How Braniff Went Bust: The Collapse Of The Fastest-Growing Airline In America

How Braniff Went Bust: The Collapse Of The Fastest-Growing Airline In America

The very simplified story of Braniff International Airways’ downfall. There are MANY factors involved in Braniff’s fall from grace. This video focuses on a few points relevant to the big picture (including American Airline’s sabotage)

Braniff Airways was first launched around 1926 by Paul Braniff. After a few retries, the airline became profitable and begun expanding. Throughout the 30’s and into the 70’s, Braniff became the fastest growing airline in the country. Prior to Airline Deregulation, they were well known for their exceptional onboard service and their route network.

Once deregulation was enacted, Harding Lawrence, the president of Braniff, decided to respond to deregulation by rapidly expanding Braniff’s influence. While the expansion was initially successful, unpredicted competition from other airlines, increased fuel costs, and economic unrest caused Braniff to lose millions.

The company went through a few changes in management, but many factors including pilot strikes, few passengers, declining value of service, and many others lead the airline to cease operations in 1982.

Callsign: “Braniff”
Years Active: 1930 – 1982, 1984 – 1990, 1991 – 1992
Headquarters: Dallas, TX
Primary Hub: Dallas (DFW)
Fate: Ceased operations after mounting losses. Subsidiaries still in operation.

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  1. OlesonMD on December 23, 2020 at 10:12 pm

    I was a pilot for Braniff from 1987-1989. At one point in time, Braniff took delivery of every (every) B-727 that rolled off the assembly line. This airline failed because of the corporate greed by two investors, a doll manufacturer, and a real estate developer, Cohen and Chodorow. They raped the company until nothing was left. They formed Bia-Corp Holdings, and charged Braniff $100,000 per month in consulting fees. The airline was debt free in 1987. In less than two years, the company would be out of business.

  2. Timothy Healey on December 23, 2020 at 10:13 pm

    great vid

  3. Boat Lover on December 23, 2020 at 10:13 pm

    Sadly, my cousin, who was trying to get in to the pilot business during that time had just finished his trining with them about a week before they went under.

  4. lemard mays on December 23, 2020 at 10:17 pm

    Yes, I do miss that airline.

  5. AS Aviation on December 23, 2020 at 10:17 pm

    Amazing video man, I love watching these videos of yours! So well put together. If you don’t mind me asking, where do you get those archive b-roll video clips from?

  6. Trevor G Welch on December 23, 2020 at 10:17 pm

    I have a one of a kind 727 display model Of a Braniff Jetliner . It is blue . Any Offers . ?

  7. 312 megapixels on December 23, 2020 at 10:18 pm

    I lived in Quito, Ecuador and the bright colors of Braniff airplanes is a memory I cherish. Traveling to Miami to visit Disney world was almost obligatory. Great content, thank you!!! Subscribed

  8. Jim Harris on December 23, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    Braniff had one of the best liveries with the pin-striped design. I flew them once between Omaha and Tulsa through Kansas City.

  9. Kenny on December 23, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    Controllers strike in Aug/81 didn’t help either..

  10. Dave Blevins on December 23, 2020 at 10:22 pm

    I remember that well. One gentleman came to my office one day, and asked if we were hiring pilots. ( I was in a position to help him being a check airman, but I worked in the helicopter 🚁 industry flying offshore in the GOM ). He hadn’t flown a helicopter in years, but I kinda felt bad for him a little bit. As we talked about aircraft and knowledge of helos, it was apparent that he would have cost me huge $$ to get him back up to speed. We didn’t hire him, and I lost track of him. I hope he was successful in finding a great job.

  11. Kent on December 23, 2020 at 10:23 pm

    Awesome video. You should do a video on Vanguard Airlines. They were a short lived low cost carrier that a lot of people have probably forgotten about or have never even heard of, so it might be an interesting one for you to cover.

  12. Randall Carrier on December 23, 2020 at 10:23 pm

    We flew on Braniff between LAX and SFO. These flights originated in South America.The DC-8s were old and orange. The fare was cheap. Service bad. Great report. Equally great comments.

  13. Juan Garcia on December 23, 2020 at 10:25 pm

    Lawrence Harding went crazy adding new routes after deregulation. Harding was a good administrator during the days of the CAB. After Deregulation he was clueless as of what to do. Harding was a tyrant. His people skills left much to be desired of. Remember visiting DFW in 1982 and seeing all those 727’s parked around the BN Terminal.

