The World’s First Budget Airline Takes Off

May 6, 1949. On the runway at Lindbergh Field in San Diego, a scrappy upstart called Pacific Southwest Airlines, PSA, is about to take its first flight. PSA is a budget airline—the world’s first. Other jet age carriers will offer luxury in the sky, but PSA does not. It’s exploiting a loophole in the American flight system to do things very differently. How did PSA manage to offer flying to ordinary people at prices they could afford? And how did it force an entire industry to reimagine itself?

Special thanks to our guests: Mary Boies, former fellow on the Senate Commerce Committee, White House staffer, and general counsel to the Civil Aeronautics Board; Jim Patterson, early PSA employee, and eventually its vice president of operations; and Michael Roach, former lawyer at the Civil Aeronautics Board.

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