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Southwest Airlines has a flashback -- emphasis flash

Bar RefaeliLeonardo DiCaprioSouthwest AirlinesSports Illustrated swimsuit issuesupermodel

Ew. No, really. This is just ... distasteful.

Southwest Airlines has adorned one of its 737s with a huuuge illustration of a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model named Bar Refaeli reclining along the fuselage, cleavage at about Row Two, white-bikinied crotch over the wing, feet nearing the very back row.

This turns out to be an even worse idea than airlines trying to charge passengers for water. The Fort Worth newspaper says some passengers complained about having to board a plane "plastered with soft porn."

With its low fares and jokey crew banter, Southwest is the spiritual airline heir to the departed PSA, Pacific Southwest Airlines, which was practically California's unofficial in-state airline for almost 40 years, until 1988, when it finally gave up the ghost in a merger with USAir. Its fares were very cheap, and standby fares were affordable even for students; I remember flying up to San Francisco late one afternoon at the last minute for some concert, flying back that same night, and getting change out of seventy bucks.

Unfortunately, PSA sometimes made too much of its motto, "The World's Friendliest Airline." There was more to it than the comic cabin patter. A Times reporter wrote in 1971 that you could just as easily call PSA the "Airborne Playboy Club," and he meant it flatteringly. Stewardesses -- for that's what they were called --  often wore miniskirts and, later, "banana-skin tight" hot pants. They were instructed to make nice with the chiefly male passengers -- so much so that you'd have thought they were working for tips instead of $330 a month (the starting salary in 1971).

In that 1971 article, the president of the airline described the ideal "PSA girl" as having "beauty head to toe. Good face. Good build. Flashing eyes. She's the sort of girl who can swing and yet keep herself under control when the passenger goes too far." Not a word about the first responsibility of flight attendants: passenger safety.

I remember boarding a flight one February 14, and after the plane took off, the "PSA girl" went up and down the aisle, handing out drawing materials to the men on board and sing-songing, "Make me a Valentine! Make me a Valentine!"

It wasn't cute, it was ridiculous. I think it demeaned the flight attendants as much as it demeaned passengers, especially women passengers.

When it comes to what should happen to this new fleshly adornment on the Southwest plane, I'll invoke a double entendre that might have suited the old PSA: "Take it off."


Comments () | Archives (8)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Paul S

I don't see the problem. Especially form OPINION LA. LA that is all about beautyfull people. And Soft PORN???? Come on. It's just a girl in a swimsuit. This country wants to be political correct but has the biggest porn industry in the world at the same time. I have flown with lots of flight attendants that would love to wear go-go boots and hotpants again!!! By the way... do your homework next time becauese is only to be on this plane for 3 months anyways!!!!

bill ward

That's what you get for flying in the bible belt. Soft Porn??? I get that we don't want to demean women but honestly start with the programs that featrue abuse to women AND men AND children on television. This is marketing pure and simple.


We ride on city busses with Victoria’s Secret models and Sex in the City ad’s on them, and that’s taxpayer money. Talk about demeaning woman, turn on the TV. Get off Southwest, I’ve seen worse at the public pool where I take my kids.


SOME passengers have complained. That's the fun thing abouut "journalism", right? You can always find SOMEONE to represent point of view favored by the "writer". All must now bow down. Someone has complained

Waah, waah, waah!

"I saw something I thought someone else wouldn't like; it reminds me of something else I wouldn't have liked if I had known about it a long time ago!"

Make them stop!

Carol Brown

Gotta "LUV" Southwest - for years they were the "wanna be" airline - (they wanted to be just like the big boys) Well, due to their recent actions, now they've got their wish. They have racked up losses for multiple quarters in a row, just like the big boys. So, they launch a cheesy, slutty advertising campaign to focus on their "fun" side?? I'd rather they concentrate on their business model and actually get back to profitability. Just watch, after they have another quarter in the red, and they'll move the flight attendants back to wearing hot pants!!


Looks like the article writer used the new story as an anchor to vent previously repressed frustrations with the airline.

Only the first paragraphs are about this story, the bulk is a rant about Southwest. Good job.

And I didn't think I'll see the day that America calls a woman in a swimsuit "soft porn". I guess next is closing of the beaches and public pools. And burkas.

Ansje Ferguson

I was a PSA stewardess from 1969 until 1973. I loved my job. I interviewed along with 1000 girls to be accepted into a class of 30.
PSA stewardesses had high standards. Not only did we look good, we could carry on a conversation with anyone.
The author of this article takes quite disdainful tone on this subject.

Reggie W. Beane

Who ever wrote this article probably hates life also. I wonder how it must feel to be one of probably four passengers to have ever complained about one of the most famous and historic airlines he'll ever have the pleasure of flying with. What's wrong with having an enjoyable and entertaining fun flight with the most attractive stewardesses any airline will ever have on board!



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