Herb Kelleher, co-founder of Southwest Airlines, dies at 87
By DAVID KOENIG
AP Airlines Writer
Friday, January 4
DALLAS (AP) — Not many CEOs dress up as Elvis Presley, settle a business dispute with an arm-wrestling contest, or go on TV wearing a paper bag over their head.
Herb Kelleher did all those things. Along the way, the co-founder and longtime leader of Southwest Airlines also revolutionized air travel by practically inventing the low-cost, low-fare airline.
Kelleher died on Thursday. He was 87. Southwest confirmed his death but did not indicate the cause.
In the late 1960s, the nation’s airlines were a clique of venerable companies that offered onboard dining, movies and other amenities to make flying pleasant but pricey. Fares approved by federal regulators made air travel a luxury that few could afford.
Kelleher was a lawyer in San Antonio in 1967 when a client, Rollin King, came to him with the idea for a low-fare airline that would fly between San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. Kelleher guided Southwest through a thicket of legal obstacles thrown up by other airlines, and the new carrier began flying in 1971.
Southwest kept costs low. It flew just one kind of plane, the Boeing 737, to make maintenance simpler and cheaper. It gave out peanuts instead of meals. There were no assigned seats. It operated from less-congested secondary airports to avoid money-burning delays.
Southwest turned a profit in 1973 and hasn’t suffered a money-losing year since — a streak unmatched in the U.S. airline business.
Kelleher became Southwest’s chairman in 1978 and CEO in 1982, as federal regulation of airline prices was disappearing. He led the company through its period of greatest growth. As Southwest entered new cities, it forced other airlines to match its lower prices. Federal officials dubbed this “the Southwest Effect.”
Today, Southwest carries more passengers within the United States than any airline. While critics say Southwest has come to resemble the bigger carriers that it once fought against, it created a model of streamlined operations, low costs and lower fares that spawned similar airlines around the world.
If Southwest was different, so was its garrulous CEO — a wisecracking chain smoker who bragged about his fondness for Wild Turkey bourbon whiskey.
Kelleher was so outgoing that it would take him ages to walk through an airport — he seemed to stop every few feet to chat with employees and passengers. He had a booming laugh, a bottomless trove of anecdotes, and a lawyer’s precise way with words.
Kelleher showed a flair for wacky marketing antics. When Braniff tried to drive Southwest out of business by undercutting its fares — prices that ensured both airlines would lose money — Kelleher offered a bottle of liquor to anyone who bought a full-fare Southwest ticket. Kelleher said that business travelers with expense accounts and a thirst for booze made Southwest the biggest liquor distributor in Texas for a time.
When Southwest and a smaller aviation company both claimed the same advertising slogan, Kelleher proposed to settle the dispute by holding an arm-wrestling contest with the other CEO. Kelleher, clenching a lit cigarette between his teeth, lost the match, but the victor — impressed by the publicity the stunt generated — let Southwest keep using the tagline.
As Southwest added service to more cities, executives of other airlines — and some of their passengers — dismissed Southwest as a cattle-car operation for cheap travelers. Kelleher answered with a TV commercial in which he wore a paper bag over his head and promised to give the bag to any customer who was too embarrassed to be seen flying on his discount airline.
The TV ads and the Elvis costumes helped make Kelleher the public face of Southwest and probably the most recognized person in the airline industry.
In 1999, at age 68, Kelleher was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He kept working, commuting between Southwest’s Dallas headquarters and a hospital in Houston, but the incident added urgency for a succession plan.
In 2001, Kelleher stepped down as CEO and president, and he retired as chairman in 2008. Even after leaving, he remained on the payroll and went to the office regularly.
In a 2011 interview with The Associated Press, Kelleher said his proudest achievement was that Southwest — in an industry that cut tens of thousands of jobs in the decade after 2001 — never laid off workers.
In a statement Thursday, Southwest said, “Herb was a pioneer, a maverick, and an innovator. His vision revolutionized commercial aviation and democratized the skies.”
T. Boone Pickens, the oilman and fellow legendary Texas business figure, tweeted, “Herb Kelleher is arguably the most transformative figure and character in the history of modern aviation. He is the epitome of the can-do entrepreneurial spirit.”
Herbert D. Kelleher was born in Haddon Heights, New Jersey, and got his first job — for $2.50 a week — making sure that copies of the Philadelphia Bulletin newspaper were delivered. He graduated from Wesleyan University and earned a law degree from New York University in 1956.
Kelleher is survived by his wife, Joan, and three of their four children.
David Koenig can be reached at http://twitter.com/airlinewriter
Will China’s moon landing launch a new space race?
