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An exclusive look at Southwest Airlines’ historical archives and Emeritus suite

Yahoo Finance’s Adam Shapiro gets an EXCLUSIVE look at the Emeritus suite at Southwest Airlines HQ which honors the legacy of Herb Kelleher and Colleen Barrett.

[TRANSCRIPT]

West: This was the very first server that southwest.com ran off of. Southwest was the very first airline to sell tickets online and this is where it all started. These are the hot pants worn onboard by our hostesses — now flight attendants. And those were the boots that they wore.

Shapiro: So she’s one of the originals and she’s, as it says, “Still got it. Still at it.”

West: She is Sandra Force. So, she was hired in October of 1971 and still flies today. We have five flight attendants that are still working that were employed in that first year at Southwest. We're heading into our Emeritus suite, which are the offices of Herb Kelleher and Colleen Barrett, our chairman and president emeritus of Southwest.

Shapiro: This office is this. I mean, these are actually his possessions. That was his chair. This is, as it appeared for decades?

West: Everything down to the cough drops that you see and his telephone and everything else in this office is authentic to the very last day that Herb came into the office in late 2018. This is what Herb Kelleher went to court in 1967 for and went all the way to the door of the United States Supreme Court to actually have the right to operate. So without that document, there would be no Southwest airlines.

Shapiro: So this is kind of the Declaration of Independence for Southwest.

West: It very much is.

Shapiro: I am curious, this knife?

West:Herb was a tremendous supporter of the military. It goes back to his brother actually died in World War II. And he became a collector of all the memorabilia that you'll see around his office from those who served.

Shapiro: Did he have a favorite item in here?

West: One thing that he pointed out quite a bit was the image with Jim McDivitt and Neil Armstrong. So, both Apollo era astronauts and that was something that, you know, he had an immense amount of pride in.

Shapiro: What does he still mean? What is his legacy for the 54,000 people who work for Southwest?

West: I think it's having fun while doing what you love. That was always important. And herb is the chairman of fun at Southwest. So, Herb and Colleen met in 1967 down in San Antonio when he was an attorney and he hired Colleen as his legal assistant to basically put some order to what was becoming a really busy career as a lawyer as well and also as a founder of Southwest. And she stuck with him through thick and thin. Became an employee of Southwest in 1978. And then in 2001, when Herb retired as CEO and president, Coleen succeeded him as president of the airline. And that was a title that she held until she retired in 2008. And you'll also see just an immense amount of her personal family and the employees of Southwest.

Shapiro: The idea of the heart for Southwest and love does that come out of Colleen? Does that come out of Herb? Cause I've heard that he was kind of the, the, the business guy, pushed things forward and she was the heart of the airline.And is that accurate?

West: Definitely. It actually goes all the way back to 1971 when we established operations at Dallas Love Field. A lot of people think it was named after Southwest. And as much as we'd love to say it was, it wasn't. It was actually named after a deceased Army Air Corps member back in 1917. But we thought that it went well with the brand that we wanted to be and the corporate identity to go along with our home here at Love Field. And it kind of grew from there.

Video Transcript

RICHARD WEST: This was the very first server that southwest.com ran off of. Southwest was the very first airline to sell tickets online, and this is where it all started.

[MUSIC]

These are the hot pants worn on board by our hostesses, now flight attendants. And those were the boots that they wore.

ADAM SHAPIRO: So she's one of the originals and she's, as it says, still got it, still at it.

RICHARD WEST: She is. Sandra Force. So she was hired in October of 1971 and still flies today. We have five flight attendants that are still working that were employed in that first year at Southwest. We're heading into our emeritus suite which are the offices of Herb Kelleher and Colleen Barrett our chairman and President Emeritus of Southwest.

ADAM SHAPIRO: This office, is this? I mean, these are actually his possessions. That was his chair. This is as it appeared for decades.

RICHARD WEST: Everything down to the cough drops that you see, and his telephone, and everything else in this office is authentic to the very last day that Herb came into the office in late 2018. This is what Herb Kelleher went to court in 1967 for and went all the way to the door of the United States Supreme Court to actually have the right to operate. So without that document, there would be no Southwest Airlines.

ADAM SHAPIRO: So this is kind of a declaration of independence for Southwest.

RICHARD WEST: It very much is.

ADAM SHAPIRO: I am curious. This knife.

RICHARD WEST: Herb was a tremendous supporter of the military. It goes back to his brother actually died in World War II. And he became a collector of all the memorabilia that you'll see around his office from those who serve.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Did he have a favorite item in here?

RICHARD WEST: One thing that he pointed out quite a bit was the image with Jim McDivitt and Neil Armstrong. So both Apollo era astronauts. That was something that he had an immense amount of pride in.

ADAM SHAPIRO: What does he still mean? What is his legacy for the 54,000 people who work for Southwest?

RICHARD WEST: I think it's having fun while doing what you love. That was always important, and Herb is the chairman of fun at Southwest.

[MUSIC]

So Herb and Colleen met in 1967 down in San Antonio when he was an attorney. And he hired Colleen as his legal assistant to basically put some order to what was becoming a really busy career as a lawyer, as well, and also, as a founder of Southwest. And she stuck with him through thick and thin. Became an employee of Southwest in 1978.

And then in 2001, when Herb retired as CEO and president, Colleen succeeded him as president of the airline. And that was a title that she held until she retired in 2008. And you'll also see just an immense amount of her personal family and the employees of Southwest.

ADAM SHAPIRO: The idea of the heart for Southwest and love, does that come out of Colleen? Does that come out of her? Because I've heard that he was kind of the business guy, push things forward, and she was the heart of the airline. Is that accurate?

RICHARD WEST: Definitely. It actually goes all the way back to 1971 when we established operations at Dallas Love Field. A lot of people think it was named after Southwest. And as much as we'd love to say it was, it wasn't. It was actually named after a deceased Army Air Corps member back in 1917. But we thought that it went well with the brand that we wanted to be and the corporate identity to go along with our home here at Love Field. And it kind of grew from there.

[MUSIC]