With a lengthy page in Wikipedia and even longer stories being told by its 1980s passengers from time to time, People Express definitely has the history of its own. Now the American low-cost airline, also known as the most hated airline in history, is back in the sky. Low fares are back. So is low quality food and service combined with long delays and a horrifying number of overbookings. Should we be happy or frightened?
Let us start with some historic overview. Established in 1981, People Express was expanding rapidly. In 1983 the airline began non-stop flights from Newark to London’s Gatwick Airport, with fares as low as $149 one way! By adding some other European destinations to the list (i.e.Montréal-Mirabel and Brussels) the airline was an instant success.
The funny thing was that, believe it or not People Express offered no online reservations and tickets were sold… directly on the plane! This just could never last. In 1987 the airline went bankrupt and merged with Continental Airlines.
Although remembered as People Distress, we have to give them some credit and admit that the airline was very innovative way back in the 1980s. Checked-bag fees, meal-free flights, and snacks and beverages for purchase – People Express was probably the first to offer them.
Now, 29 years later, People Express seems to rise from the ashes. As the airline announces on its website, it is going to provide both low fares and better treatment. “We’re going to treat you like we actually want your business. Because we do. And not just for the low fares, either. You’ll see.”
Hopefully it does not mean overbooking rates approaching 200 percent, like it was back in 1987. We’ll see.