Midwest Express Airlines began operations on 11 June 1984 with two Douglas DC-9-10 aircraft. These were fitted with two by two seating across the fleet instead of the usual two by three, providing a high level of comfort.
Their long time slogan was “The Best Care In The Air”. With leather seats, free gourmet meals and plenty of leg room, they were quite a popular choice for people flying out of their Milwaukee base.
Midwest Express Airlines Video
Following on from the last video about People Express Airlines, this time we stay in the USA for a look at Midwest Express Airlines. The video below runs for a shade over 12 minutes and gives a decent history of the airline.
I have to say, seeing the interiors of the aircraft with what is essentially domestic first class seating today is something to behold. The fact they also spent $9 per passenger on food is also remarkable.
Slow and steady expansion coupled with perhaps some of the best on board service ever seen in the American domestic market meant the airline did quite well. They had a loyal following and passengers loved flying with them.
Of course, external events such as 11 September 2001 and more eventually took their toll. It was eventually merged into another carrier and ceased to exist.
It’s interesting to see a carrier like Midwest Express managed to do well for so long. Offering superior on board service and amenities resulted in profits, a stark contrast to today where it seems to be the reverse.
Did you ever fly with Midwest Express Airlines? What were they like? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
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Featured image by RuthAS via Wikimedia Commons.
I grew up flying on Midwest Express, and then worked for them for several years in the corporate office toward the end. I can correct some mis-assumptions made thus far…. -Essential Air Service Subsidies: These were some markets served with the B1900D which was operated by Skyway, a separate (but wholly owned) airline than Midwest. They did have some EAS flying that was mostly in northern Wisconsin/Michigan UP plus Manistee and Muskegon, MI. The B1900 was on its way out as Midwest transitioned from using Skyway solely as a feeder to being a means to offer more frequency. They did… Read more »
This is really wonderful to read and thank you so much for taking the time to put this together. I love it when someone who was there is able to contribute and to really tell things how it really was. Some great information there, especially with AirTran, not to mention the industry experience. You would think executives would try to fly on other airlines here and there just to keep abreast of what they were doing. Not surprised at all on the upsell to the large seats not working. If people fly that regularly, they generally know how things work… Read more »
Used to fly Midwest Express out of Omaha all the time, best airline experience I ever had. It would cost you maybe $20 more per ticker compared to the other airlines, but there was no comparison!
Sounds well worth it for the service, seat and so on. Thanks for that!
I flew Midwest regularly during the 90’s when I lived in Madison. Prior to 9/11 meals were far better than what other airlines were serving in first class– steak and lobster, BBQ, grilled shrimp and those half pineapples filled with fresh tropical fruit along with another large bowl of fruit plus multiple side dishes when special ordering the fruit plate between MKE and West Coast destinations.
Wow, that all sounds amazing, As someone who loves to eat when they fly, Midwest Express sounds like my kind of airline. What a shame they’re not around now, otherwise I’d be all over that! Thanks for the info!
I flew on Midwest Express twice!
Once was on a MD-80 Milwaukee-Los Angeles. A colleague and I flew coach, which had 2 + 3 seating. Another colleague, who was evil, tried to get Delta miles and flew MKE to LAX with a connection somewhere. We won. He lost being a slave to miles.
Another time was a few years later on an Atlanta-Kansas City flight aboard a 717. It was the first time I was aboard a 717.
Midwest Express was famous for its chewy chocolate chip cookie given to all passengers.
Looks like you won indeed! Great you got to fly Midwest a couple of times, that’s great, I was surprised they had Boeing 717s actually, so it was interesting to find out.
I’d love to be able to compare their cookie to the ones we find today on some airlines.
I flew them a number of times when my home base was LSE. Their product was indeed as described here. What killed them was the slow and steady reduction in essential air subsidies, since they served a lot of smaller local airports with feeder service to MKE.
Now that’s interesting, I was not aware of the essential air subsidies reducing down gradually. That would make a lot of sense. Nice that you got to fly with them – thanks for the comment, appreciate that!
Never flew them but remember them well. In my opinion their biggest mistake was the configuration of their MD-80s. They bought them for range, as the DC-9/717 couldn’t make MKE-West Coast. For some reason they thought their traditional configuration 2×2 wouldn’t work on the larger MD-80s so they configured those 2×3 for the whole plane, the antitheses of their model, seriously diluting the product. Why no one in the company felt the need to configure say 1/3 of the -80s in the classic 2×2 with the other 2/3s in the standard 2×3 is beyond me. That was the beginning of… Read more »
I think once a business removes their unique selling point, they can never really recover, no matter how hard they try. At least this airline was around for a pretty long time, unlike some of the deregulation startups from the late 1970s and early 1980s. Sounds like Midwest would have been memorable to fly on!