Pacific Southwest Airlines, or PSA for short, was an intra-state California based airline that was founded in 1949 by Kenny Friedkin. Its first route was San Diego to Oakland via Burbank using the venerable Douglas DC-3.

The airline pioneered many of the elements we see today in budget airlines. In fact, Herb Kelleher studied PSA closely as a model for his subsequently very successful Southwest Airlines. That model was copied by Michael O’Leary of Ryanair, so the DNA of the California airline has really gone global.

A Video About PSA

Following the last video about Eastern Airlines, we stay in the USA this time around and look at PSA. This runs for a little under 15 minutes and gives a decent history of the airline and what happened to it.

Apart from the fact the narrator calls the British Aerospace 146 a “BEA 146” instead of a “BAe 146” each time that aircraft is mentioned, it’s otherwise a well put together presentation. It touches on all the pertinent parts of the airline’s story.

What is not mentioned about the PSA Lockheed L-1011 TriStar in the video is the fact that these featured unique lower deck lounges. The modification actually made it difficult for resale of the aircraft when the airline no longer needed them.

Of course, in the end the smiling aircraft of the California airline were absorbed into the far less interesting USAir. What a shame PSA is not around today.

Overall Thoughts

I’ve been lucky enough to read the book “Poor Sailors’ Airline: The Story of Kenny Friedkin’s Pacific Southwest Airlines” by Gary Kissel. It sounds like the airline had a real family vibe and that attitude passed on to the passengers, who really loved flying with the outfit.

The pioneering attitude of the airline and the innovations it introduced have lasted through to today. I really like that fact, though most of these are incorrectly attributed to Southwest Airlines!

Did you ever fly with PSA and if you did, 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 via the San Diego Air and Space Museum on Flickr.