January 4, 2019
Author: Wendy Whitman Cobb, Associate Professor of Political Science, Cameron University
Disclosure statement: Wendy Whitman Cobb does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
China became the third country to land a probe on the Moon on Jan. 2. But, more importantly, it became the first to do so on the far side of the moon, often called the dark side. The ability to land on the far side of the moon is a technical achievement in its own right, one that neither Russia nor the United States has pursued.
The probe, Chang’e 4, is symbolic of the growth of the Chinese space program and the capabilities it has amassed, significant for China and for relations among the great power across the world. The consequences extend to the United States as the Trump administration considers global competition in space as well as the future of space exploration.
One of the major drivers of U.S. space policy historically has been competition with Russia particularly in the context of the Cold War. If China’s successes continue to accumulate, could the United States find itself engaged in a new space race?
China’s achievements in space
Like the U.S. and Russia, the People’s Republic of China first engaged in space activities during the development of ballistic missiles in the 1950s. While they did benefit from some assistance from the Soviet Union, China developed its space program largely on its own. Far from smooth sailing, Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution disrupted this early programs.
The Chinese launched their first satellite in 1970. Following this, an early human spaceflight program was put on hold to focus on commercial satellite applications. In 1978, Deng Xiaoping articulated China’s space policy noting that, as a developing country, China would not take part in a space race. Instead, China’s space efforts have focused on both launch vehicles and satellites – including communications, remote sensing and meteorology.
This does not mean the Chinese were not concerned about the global power space efforts can generate. In 1992, they concluded that having a space station would be a major sign and source of prestige in the 21st century. As such, a human spaceflight program was re-established leading to the development of the Shenzhou spacecraft. The first Chinese astronaut, or taikonaut, Yang Liwei, was launched in 2003. In total, six Shenzhou missions have carried 12 taikonauts into low earth orbit, including two to China’s first space station, Tiangong-1.
In addition to human spaceflight, the Chinese have also undertaken scientific missions like Chang’e 4. Its first lunar mission, Chang’e 1, orbited the moon in October 2007 and a rover landed on the moon in 2013. China’s future plans include a new space station, a lunar base and possible sample return missions from Mars.
A new space race?
The most notable feature of the Chinese space program, especially compared to the early American and Russian programs, is its slow and steady pace. Because of the secrecy that surrounds many aspects of the Chinese space program, its exact capabilities are unknown. However, the program is likely on par with its counterparts.
In terms of military applications, China has also demonstrated significant skills. In 2007, it undertook an anti-satellite test, launching a ground-based missile to destroy a failed weather satellite. While successful, the test created a cloud of orbital debris that continues to threaten other satellites. The movie “Gravity” illustrated the dangers space debris poses to both satellites and humans. In its 2018 report on the Chinese military, the Department of Defense reported that China’s military space program “continues to mature rapidly.”
Despite its capabilities, the U.S., unlike other countries, has not engaged in any substantial cooperation with China because of national security concerns. In fact, a 2011 law bans official contact with Chinese space officials. Does this signal a new space race between the U.S. and China?
As a space policy researcher, I can say the answer is yes and no. Some U.S. officials, including Scott Pace, the executive secretary for the National Space Council, are cautiously optimistic about the potential for cooperation and do not see the beginning of a new space race. NASA Administrator Jim Brindenstine recently met with the head of the Chinese space program at the International Astronautical Conference in Germany and discussed areas where China and the U.S. can work together. However, increased military presence in space might spark increased competition. The Trump administration has used the threat posed by China and Russia to support its argument for a new independent military branch, a Space Force.
Regardless, China’s abilities in space are growing to the extent that is reflected in popular culture. In Andy Weir’s 2011 novel “The Martian” and its later film version, NASA turns to China to help rescue its stranded astronaut. While competition can lead to advances in technology, as the first space race demonstrated, a greater global capacity for space exploration can also be beneficial not only for saving stranded astronauts but increasing knowledge about the universe where we all live. Even if China’s rise heralds a new space race, not all consequences will be negative.
Schools fall short when it comes to helping students in grief – here’s how they can improve
January 4, 2019
Author: David Schonfeld, Director, National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, University of Southern California
Disclosure statement: David Schonfeld does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
An adolescent experiences the death of his mother after a lengthy illness.
When I ask what services he would like to receive from the school, he initially says he didn’t expect special treatment, would be embarrassed by counseling from the school mental health staff and wouldn’t feel comfortable if many of his teachers asked to talk to him about his grief.
At the same time, the student felt as though the school should somehow take his situation into account.
“I don’t know what the school should do,” the student told me. “But I just lost the person I love most in my life and they act as if nothing happened.”
In my many years as a developmental-behavioral pediatrician who specializes in school crisis and child bereavement, I believe this dilemma – that is, the need to do enough but not to overwhelm the grieving student or the adults who are trying to help – represents a major challenge for America’s schools.
