Frontier Airlines
Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Basic Economy in 1975: No Frills Fare on This Airline…

Frequent travelers who are old enough to remember the days prior to deregulation of the commercial aviation industry in the United States in 1978 — as a result of a federal law in the United States called the Airline Deregulation Act, which removed federal control over fares, routes, market entry of new airlines, and other aspects of the commercial aviation industry as it became more of a free market — may recall when service was paramount…

Basic Economy in 1975: No Frills Fare on This Airline…

…but an audio commercial — which was initially broadcast at 7:52 on the morning of Tuesday, March 11, 1975 during a program which was hosted by Harry Harrison, who was a radio personality on WABC — was broadcast earlier today via Rewound Radio, which highlights the Musicradio 77 days of 770 WABC-AM as a tradition of every Memorial Day weekend for years.

That commercial was for National Airlines, which starts at the 00:40 mark in the audio clipping below.

The transcript — which was voiced live by Harry Harrison as he read the copy for the advertisement — is as follows:

No Frills.

Have you heard about it?

Starting April 14, National Airlines is going to charge you a quarter for a cup of coffee.

It may not sound like it; but it’s the best travel news in years, because on that day — subject to CAB approval — that’s C-A-B — National’s No Frills fare goes into effect.

The Frill is Gone.

There’ll be a special section of no-frills seats on National’s wide cabin jets on certain days. No meals, no frills, coffee’s a quarter; but you can save a bundle from New York-Newark to Miami-Fort Lauderdale — one way no-frills fare just $61.00. You save $37.00 off the present day coach fare.

You can make your reservations right now. Just purchase your tickets at least seven days before departure. Buy them Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. National’s No Frills fare — good from April 14 through June 30. if you have to cancel, ten percent of the fare or ten dollars — whichever is higher — nonrefundable.

Frills or no frills — now you can choose; and it’s the best travel news in years. Call your travel agent or National Airlines.

Imagine that: a total of $122.00 round trip between Newark and Miami or Fort Lauderdale.

Click on the screen shot for an enlarged version. Source: Frontier Airlines.

Fast forward from 1975 to 2021 — that is more than 46 years later — and you can fly as a passenger on Frontier Airlines one way from Newark to Miami for as low as $62.00 round trip

Click on the screen shot for an enlarged version. Source: Frontier Airlines.

…or as low as $52.00 round trip if you are a member of the Discount Den low fare club.

The aforementioned audio commercial predates the founding of Frontier Airlines by almost 19 years, as the airline was founded on Tuesday, February 8, 1994.

Hmm.

Summary

National Airlines was not the only airline to introduce the concept of no-frills airlines in the spring of 1975, as American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Eastern Air Lines also offered the concept at that time — so the concept of what is generally known today as Basic Economy arguably was conceived in 1975.

Later that year — on Saturday, September 20, 1975, to be exact — a hilarious skit called No Frills Airline on The Carol Burnett Show was broadcast for the first time on the CBS Television Network.

For additional entertainment pertaining to commercial aviation, please read this article which contains two humorous glimpses of airport security back in 1974.; and also be sure to peruse the advertisements related to travel in a 1965 issue of The New Yorker magazine.

As for Rewound Radio, Alan Sniffen brings back Musicradio 77 for all to enjoy and remember through his streaming broadcast station that plays music from the years 1960 through 1982 — 24 hours per day, seven days per week. He uses what are known as airchecks of the radio personalities — who were also known as disc jockeys, or DJs — to emulate what WABC sounded like. Airchecks were a portfolio of recordings to demonstrate the talent of the personality; and they were used either for the purposes of selling advertising — or as part of a resume if the personality was applying for a job at a radio station — and they were usually telescoped or scoped, which means that the music, commercials and news were removed. Music is inserted digitally back into the scoped airchecks to recreate the sound of WABC-AM — as if it were broadcasting the programs today.

That homage to 77 WABC-AM, which broadcast contemporary music for 22 years until it adapted a talk show format on Monday, May 10, 1982 — “the day the music died” on 770 on the AM radio dial — is still on today through approximately midnight, if you still want to catch the programming…

…and perhaps listen to vintage commercials of airlines, hotels, cruise ships, rental cars, and other components of travel.

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

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