Air travel in the 50s and 60s sucked


Yeah, but the 70s? The 70s were golden. :wink:

Smoking, drinking, salaciousness, vomiting, and being sealed into a tube for hours on end? Except for the post cards it sounds like my early twenties.


“It was boring” - translation - you didn’t have a zillion electronic gadgets, and you expected this, so you brought a book. Which you would be able to read easily, because you didn’t have the screens of a zillion electronic gadgets flickering in your peripheral vision. Oh, the horror?


The picture of people standing at the bar reminded me of a Dylan Thomas description of one of his flights (as recounted by John Malcom Brinnin). He was too shy to talk to any of his fellow passengers, so he spent most of the overnight flight in the bar drinking and talking to the bartender.

I first read that on an eight-hour flight over the Atlantic. There was a bar? Where you could sit and talk to a bartender? The only chance I got to talk to the really nice flight attendant who kept bringing me free scotch was when I was deplaning and he shook my hand and said, “Don’t drink too much this Christmas.”

Yes, it was more expensive and you were more likely to die and there were sharp edges, but it sounds like it wasn’t all bad.

Next up from Brownlee: World War Two Was Awesome Because You Got To Shoot Guns And Shit, And They Had Real Flamethrowers.

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They lumped in Concorde with '50s and '60s air travel, although it didn’t fly until 1969 and, more importantly, didn’t begin passenger service until the mid-1970s. Not sure it means much anyway, since a small percentage of air passengers (and, in the 70s, still a smaller percentage of the population) ever flew on it.

But what about their claim that “during a time when all portable music came over the radio, there wasn’t even the option to plug in a pair of headphones and listen to music during your flight until 1985”? Well, if we want to stretch this time frame to the 1970s – even just the early '70s – airplanes have had headphones since I can remember (at least on 707s and jumbo jets), and presumably they existed before that (40+ years ago). Walkman-type devices have been around for more than 30 years (and in 1980 I can remember a guy playing a boombox on an AQ inter-island flight, although presumably he wasn’t supposed to). They had in-flight movies, too, at least on long-range and/or wide-body flights.

Even without audio-video, most airlines gave kids a pair of wings and a comic book (e.g. Harvey’s AstroComics for AA) or coloring book (PanAm, QANTAS); playing cards for the asking; pen and paper; an assortment of magazines for borrowing (in addition to the airline’s own in-flight magazine).

American’s 747s had a piano lounge in the back, at least until pilots complained about the uneven weight distribution (for that matter, some of their 707s – narrow-body airliners – still had a first-class lounge into the '70s).

Everything I’ve just mentioned was after desegregation, after the era that the article describes, though ticket prices were still more expensive than today. I think some of these amenities lasted a few years after deregulation, as well (I can remember asking for, and getting, a magazine in '96 but I’m not sure when they went away).

I don’t miss the smoking section one bit, though. We always flew standby (my dad worked for AA) and often as not we were stuck in the smoking section.

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the present day must be awesomer, because civilians can not only get real flamethrowers, they are bought on the internet and mailed to your home. not really on-topic but that’s all I can think about whenever someone mentions flamethrowers now

A poorly researched article with several obviously false assertions.


That struck me, too. Funny, I don’t remember spending all my time staring blankly at a wall before tablets and smartphones were invented. Damn kids…my lawn…etc.

Although if one of my flights over Thanksgiving was any indication, copious vomiting is still a possibility. Three kids booted during take off. The smell of pipe tobacco would have been a welcome alternative.


Enjoy setting fire to the nice straw man he set up to distract from the last dozen year’s worth of decline.

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To more or less, justify the costs, monetary and otherwise, of Our Modern Lifestyle. What’d FastCompany do, buy copy from Delta’s Sky mag?

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