 1970's, wasn't finished until after the collapse of PE
's plan was to make Terminal C their hub, but with their collapse into CO
, it was finished and later revamped by CO
, becoming a CO
hub, and still many outbound international flights go via Terminal C. PE
also led EWR
becoming the important airport it has become.
In flight was about as comfortable as any major at the time, they were usually pretty good as to on-time. One problem was that they could severely overbook and it could be very difficult to book a flight on the phone. One could walk up for any flight and hope that they could get on a flight. That was very cool if one just wanted to take a flight that day on a whim, like to go see a friend in Buffalo. PE
was very popular with casual travelers, especially college students. It did have a considerable affect on keeping fares down from the majors.