Remember the planes with a smile? We’ve got vintage PSA ticket jackets, emergency cards & more from Pacific Southwest Airlines

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Vintage PSA ticket jackets, emergency cards and ads for Pacific Southwest Airlines

How Pacific Southwest Airlines began (1968)

Pacific Southwest Airlines, now the nation’s leading intrastate carrier, was begun in 1949 when the Friedkin School of Aeronautics hit hard times.

At the end of World War II, Ken Friedkin and three of his instructors, J. Floyd “Andy” Andrews, Hugh Wood, and Leo Leonard, set up a flight school in San Diego and trained fellow war veterans on the GI Bill of Rights tuition money.

By 1949, however, the bloom was off the peach, and Friedkin called his staff together. “We’ve got to think of something,” he said, “because we’ve just about had it.”

One of the four men — no one remembers who first said it — suggested the idea of an airline from San Diego to San Francisco. The idea was “kicked around,” and on May 8, 1949, PSA began a once-per-week flight between San Diego and Oakland, using a leased DC-3.

“Andy” Andrews, current president of PSA, who took over the job when Friedkin died in 1962 at the untimely age of 47, was then operations manager of the infant airline. “We started with practically nothing,” he recalls. “We bought a set of bathroom scales to weigh the luggage, which was loaded by the pilots while the stewardesses cleaned out the aircraft.”

As California boomed in the post-war era, so did PSA. In its first year, it hauled 15,000 passengers, about 7,000 fewer than it hauled on August 31st this year, at the start of the Labor Day weekend.

Before the year is out, PSA will have grossed about $53 million, with its 23 jets flying 800 trips a week.

Its 250 hostesses insist it is possibly the best airline in the country to work for. As one tall stalk of blonde loveliness explains, “Our executives appreciate beauty and grace in women and, what’s most important, they don’t mind admitting that we are the ones who make them look good.”

“Other airlines,” says chief stewardess Renfro, “try to attract customers on the basis of rare roast beef, friendly skies, and experienced pilots. Our pitch is femininity and friendliness, in that order, and it seems to work.”

Vintage Pacific Southwest Airlines ticket jacket: Our smiles aren’t just painted on

Vintage Pacific Southwest Airlinesticket jacket: Our smiles aren't just painted on<

PSA/Pacific Southwest Airlines boarding pass/ticket jacket featuring vintage stewardesses

Vintage PSA ticket folder

Pretty, thin, young and single? Check out these sexist stewardess job requirements of the ’50s & ’60s

PSA Ticket jacket with name, flight, flight times, gate, etc (1981)

Pacific Southwest Airlines Ticket jacket with name, flight, flight times, gate, etc (1981)

PSA gives almost everyone a lift (1969)

It’s a rare passenger who can’t give the blues the brush flying PSA. Big exhibitions like our snappy new all-jet fleet, over 160 flights a day serving San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Ontario, Los Angeles, Hollywood-Burbank, San Diego and Sacramento. Nice little shows like impromptu parties, kids’ gifts, crossword puzzles. Call your travel agent or PSA and put on a happy face.

PSA gives almost everyone a lift (1969)

PSA Smile hour – Beverage service menu

Have we got smiles for you! PSA invites you to sit back and smile it up all the way there with a refreshing drink or two. Cocktails: $1
PSA beverage service menu with dollar cocktails 1970s

Pacific Southwest Airlines emergency card – DC-9 Super 80

PSA’s What do to in an emergency

Pacific Southwest Airlines emergency card - DC-9 Super 80 - cover

PSA Emergency card - DC-9 Super 90 - info

PSA Emergency card - DC-9 Super 90 - text

PSA/Pacific Southwest Airlines flight schedule (1972)

Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight schedule for 1972

PSA’s Jaws-themed TV commercial from 1985

YouTube video


Catch PSA to Long Beach (1970s)

From San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento, Lake Tahoe

PSA to Long Beach - brochure from the 1970s

PSA has Los Angeles surrounded (1971)

Fly our easier to get to, faster to get out of airports. Look at Southern California from all sides. PSA does. We’re talking about our easy-come, easy-go airports at Hollywood-Burbank, Ontario, and Long Beach.

On the other hand, if you prefer Los Angeles International, who’s to argue? PSA flies more passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco than any other airline. Pay your money. Take your choice. Check your travel agent or PSA. PSA gives you a lift.


Your reasons for flying PSA are as plain as the face on our nose. (1968)

Something funny is going on right under our nose. It’s symbolic of the smile PSA puts in your flight. With little touches like surprise parties, crossword puzzles and kids gifts. Big touches like more new jets, lowest air fares, 700 flights a week connecting San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Los Angeles, Hollywood-Burbank, San Diego and Sacramento. We finally had to draw the line somewhere. Call PSA or your genial travel agent. PSA gives you a lift.


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Comments on this story

2 Responses

    1. I was alive when PSA “was a thing” but I was a kid and hadnt yet been on a plane. I remember that PSA vs. Cessna crash in San Diego being the first airliner crash I was actually aware of as a child. PSA was Cali’s airline and I remember the jingle: 🎼PSA gives you a lift every time🎶! PSA became Southwest and those planes are everywhere!

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