  14. Mark Monse on December 23, 2020 at 10:26 pm

    Lots of reasons, including over-expansion in the post-1978 deregulated environment. In the later months (but before they filed Chapter 11 in May of 1982) the airline I was working for picked up some their brand-new "white-tail" 727s for new service. They were 727-200 ADV with JT8D-17R engines that they’d ordered, and were some of the last 727s off the line. GREAT aircraft and never had any payload problems with them. Air Florida had five of them, and after QH’s own bankruptcy, I think a couple went to Cayman Air and one went to Wien in Alaska.

  15. Sarah Melchior on December 23, 2020 at 10:26 pm

    Who ever thought they’d end up producing "South Park" of all things?

  16. Whirlmode Flutter on December 23, 2020 at 10:27 pm

    And don’t forget the Braniff Electra disasters.

  17. Sky Honkler on December 23, 2020 at 10:27 pm

    Post-Deregulation greed and arrogance backfired on them? Wow.

  18. Jay Pat on December 23, 2020 at 10:30 pm

    I remember flying Braniff airways as a kid out of Long Island’s MacArthur airport. People would be smoking on those planes like forget about it! LOL It was a cool airline in the 70’s and 80’s.

  19. Shevontea Ligeon on December 23, 2020 at 10:32 pm

    Surinam airways Is in 100usd debt

  20. Cris Helt on December 23, 2020 at 10:32 pm

    For some reason, I have this memory of a commercial proclaiming "we’re Braniff, and we’re super!" that aired sometime in the 70s. Not sure why I remember that, other than the cute flight attendant/stewardess uttering that line.

  21. James Donohue on December 23, 2020 at 10:33 pm

    Great video. How about a story about the demise of Eastern (unless you did one already). My stepmother worked for Eastern as a gate agent at SFO when she was laid off. No pension, no nothing. The guy that ran Eastern, Frank Lorenzo, was a tyrant, too.

  22. Jackie Cobbs on December 23, 2020 at 10:34 pm

    Very interesting & a great report.

  23. BoltAPureSource on December 23, 2020 at 10:38 pm

    Braniff International "BI", was basically "Houston’s Airline" also, before Continental Airlines was. The two iterations of BI after the initial bankruptcy of Braniff were really not "Braniff". It’s true that Sun Country became the last remnants of BI, but there really is nothing left of Braniff International.

    Alexander Calder was the artist brought in during the 1970’s, along with fashion designer Halston, to help with the revamping of Braniff by painting some of the jets in the abstract paint jobs, with Halston designing new uniforms and interiors. I used to see the Calder painted planes over Tomball, Texas in the late 70’s, as we were not far from IAH.

    It all happened right at the time of the deregulation. This was basically the death knell of BI, along with the rising fuel prices. The amount of fuel dollars burned per month was just mind boggling.

    There is an excellent documentary on Youtube called "Tail Spin", however, the best video quality is on Howard Putnam’s website.

    If you really want to read an excellent book about Braniff International, pick up a copy of "Splash Of Colors, The Self Destruction of Braniff International" by John L. Nance. Mr. Nance was not only a pilot for Braniff International, but he is also a commentator on either the "Air Crash Investigation" video series or "Air Emergency" video series, if I recall that correctly.

    Read the book for a fascinating outlook on Braniff International. If you can’t find the book, do a search for the pdf version.

    Merry Christmas, All!

  24. NighthawkCarbine on December 23, 2020 at 10:39 pm

    The day Harding Lawrence was hired their demise was guaranteed.

  25. Andrew's Aviation on December 23, 2020 at 10:39 pm

    Comment your Braniff experiences and which airlines you’d like to see next down below!
    Also, see the description for some more information about the airline/citations.

  26. Lee247 on December 23, 2020 at 10:43 pm

    Noice vid subbed

  27. Lee Zinke on December 23, 2020 at 10:43 pm

    3:23 isn’t it the same 747 that blew up in Lockerbie??

  28. dave miller on December 23, 2020 at 10:45 pm

    I had a toy Braniff 747 when I was little back in the 70s. Until I saw this video, I thought all Braniff planes were orange like my toy plane.

  29. Juan Farquhar on December 23, 2020 at 10:49 pm

    And now the airline experience is the equivalent of riding the Greyhound bus in the 1980s, to include the shit smell and blue water.

  30. Follower of Julian on December 23, 2020 at 10:49 pm

    1:44 Delta is not based in Dallas; it is based in Atlanta. WHAT ELSE IS INACCURATE IN THE VIDEO?

