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Trunk Airlines - United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines

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Trunk Airlines Explained

The term ‘trunk airline’ dates back to the beginning of scheduled passenger flights in the US in the 1930s. It was used as a generic term to describe common airlines that were authorized to provide interstate service by The Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938.

Trunk airlines provided scheduled domestic and, in some cases, international air service. In 1938, there were 15 recognised trunk airlines operating within America. The big four were American Airlines, Eastern Air Lines, Trans World Airlines, and United Airlines.

Major Airlines

The term can be traced through the early decades of airline deregulation - following the Airline Deregulation Act passed by Congress in 1978. From the early 21st century, these major airline corporations began to be known as major airlines, or ‘legacy carriers’.

Following a number of mergers and bankruptcies, there are three of the original trunk carriers left: United AirlinesAmerican Airlines, and Delta Air Lines.

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What did the Airline Deregulation Act do?

The US Airline Deregulation Act is a US federal law that was introduced in 1978. It deregulated the airline industry in the United States, by removing the federal government’s control over areas within the industry including fares and routes. Deregulation introduced a new free market in the commercial airline industry.

How can I book flight tickets on a trunk carrier?

Through Alternative Airlines! Alternative Airlines is a UK based travel agency, and it is easy to search and book flights on over 600 airlines from around the world, including all major airlines including Delta, United, and American Airlines. Simply use the search bar above - enter your chosen departure and arrival destination and press search. You can even filter the results by airline!