Southwest – What's LUV Got to Do With It?

All You Need is Luv

Forget those weird airport codes. Stock market symbols for airlines can be just as strange.

For example, why does this week’s airline newsmaker – that would be Southwest, of course – trade as LUV? Because the carrier is based at Dallas’ Love Field – and they couldn’t get LOV because that’s being used by a website for singles (ahem).

And Southwest is forever sharing that “luv” by putting it on souvenirs and in ad campaigns, not to mention their signature heart-shaped drink stirrers, should you order a cocktail.

The Definition of MEH

Not every airline gets a cool name like LUV, though, which leads me to Midwest. Since it’s being folded into Frontier, it goes under its parent company stock symbol – RJET for Republic – but not so long ago, it traded as MEH. Meh? Yes, meh – or as the Urban Dictionary defines it: “a verbal shrug of the shoulders.” It should have been CKY for those delicious chocolate chip goodies they were once famous for.

Speaking of mergers, the new United/Continental airline – which will be called United, will start trading as UAL on Oct. 1, which is a lot better than UAUA which it had been using, had been using (okay, I was trying to be funny).

HOG is the Symbol for Which Company?

If you seek an explanation for these symbols, the New York Stock Exchange says, “In each marketplace, the NYSE, the American Stock Exchange, and others – allocates symbols for companies within its purview, working closely to avoid duplication.” Well, clearly they work with the companies as well, which explains why Harley-Davidson’s stock symbol is HOG and why the Molson Coors Brewing Company symbol is TAP.

None of the airlines’ symbols are quite so amusing, though you might get a laugh out of Hawaiian’s – its symbol is HA. Sounds a little smug, doesn’t it? But then, the airline is based in a tropical paradise so maybe they can afford to gloat.

I know what you’re thinking; why don’t all they just trade under the symbol FEE? Or let’s get really creative: how about JetBlue trading as WHEE – the sound a flight attendant makes as he slides down the emergency chute in a spectacular exit?

Animal Symbols

Or what if we did away with symbols altogether and just went with pictures, like Aer Lingus’ shamrock or Qantas’ kangaroo? Remember, Delta used to have a character called Dusty the Air Lion (say “air lion” real fast) and don’t forget Larry (the Lynx) from Frontier.

Actually, some may already think US Airways has a horse for a mascot – well, maybe. Such confusion could stem from the fact that the airline’s stock symbol is LCC – which some might get mixed up with Laredo Community College – home of the proud Palominos.

Maybe.

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Published: September 29, 2010