Eastern Air Lines
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Eastern Air Lines Airplane Spotted

“Eastern Air Lines — which went out of business in 1991 — was once one of the four largest airlines in the United States. Currently in the midst of the worst worldwide economy in years where it is difficult enough to maintain the operations of a commercial airline, what would possess someone with the idea of re-launching a once-storied commercial airline?”

Eastern Air Lines Airplane Spotted

Eastern Air Lines
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

What you just read is what I first asked in this short article back on Saturday, March 7, 2009; and for greater than ten years, attempts to bring back the once legendary name in commercial aviation have either failed or faltered…

Eastern Air Lines “hockey stick” logo.

…so when I spotted an airplane with the Eastern livery, adorned with its former official color scheme earlier this month at Punta Cana International Airport in the Dominican Republic, it was a curiosity to me — but I did notice that the livery of the airplane was notably missing what some call its “hockey stick” logo, which is shown on the right.

In fact, the livery looked rather disappointingly plain and uninspired.

Eastern Air Lines was one step closer to returning to the skies, as I reported in this article on Sunday, May 17, 2015 — but that was one of the many efforts which failed.

The current iteration of the airline — which is now based in Greensboro in North Carolina — submitted an application to the Department of Transportation of the United States earlier this year to acquire the rights to operate flights between New York and Jinan in China twice per week with a stop in Anchorage starting next month.

When a charter airline known as Dynamic International Airways successfully emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2018, it changed its name to Eastern after the name was purchased from Swift Air, which bought the name from the previous iteration of the owner of the name which ceased operations at the end of 2017. The fleet of the airline reportedly consists of two Boeing 767-200 and four Boeing 767-300ER airplanes.


Eastern Air Lines
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

My first flight was on an airplane operated by American Airlines; but I have flown as a passenger on Eastern Air Lines during my early days of travel. I experienced a delay of greater than five hours on my first flight on Eastern Air Lines from New York to Miami; but a few years later, I would receive surprise upgrades to its premium class cabin on domestic flights as a member of the OnePass frequent flier loyalty program which Eastern Air Lines and Continental Airlines shared before I earned top tier elite level status at that time.

Eastern Air Lines had built a “mini-hub” of sorts in Atlanta prior to its dissolution in 1991, when I was still based in the New York metropolitan area. I was really starting to like being a passenger on that airline; so you can imagine my disappointment when the airline was no longer in operation.

As for Eastern Air Lines returning to its days of now faded glory as The Wings of Man…well…I would not hold my breath on that one…

All photographs ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

    1. Seriously, JamesP.

      I had not been to Miami International Airport in years; but I do have a layover there coming later this year.

  1. Yes these planes are all over at MIA. See them all the time across from the Centurion Lounge. I have seen one at the E gates pretty recently actually operating. It was flying to Venezuela as I recall. They mainly seem to sit though.

    1. Venezuela, HiAperture?

      When I get to Miami International Airport later this year, I will see for myself.

      I wonder if that is a hub of sorts for Eastern Air Lines…

  2. I would not call ATL a “mini-hub” for Eastern. In 1991, they (and their regional affiliate) operated 390 daily flights out of ATL, and at its height in 1987, Eastern operated 445 daily flights. While dwarfed by today’s DL operation, for its time in the industry, ATL was a major hub for Eastern. I don’t have the passenger counts, but I would not be surprised if Eastern carried more passengers through ATL than MIA. Eastern occupied half of the B concourse and all of the C concourse (by comparison,, DL had all of A, half of B, and some common use gates in T; I think their regional partner, ASA, was using part of D).

    1. Thank you for that information, Mfb123.

      As far as the term mini-hub, that is what an employee of Eastern Air Lines called it to me in person; and I simply took the word of that person as fact.

      1. On a side note, I did a paper in college about the demise of Eastern and success of Delta and how everything anyone wanted to know about why one was falling apart while the other was thriving could be found in Concourse B (the concourse they shared). Even though both companies operated similar routes and similar equipment, the corporate culture between the two was night and day and was easily discernible by simply spending 10 minutes and walking from gate 1 to gate 35.

    2. Eastern was huge in Atlanta. Definitely good times for Atlanta flyers back then with two big airlines competing head to head, plus the small fry and feeder service to other airlines’ hubs.

    3. Spot on. I ran Executive Traveler and did work for Frequent Traveler, Wings and Sprint. Knew John Nelson, Bill Delahanty, Don Metcalf, Paul Auger, and at the bitter end Martin Shugrue. Eastern was the airline industry leader in the 1960’s thru mid 1970’s and its end was tragic. Thanks for sticking up for them. 🙂

  3. I believe this resurrected version of EAL is operating B767’s as a charter company. These relaunch & rebranding attempts seldom work, ie. Pan Am, People Express, etc. Airline economics favor established legacy carriers with tremendous leverage using schedule and capacity dominance to crush these new start-up attempts. I would love to see Eastern return to it’s pre-Lorenzo days, but probably not in my lifetime.
    The finance departments run the big 3 legacy airlines today. It’s all about the bottom line and squezing an extra penny out of each ASM by cutting and reducing customer service.

  4. A fine point – the incorporated name was “Eastern Air Lines, Inc.”, but it operated under the tradestyle “Eastern Airlines”, which is the way 99.9% of the world knows it.

    1. Thank you for the information, Henry O Westendarp.

      After years of being conditioned to refer to Delta Air Lines with the words air and lines as separate words, I simply assumed that Eastern Air Lines — or Eastern Airlines — was similarly adamant to Delta; and I strive for articles to be correct…

  5. Here here! I agree, Eastern was #1, but the era of greatness in the industry is unfortunately over. The world now has followers who run companies by committee; we need more true entrepreneurs who aren’t constrained by our crazy legal system.

  6. I spotted a plane just like the one in the picture above with Eastern on it in New Orleans on April 3, 2019. I couldn’t believe my eyes since I used to fly them often between New Orleans and Norfolk or Richmond in the 70’s and 80’s.

  7. From the “Left At The Gate” department: What (and just kidding as not really relevant to the subject at hand): No mention of Eastern Airlines founder and WWI Medal of Honor recipient Eddie Rickenbacker or Astronaut Frank Borman ??

  8. I seem to remember most of Eastern Airlines problems was related to their crazy union in the service operations area and the antics that it continually pull on the company and the passengers. The issues were what took place at the repair facilities of Eastern Airlines back in the 80’s

  9. Would I have spotted one at YYZ Term 3? I know I had a “Back to the Future” experience somewhere.

  10. I have my own Eastern Air Lines story. This was approximately 1972 or ’73, I had a job in Puerto Rico doing consulting engineering under an SBA loan program. So I got to spend November, December and most of January in PR instead of frigid upstate NY. I had to go back to NY briefly for reasons no longer remembered, but it was on an Eastern flight out of San Juan to JFK, around 6:30pm, dinner hour. We expected dinner on the flight. About 45 minutes after departing SJU, we were at cruising altitude and the flight attendants announced that due to a strike by the caterers, there wasn’t enough food on onboard for everyone to get dinner. To make up for this tragedy, they announced the bar was OPEN! They just wheeled the drink cart to an exit door space and everyone got to make their own. There was no pushing, shoving, fighting, screaming or any of that nonsense you see these days. Everyone arrived at JFK with a nice, or in some cases, a serious buzz and it was one of the most enjoyable flights I’ve ever been on, to this day. You’re not likely to find that any more.

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