The airlines that fly within the US today have long, complicated histories — with business plan changes, bankruptcies, and fatal disasters causing challenges along the way. Seldom are these stories detailed in depth. Therefore, the best place to learn about specific details — like what sparked a vision in an entrepreneur like Herb Kelleher, or what helped Delta survive bankruptcy post 9-11 — is in the books written about airlines. Below are five books about airlines you should read right now (or gift to an aviation lover) that will provide considerable insight into the aviation industry. Please note that this list is completely subjective.
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Glory Lost and Found by Seth Kaplan and Jay Shabat
Delta Air Lines had quite a dramatic turnaround post-9/11, with the airline coming out stronger and fresher than ever before. Glory Lost and Found explains the "magic formula" that Delta found and how the airline continues to thrive following its merger with Northwest Airlines in an era of stiff competition.
BlueStreak by Barbara Peterson
BlueStreak is devoted to telling the inside story of the origins of jetBlue and what tools and strategies the airline used to differentiate itself from its competition. Optimizing details as minute as staff training allowed the airline to get an edge over its competition. While creating an airline is undoubtedly difficult, the book might even lead you to believe that the process is simple if you have cutting-edge ideas that produce immediate success.
Nuts!: Southwest Airlines' Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success by Kevin and Jackie Freiberg
Nuts! will give you a newfound appreciation for the lesser-known staff members within Southwest Airlines and will provide a perspective on how humor and fun within the workplace produces quality outcomes in the realm of customer satisfaction and loyalty. Many of the elements in the airline industry today — from low-cost carriers to point-to-point route networks — arise from the genius of the executives at Southwest; the book covers it all!
Twelve Years of Turbulence: The Inside Story of American Airlines' Battle for Survival by Gary Kennedy
Twelve Years of Turbulence explains just how close to death American Airlines was post-9/11. The author, Gary Kennedy, served as the airline's General Counsel at the time and shares his "insider perspective" into the litigation process as the airline managed labor disputes and bankruptcy proceedings.
Turnaround Time: Uniting an Airline and Its Employees in the Friendly Skies by Oscar Munoz
This last piece of nonfiction on United Airlines has yet to hit shelves(at the time of writing), but will surely be an informative read covering a more modern-day airline recovery within the last ten years. Being the former CEO of United Airlines, Oscar Munoz has quite the perspective and covers the period after 2015, when he assumed the CEO role. During his time, he was able to unite employees within the company to produce a forward-looking, sleek new brand that completely transformed the airline's brand.
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