Remember Hooters? That wing joint famous for its waitresses in skimpy outfits? Well, did you know they actually tried their hand at the airline business back in 2003?
Just like the Europeans and their notoriously cheap Ryanair, Hooters Air aimed to offer cheap flights for travelers. But here’s the twist: they always had at least two Hooters girls on board to cater to the passengers’ needs.
The early 2000s brought a lot of interesting business ideas in to fruition, and at first, things looked promising for Hooters Air. They offered affordable one-way flights to 15 American cities, including Denver and Los Angeles, among other cities, for a fixed rate of $129. It was a bargain for those who couldn’t afford to shell out entire paychecks to see their families on the other side of the country.
People were definitely intrigued by the airline, wondering what it would be like to take a flight on a bar-themed 747. And besides the Hooters girls, there were three certified flight attendants taking care of the bare necessities, including snacks, drinks, equipment maintenance, and more. Unlike the Hooters girls that were onboard, these flight attendants were trained to help in the event of any airborne mishaps.
It was a pretty standard flight experience, just with some extra entertainment.
]The Hooters girls, dressed in their trademark tank tops and orange shorts with owl logos, were there to entertain the passengers. They played trivia games, and, for some passengers (likely middle-aged men on work trips) made the flights more enjoyable.
Unfortunately, despite its initial success, Hooters Air hit a major roadblock in 2006 and ended up losing a whopping $40 million. Airline industry analyst Henry Harteveldt explained that Hooters Air launched when the industry was still recovering from the aftermath of 9/11. People were hesitant to fly, and the market was getting more competitive with low-cost carriers like Southwest coming into the fold.
Rising fuel prices also didn’t help their financial situation. All these factors made it impossible for Hooters Air to keep up.
However, it’s worth noting that Hooters Air did have a positive impact on certain economies, particularly in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where it was headquartered. In fact, it brought in thousands of tourists each year and created numerous job opportunities for the locals.
Fast forward to today, and Hooters is celebrating its 40th anniversary. But it’s not all good news. The chain has seen a decline in recent years, with fewer locations across the United States compared to a decade ago.
At its peak, Hooters had around 430 establishments, but now there are only 311 in the US. And as of the beginning of 2023, that number dropped even further to 308. However, Hooters still has a presence internationally, with locations in various parts of the world. Whether you’re in Africa, Asia, Europe, or South America, you can enjoy some, well, wings.
So let’s raise a glass and have some wings in honor of Hooters Air. Cheers to the weirder times!