Infographic provided by United Airlines.

How Would Alice Kramden Feel About United Airlines Pulling Out of New York?

ou are probably wondering about the bizarre headline for this article — and you might even be wondering who is Alice Kramden and why would she be concerned about United Airlines pulling out of New York?

First — as of Sunday, October 25, 2015 — United Airlines is pulling out of one airport in New York: John F. Kennedy International Airport, according to this official press release from United Airlines:

With its launch of p.s. services at Newark Liberty, United will cease operations at Kennedy International Airport on Oct. 25. United has entered into two separate transactions: Delta Air Lines plans to acquire United’s JFK slots, and United plans to acquire slots from Delta in Newark. Each transaction is subject to regulatory approval.

The airline will still serve passengers at Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport with non-stop flights to and from eight destinations: Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto and Washington, D.C. Still, the announcement seemed to surprise a lot of people.

Second, Alice Kramden is a fictitious character played by the late Audrey Meadows in The Honeymooners — which is a classic television situation comedy series in the 1950s conceived by Jackie Gleason and a favorite amongst many New Yorkers. Jackie Gleason played the role of Ralph Kramden, who was a bus driver living in a tenement apartment in Brooklyn — Jackie Gleason was born and raised in the Bushwick neighborhood, which I passed underneath every day on the L train when I commuted to Manhattan — and Audrey Meadows played his wife. They were a working-class childless couple who barely survived financially; and many of the story lines revolved around the frustrations of attempting to get ahead and enjoy the good life.

"Audrey Meadows 1959" by United States Steel Corporation — eBay itemphoto frontphoto back. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons —
“Audrey Meadows 1959” by United States Steel Corporation. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons. Click on the photograph to access its source.

In real life — after becoming the first woman to hold the position of director of First National Bank of Denver for eleven years — Audrey Meadows was married to the chairman and chief executive officer of Continental Airlines for 25 years until his death. Robert Forman Six held those executive positions for 45 years, leading the airline to its success. Two years after Robert F. Six married Audrey Meadows in 1961, the headquarters of Continental Airlines moved from Denver to Los Angeles.

Audrey Meadows served as an advisory director of Continental Airlines, where she was actively involved in its marketing programs — including the designs of uniforms for flight attendants and customer service agents in the 1960s and 1970s, where she “insisted that every graduate of flight attendant school receive a pearl necklace to wear as part of her uniform”, according to this article written by Noel Lyn Smith of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer; aircraft interiors; and Presidents Club airport lounges. She served in this role for 20 years until 1981, which was the year that Frank Lorenzo — then president of Texas International Airlines — was instrumental in launching a bid for a hostile takeover of Continental Airlines, which was suffering losses of greater than $100 million at the time. The acrimonious merger was completed in 1982, when Frank Lorenzo became chairman of Continental Airlines — and the headquarters subsequently moved to Houston — until he was forced to retire in 1990.

The merger of Continental Airlines and United Airlines was official approved by the Department of Justice of the United States on Friday, August 27, 2010.

I remember when Continental Airlines and Eastern Airlines shared the OnePass frequent flier loyalty program. At one point during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Eastern Airlines served both airports in New York; while Continental Airlines served only Newark Airport…

…so in answer to the question as to how Alice Kramden — or, more accurately, Audrey Meadows — would feel about the recent announcement from United Airlines pertaining to pulling service out of John F. Kennedy International Airport, she probably would not feel any differently than she did when Continental Airlines did not serve either of the two New York airports at one point; and this was while she was still alive before her death as a result of lung cancer in 1996 at the age of 73.

Audrey Meadows was once quoted as saying in 1955 that “My aim is to make as much money as possible, to buy clothes and travel.” She handily accomplished those goals and then some…

Infographic provided by United Airlines.

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