Santa Claus and PSA

As early as 1963, Santa was seen on PSA.

SANTA AND FRIENDS - An affectionate Santa Claus (crooked mustache, et. al.) is greeted by PSA stewardess Vicky Haden (left) and Norma Birdsong as he made one of his many appearances on Pacific Southwest Airlines' Christmas Eve flights. PSA photo.

Santa was spotted again in 1967, this time disembarking from a PSA jet in San Diego. PSA photo.

SANTA
AND FRIENDS - An affectionate Santa Claus (crooked mustache, et. al.)
is greeted by PSA stewardess Vicky Haden (left) and Norma Birdsong as he
made one of his many appearances on Pacific Southwest Airlines'
Christmas Eve flights.It brought tears
to the eyes of an old man. A small boy immediately began listing the
toys he wanted for Christmas. And an elderly woman - half-skepically,
half-believingly - commented, "That WAS a PSA employee, wasn't it?"

Such
were the reactions of passengers aboard Pacific Southwest Airlines'
flights Christmas Eve night as Santa Claus himself made appearances on
most of PSA's evening flights between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Believed
to be a first in airline travel, the Santa Claus flights resulted from a
suggestion by a PSA employee, Steve Barinek of the fueling department,
to President J. Floyd Andrews. It was suggested that Santa make a brief
appearance on the flights with a simple "Merry Christmas." Andrews,
however, felt that the new innovation be expanded to include a personal
greeting and the passing of candy favors to every passenger.

PSA
officials commented that they were amazed with the response of
passengers on the special Santa Claus flights. Most natural response was
a burst of applause as Santa walked into the main cabin.

Crews
for the special flights followed a script in which a running commentary
was given that a strange object had been spotted on the aircraft's radar
screen. Minutes later, an announcement was made that a sleigh and eight
reindeer were circling the plane. And more than one passenger -
children and adults alike - promptly looked out the window
half-expecting to see Santa in his annual trek around the world.

Reactions
to Santa's appearance ran the gamut from tears from elderly people to
squeals of joy from small children. One elderly gentleman in his sixties
was seen wiping away a tear as he exchanged what must have been his
first comments with Santa in nearly a half-century. One small boy
couldn;t be contained by his parents as he began to rattle off a long
list of wants to Santa - much to the delight of nearby passengers. And
the elderly woman wasn't really sure if it was Santa or not as she saw
him depart with a cheery "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good
night" farewell.

Andrews, meanwhile, admitted negotiations were
already underway with the North Pole for a repeat performance by Santa
during subsequent PSA Christmas Eve flights.

Santa Claus stting in the cockpit of the Super 80, with Diane Phillips (left) and Paula Tracy (right) on the stairs. PSA photo.

Santa Claus gets a helping hand from Paula Tracy, left, and Diane Phillips, both of accounting, on his recent visit to PSA. PSA photo.

From 1981:

If
the medium is the message, then Val Bronson has been able to deliver
the message of Christmas good cheer by one of the most well-known
symbols in the field - Santa Claus.

Bronson, 43-year old maintenance
inspection supervisor at PSA's San Diego headquarters, said, "I began
working with Santa Claus about five years ago when he made it known that
Christmas was way too commercial for him." During the year, Bronson
makes contact with various local institutions and families to pass on to
Santa Claus. A 25-year veteran of PSA, Bronson makes his contacts
through his church.

When the jolly gentleman in red visits this
part of the country, he picks up Bronson's list. "My wife, Sandy, helps
me prepare that list," Bronson said. "I get Santa to visit nursery
schools and families who need some cheering up. We even got Santa to
hand out candies aboard airplanes at the San Diego PSA terminal last
year. It was his way of extending PSA's smiling, friendly service."

Bronson
said Santa Claus doesn't distribute free gifts. "Santa points out that
the spirit of giving is represented in the gift offered through the
parents. He tells the youngsters that the parents enable him and his
elves to keep busy all year until he makes his rounds at christmastime.
He enjoys it," Bronson said.

Photos taken from January 1964, December 1967, and December 1981 Skylines. Articles taken from the same issues.