A&E’s Old Southwest Airlines TV Show, “Airline”

I recently went down an aviation rabbit hole on YouTube, which caused me to spend more time than I should watching a hilarious show that I remembered fondly from back in the day. If you don’t yet have weekend plans, now you do. 😉

The TV show about Southwest Airlines operations

In 2004 and 2005 A&E had a show called “Airline,” which essentially followed Southwest Airlines’ operations. The TV show was on for three seasons and there were a total of 70 episodes, before it got canceled.

Many people may remember the show from back in the day. I know when I stumbled upon my first clip on YouTube a few days ago, I immediately remembered watching the show years ago. For those who haven’t seen the show, it followed Southwest Airlines employees dealing with difficult situations at the carrier’s biggest hubs.

As you may have guessed, the show primarily involves when employees find themselves in tricky, unusual, or funny situations. More often than not, passengers depicted in the show were also cranky, given delays and other operational issues.

Each episode is roughly 20 minutes, so you can watch a couple of episodes below, if you want to get a taste of the show.

Alternatively A&E has various reels on YouTube, if you just want to watch 90 minutes of nonstop action.

It’s funny how aviation has changed

I remember watching this show about 15 years ago, and it’s fascinating to rewatch now, because my takeaway from it is very different. I can’t help but notice how much customer service and passenger behavior has changed over this amount of time, for better and worse.

I feel like nowadays customer service agents make very few exceptions. That’s partly because flying has changed (ultra low cost carriers weren’t a big thing back then), and it’s also partly because airline employees don’t have as much latitude to do what they’d like. Things are a lot more automated than they used to be.

It’s amazing to watch clips where a passenger made a mistake that was entirely their fault, they’re rude to the ticket agent, and then somehow with 10 minutes until departure the ticket agent still escorts them through security and to the gate so that they don it misses the flight.

Along those lines, I think frontline airline employees just have a lot less tolerance for BS than they used to. While unruly passenger behavior is now at an all-time high, airline employees don’t generally engage with those customers, and instead call the police. Back in the day airline employees often kept talking to people even as they were screaming at then.

Admittedly this was a TV show, so in some cases I imagine airline employees were more happy to just play along than they might have otherwise been, but still.

Bottom line

I recently came across the show “Airline” from the early 2000s, which I remember seeing at the time. As someone who loves TV shows about airlines (there aren’t many!), I enjoyed watching some of these episodes. It’s noteworthy how interactions between customers and employees have changed in the airline industry over the years, for better and worse.

Anyone else find the show “Airline” to be amusing? And what are your takeaways from watching it?

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