From Virgin Australia’s purple disco to Etihad’s $27,000 larger than life ‘The Residence‘ suite (or should we say, palace-like room), the aviation giants of 2020 all offer products and experiences that will unhinge your jaw.
But even as technology progresses and we make leaps and bounds in comfort that would put the Marquis de Sade to shame, sometimes we find ourselves thinking: the modern flying experience lacks a bit of soul.
Whether it’s first-class passengers complaining about the little known ‘stressors‘ at the front of the plane or the business class ‘cone of trust‘ being pricked, life at The Pointy End is not as idyllic as it seems.
But things were not always this way. Business and first-class passengers were not always submitted to the whims of rowdy passengers attempting to break David Boone’s record for Martinis across the pacific.
Not to mention: seats were not always measured in terms of “ergonomics” but actually had a little culture (or is it only that we see the value of their culture looking back on them?). In any case: chicken edamame salad was not always a ~thing~.
Whisky was drunk but the passengers weren’t.
A romanticised vision of the past? Sure. But there’s a grain of truth in many stereotypes and this is one of them. In fact, if the following images of the golden era of aviation, recently posted to Instagram by Car & Vintage, are anything to go by, flying in the 60s and 70s was a dream come true.
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Car & Vintage, an account dedicated to cars, art and people with 563k followers, captioned the post as following: “The golden era of aviation. The 10 best vintage plane interiors of all time, from 1960/70.”
“Which one would you choose?”
From spacious fruit platters and
jaundiced yellow 60s colour schemes (and, naturally, oodles of space) to whole legs of (what appears to be) Spanish Iberico ham, some of these jets rival the private plane experiences of today.
They might not be as flashy, but there’s a touch of class you don’t get anymore.
Of course, you had to be rich back then to fly at all, which perhaps explains why the experience was so nice across the board.
Interestingly, as Insider notes, as it became more and more common (relative to decades prior), flying was more relaxed in the 1960s: “Passengers didn’t dress up as much as before, though still looked nicer than we do today.”
“Passengers flying in the 1960s could also fly without any form of ID. That meant that they could just show up to the airport half an hour before departure and walk straight up to the gate. Even loved ones could walk all the way to the gate without a ticket to send people on their way,” Insider also notes and “Security screenings didn’t become mandatory until 1973.”
“Even those were highly relaxed compared to the airport security we go through today.”
As for the 70s, the start of the “Jumbo Jet” era (which made the skies accessible for millions of travelers who previously couldn’t afford it), as you can see in the above photos, even though jets became closer to what we sit in today, “there was plenty of legroom and flight attendants catering to passengers’ every need,” (Insider).
“From 1970 to around 1974, American Airlines even featured a piano lounge in the rear of their 747s, while Pan Am’s 707 Clipper was advertised as being ‘vibration-free.'”
Though technology has moved on, with the current global pandemic shuttering most leisure travellers jet setting hopes for the near future and potentially making globetrotting more expensive in the future, questions are now being asked as to whether, like the predicted imminent hotel industry renaissance, we could now see a return of (or a shift back towards) the golden era of travel – including both the good (exclusivity) and the bad (prices).
Only time and flight bookings will tell.