What Your Typical Day Was Like During ‘The Golden Age’ Of Commercial Flying

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Image Credit: Keith Lovegrove

A Day in the Life During “The Golden Age” of Commercial Flying

If we go back in time to the 1950s through the 1970s, that was the best time to fly. Back then, flying was all about style and comfort. Imagine getting on a plane where the seats, the crew, and everything else were all very classy and fancy. There was a time in aviation history when every ride felt like a big adventure.

Image Credit: Keith Lovegrove

Travellers today have a lot of choices when it comes to booking a flight. There are many ways to find the best price for their trip. During the Golden Age of plane travel, on the other hand, there weren’t as many options, and they were much more expensive. As an example, a TWA brochure from 1955 says that a round-trip ticket from Chicago to Phoenix cost $138. This might look like a good deal at first glance. But if you take inflation into account, this trip that isn’t even across the country would cost about $1,200 today.

Guillaume de Syon, an expert on the history of aviation, talks about the huge differences in prices during the Golden Age. He says, “In the Golden Age, it cost four to five times as much to fly in some routes.” International travel, in particular, was too expensive for most people to afford, so only the richest people could do it.

A feast for the eyes and ears: tasty food and great service

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It was the “golden age” of flying, and airlines did everything they could to please customers with great food and service. Simons adds, “The airlines were advertising their flights as high-class ways to travel.” They had fancy food with things like foie gras and caviar. Some of them even had dress shows! Suzy Smith, who used to work as a flight attendant, remembers, “We started with canapés and then brought out a cart with appetisers like foie gras and beluga caviar.”

Less strict rules and fun memories

Back then, flying was a lot less stressful. Keith Lovegrove loves to talk about traditional flying and remembers how easygoing everything was. It was like going to a party with drinks. Today it seems silly to wear a shirt, tie, and jacket, but that was the norm back then, says Lovegrove. You could bring a lot of things on board, even birds in shoeboxes as pets! There was a lot less security, so people could have more fun. Lovegrove says, “There was a crazy sense of freedom.”

Image Credit: Keith Lovegrove

Pan Am is the coolest airline.

It was Pan Am that really stood out. Joan Policastro, who worked for them, says it felt like being in the sky with the stars. Policastro says, “My job with Pan Am was an adventure from the first day I started.” They had cool bars where people could hang out and served fancy food. It was the height of luxury travel.

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There were a lot of annoying rules that your flight attendant had to follow.

Flight attendants were expected to not only provide excellent service but also follow tight rules about how they should look and act during the Golden Age of air travel. From the early 1950s on, these women, who were called “air hostesses,” wore high heels, white gloves, and even corsets under their clothes.

Airlines had strict rules about how people had to look, including how long their hair had to be and how much they could weigh. Also, female flight attendants were supposed to be single, friendly, and have “high moral standards.” As time went on in the 1960s, clothes became even more showing, with shorter skirts popular with men. These annoying standards show how much importance was put on flight attendant appearance at this time.

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With Love, Looking Back

People still smile when they think about the good old days of flying, even though things have changed. People who used to work for Pan Am form groups like World Wings that keep the stories alive. Suzy Smith says, “Pan Am was a cut above the rest.” That was a thrilling time to fly, and people felt like kings and queens in the sky.

Image Credit: Keith Lovegrove

In conclusion

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The best times to fly may be over, but the experiences will always be there. Back then, flying was a fancy and fun thing to do. Things aren’t the same as they used to be, but we can still remember how magical those times were.

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