It’s the stuff of old TV shows and movies today, but there was a time when air travel truly went through a golden age. In the days when Champagne was served as a normal event, when chefs were on hand to prepare incredible food and when everyone was determined to look their very best while onboard planes, traveling by air was a very different experience. There’s a lot lacking when it comes to traveling by air in the postmodern world. Here at five things about those golden days of flying that we miss most.
Everyone Got Dressed Up
These days, people go to the airport literally wearing their pajamas and carrying pillows. But during the glitz and glamor of the jet age in the 1950s and '60s, dressing to impress was the norm for airplane travel. Women wore their pearls and men dressed in perfectly pressed suits while everyone smoked cigarettes with small, metal ashtrays during the flight. Traveling by plane was a luxury, and everyone dressed for the experience.
Meals Were Meant for Fine Dining
It's inconceivable now, but during those golden days of air travel, actual chefs were on board planes to prepare lavish meals. Using large kitchen knives, they carved ham and roast beef, dished up buttery lobster and turned meals into a fine dining experience for every guest. Fresh fruit, fancy pastries and other delights were provided back then for all passengers.
Real porcelain dishes were used for meal service during those golden days. And sometimes, passengers even had the option of looking at menus to choose what they wanted to eat. Believe it or not, many flights also had a sommelier onboard to help passengers choose the best wine to go with their food. Often, the food was served by waiters wearing white gloves. Imagine salmon garnished with lemon and fresh herbs...and now imagine you can actually eat that sort of thing on a plane. Once, this was all possible.
Flight Attendants Were Truly Attentive
During the golden age of flight, the flight attendants were extremely attentive. They were charged with giving each and every passenger an experience, and they took it seriously. Airlines hired many more attendants for flights in those days, and these staff members would frequently ask guests if they were happy, comfortable and had everything they wanted during the trip.
Planes Were Comfortable
People who are used to seeing tiny, cramped airplane interiors would be shocked at the jets from the '50s and 1960s. Back then, planes were designed to be much more comfortable for each and every passenger. Planes were also built with areas where passengers could play cards, chess and other games during the flight, and people could stretch their legs out. Seats went all the way back, so it really was possible to get good sleep. No one brought their own pillows because the airlines provided them. And yes, the pillows were full size.
The Bathrooms Were Way, Way Better
Better service, better food, more comfort — there are lots of things to miss about those good old days of air travel. But the change that hurts the most when it comes to modern air travel is the bathrooms. Back in those golden days when airlines provided luxury, airplane bathrooms came equipped with small vanity tables and an array of lotions and products to use. Bathrooms back then had mirrors allowing you to see your entire face clearly. That's a far cry from an airplane bathroom today.