  31. William Haynes on December 23, 2020 at 10:50 pm

    End of the south park episodes… that is all most people ever see of the logo anymore

  32. Uncle BooBoo on December 23, 2020 at 10:50 pm

    I wonder if there’s a video to be made about the parallel journeys and demises of TWA and Pan-Am. Both owned by mavericks, both owned the skies in the glamorous 70s age of the 747 and the Jet Set, both barely survived deregulation in the 80s, both operated very elderly aircraft by the 90s (presumably could not fund adequate fleet renewal) and both finally brought down (literally) by 2 tragedies.

  33. Kyle Hill on December 23, 2020 at 10:52 pm

    American Airlines is Fort Worth based NOT Dallas based!

  34. Baron Taylor on December 23, 2020 at 10:53 pm

    I thought they were European

  35. Dana Danarosana on December 23, 2020 at 10:53 pm

    I never flew on them but they sure did expand fast. I remember as a kid in the late 70s/early 80s seeing more and more of that cool randomly colored fleet everytime I got to fly.

  36. Frank Denardo on December 23, 2020 at 10:54 pm

    Deregulation is what caused it to fall.

  37. Devonne West on December 23, 2020 at 10:56 pm

    idk know if this channel is new but I’m so glad I found it, excellent aviation enthusiast channel & love that you explore subjects like where iconic airlines disappeared to. Not your typical subject lines of other channels. Love your voice to, I could listen to you all day! Wishing great success with this channel, you deserve many subs and likes!

  38. Jim T on December 23, 2020 at 10:58 pm


  39. β€’ β€’β€’ on December 23, 2020 at 10:58 pm

    Can you do the rise and fall of pan am idk if u made it’s already I just started to watch your videos

  40. bd5av8r1 on December 23, 2020 at 10:58 pm

    Deregulation killed it.

  41. blaster 0416 on December 23, 2020 at 11:01 pm

    I really like your videos, but the generic B roll often looks like padding.

  42. Peter Nicolaides on December 23, 2020 at 11:01 pm

    I used to fly some of those SA flights that we purchased from Braniff at Eastern Airlines loved Argentina, Peru , Costa Rica, Bolivia and more.😎

  43. RJ Mac on December 23, 2020 at 11:01 pm

    The Calder DC-8 and other artful schemes set Braniff apart.

  44. Springbok295 on December 23, 2020 at 11:02 pm

    Rapid over expansion beginning in 1979 led to a lot of problems. They went on an ordering spree of new 747s. They were flying 747s with only a handful of passengers on routes in the Pacific beyond Hawaii. Increase in domestic routes meant hiring less than desirable ground staff who were poorly trained. American kept pulling the rug out from under BN at DFW. By late 80 into ’81 the writing was on the wall.

  45. 2000 AVIATION on December 23, 2020 at 11:02 pm

    another great video!

  46. Salty Dbacks Fan on December 23, 2020 at 11:04 pm

    I work for Airport Terminal Services (ATS) at Sky Harbor International Airport and we service Westjet and Sun Country here. That was truly interesting to learn SY is the legacy of Braniff

  47. CharlesinGA on December 23, 2020 at 11:05 pm

    At the time of the shutdown, there was a 747 outbound from Dallas with a full load of passengers headed to Hawaii. The company called them and told them to land in LA and discharge the passengers. The captain, knowing the passengers had paid for a trip to Hawaii, continued on and upon arrival, Braniff ground crews, working on their own time, unloaded the aircraft and then loaded the Dallas bound passengers and baggage. The fuel contractor agreed to fuel the airplane, knowing they would never see the money, and the 747 left for Dallas, arriving there some 24 hours after the company shutdown.

    My father who worked for C&S and Delta from 1939 till 1984, used to tell some some stories about how Mr Braniff ran the company. such as purchasing military surplus uniforms after WWII and sewing Braniff patches on them for the employees to wear.

    The Fortune 500 corporate flight department I worked for in the ’80’s had a pilot who was an ex-Braniff 727 FE. He worked the South American runs, and said they would take a plane load of passengers to one of the destinations, not sure now where, La Paz I think, and leave the airplane and bring another airplane back. Braniff was having the seat upholstery replaced with real leather, down there where the leather and the labor were cheap, to keep from paying high import tarriffs into the US on the seat covers, and installing them in Dallas.

  48. Tom West on December 23, 2020 at 11:05 pm

    Miss – no word of PANAGRA.

  49. David Hood on December 23, 2020 at 11:09 pm

    Grandfather was a 727 Flight Engineer and First Officer for Braniff until he was furloughed in 1981. I even have a couple of his old 727 operating handbooks and his flight engineers diagram for the 727

  50. CinemaDemocratica on December 23, 2020 at 11:10 pm

    "Braniff expected their profits to increase, *but* … the exact opposite happened!"

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