The need for recognition by trusted adults of their loss, a genuine expression of sympathy and an offer of assistance is often what students seek after a major loss – but too often don’t receive.
A common experience
Loss is very common in childhood – 9 of every 10 children experience the death of a close family member or friend and 1 of every 20 children experience the death of a parent.
In contrast, teacher preparation to support grieving students is uncommon. In a recent survey conducted by the American Federation of Teachers and the New York Life Foundation, 93 percent of teachers reported that they never received any training on how to support grieving students. They identified this lack of training as the primary barrier that prevented them from reaching out to grieving students in their class and offering the support they knew they needed. Worried that they would do or say the wrong thing and only make matters worse, some educators chose instead to say and do nothing.
In recognition of this problem, I offer a series of insights and recommendations that teachers can adopt to make the school experience less stressful for students who have recently lost a loved one. Although the advice is aimed at educators, surviving parents or caretakers or anyone who cares about how to help bereaved students can use this advice to advocate on their behalf.
The consequences of inaction
Saying nothing says a lot to grieving children. It communicates that adults are either unaware, uninterested or unwilling to help. It leaves children confused about what has happened and how to react. It leaves children unsupported and forces them to grieve alone. Adults should reach out to grieving children and let them know that they are aware and concerned and are available to provide support and assistance.
What not to say
Anything that starts with “at least” should probably be reconsidered – “at least she’s not in pain anymore” or “at least you still have your father” are generally not helpful comments. It suggests that the adult is uncomfortable with the child’s expression of grief and is trying to “cheer up” the grieving child in order to limit the adult’s own discomfort. Don’t encourage children to hide their feelings or reactions, and don’t feel that you have to hide your own emotions. Be genuine and authentic. Tell grieving children that you are sorry about their loss and ask them what they are feeling and how they are doing.
There isn’t anything you can say that is going to make everything right again for a grieving child. So, listen more than you talk. Other guidelines of what not to say – and what to say instead – to grieving children can be found in “The Grieving Student: A Teacher’s Guide.”
Peers want to – and can – be an important source of support to grieving children, but often are unsure what to say or do. Provide them advice on what to say and practical suggestions on how to be helpful. This will help grieving children obtain critical peer support and decrease their sense of isolation. It will also reduce the likelihood that peers will instead ask repetitive and intrusive questions or tease grieving children.
Offer academic accommodations
Grieving children often experience a temporary decrease in learning ability. They may be tired from not being able to sleep, have difficulty concentrating and learning new material, or may be experiencing significant disruptions in their home environment that make it difficult to study or complete homework.
Grieving children should view school as a place of comfort and support, especially at a time of loss. If they are worried about failing, school becomes instead a source of additional distress. Teachers should offer educational support before children demonstrate academic failure. Check in more frequently to make sure that they are learning new material and are able to keep up with the workload.
Talk to other teachers, instructors and coaches and try to help grieving students balance all of their responsibilities. If the student needs to prepare for an important concert, then maybe academic teachers can lessen some of their assignments. Grieving students may need to have their workload decreased or modified temporarily. If a major report seems overwhelming, substitute with shorter and more manageable assignments. If it’s hard for them to stay on task to complete an individual project, consider a group project that might promote peer support.
Be more sensitive
Teachers can also introduce activities with more sensitivity. For example, if you are going to do a project for Mother’s Day, introduce the activity by telling students that you realize some children may not have a mother who is alive or living with them. They can still complete the activity remembering their mother, or can choose to focus on another important female family member. This will also help students whose mothers may be deployed in the military or incarcerated, or away for other reasons.
Help children manage grief triggers
Many things may remind grieving children about the person who died and cause them to temporarily feel a resurgence of their grief. It may be a comment made by a teacher or a peer, such as “I went shopping with my mother this weekend,” or a portion of a classroom lesson, such as a health education lesson that references a similar cause of death.
Holidays such as Thanksgiving or the winter holidays tend to involve spending time with loved ones and may accentuate the sense of loss. Let students know that these triggers may occur and set up a safety plan. Students may be given permission to step out of the classroom briefly if they are feeling upset and worried that they will not be able to contain their emotions. Work out a signal to communicate when this occurs that doesn’t draw attention to the student. Make a plan for where the student will go and who they can talk with. If students know that they will be able to leave, they often feel less overwhelmed and will be more likely to remain in class and stay engaged in the lesson.
For more information
The Coalition to Support Grieving Students offers free learning modules on a wide range of issues related to grieving students, including videos and written summaries. Schools can also learn more about how to help grieving students through the Grief-Sensitive Schools Initiative.