One Old Sage

Thoughts, Stories, and Bits of Wisdom

Remember When Air Travel Was Fun?

English: Busy Lufthansa flight-attendants in k...

Busy flight-attendants in kitchen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was a point in our lives when getting there really was half the fun.

No long line ups for security; no worries about getting a pat down that your doctor wouldn’t even think of giving you; taking that full bottle of wine or scotch in your carry on because you didn’t want to risk it getting stolen from your checked luggage; having a real hot meal on a flight over three hours; getting bumped to First Class because you wore proper traveling attire. Ah yes, those were the good old days of air travel.

Linda and I used to look as forward to the trip as much as we did the destination. As we progressed in our careers and had a fair amount of disposable income and no children to worry about providing for, we spared no expense on our travels. Our choice of air travel was either First Class or Business Class.

Now bear in mind when we started traveling to Hawaii, we could purchase return tickets for a little over $700 for First Class seats. It was a heady experience.

Western Airlines put “pubs” in all the First Class sections of their DC-10’s. We could sidle up to the bar and order beer, champagne, liquor, wine or cocktail of our choice. There was no encouragement to remain seated, no worries about having one too many (although there should have been), and a great sense of fun by everyone in the cabin. The flight attendants were all charming and were willing to talk to you, time permitting, of course.

We would arrive at our destination happy to be there and usually quite relaxed from the flight. (No, not from the booze as neither of us are big drinkers.)

I don’t need to tell anyone who has flown in this day and age what a lousy experience it can be. Even Business Class lacks the flair that was shown in the “old” days.

I remember having filet mignon cut to order at my seat; service with real china and silverware; champagne served in good champagne glasses; and flight attendants that were interested in our well-being as “guests” of the airline.

When I’m waiting to board an aircraft these days, I keep waiting for the ground service personnel to make an announcement similar to this:

“Attention all passengers traveling in Cattle Class! We will be boarding your cattle hauler in a moment. I would like to remind you that we have a full shipment today so please leave any items that you are carrying with you at the top of the gangway so that one of our handlers can properly stow them for you.

Since we have such a full flight today, we ask that anyone with young’uns, please hold them on your lap. Our highly trained wranglers inside the hauler will ensure that we strap them down sufficiently so that in the event of turbulence they won’t fly out of your lap.

If you are eating anything, remember that we may ask you to share with your fellow travelers as we never put enough highly sought after and poor nutrient based food on board for everyone. After all, we need to save weight and space so that we can squeeze more of you into the hauler.

Just a reminder for those of you that have been fattening up over the summer, I mean, who are carrying a little extra weight, you will be weighed on the ramp and you will be charged excess baggage fees for anything over our arbitrary weight limit.

For those of you in Business and First Class, thank you for making it possible for us to get this flight off the ground by paying the exorbitant rate we charged you for the ticket. On-board, we will treat you with our usual degree of indifference, sorry my bad, our usual high degree of service and thank you for flying Bovine Airways.”

A little harsh perhaps but sometimes it feels like that.

I know times have changed and we can’t go back and reality I don’t want to go back on most things. But couldn’t we at least have a little of the old airline service back?

15 comments on “Remember When Air Travel Was Fun?

  1. ramblingsfromamum
    April 28, 2013

    Hello Nelson, I haven’t been fortunate to fly 1st or business class (perhaps if I win a lottery they may happen) yes it’s been cattle class for me each time, knees up underneath chins, not being able to sleep, walking up and down to stop the possibility of thrombosis happening. I have travelled to quite a few places, however going to Europe from Australia – was by far the worst. Arriving blood shot eyed from lack of sleep and cranky to match, not a pleasant experience for anyone :-) You mentioned Service??? Do remind me what that is again? :-) Wonderful post Nelson once more, than you.

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      April 29, 2013

      I can’t even imagine a trip from Australia to Europe. I find the thought of even flying from Canada to Australia too daunting! The only time we old retired folks can afford Business Class now is if the cruise line makes us a special offer. We took one of their special deals last year for a cruise from Dover to Copenhagen. The Business Class both ways was very nice I must say.

      Yes, service is definitely a thing of the past.

  2. Rivki Silver
    April 27, 2013

    I vaguely, vaguely remember flying not being a wretched experience (though I’ve never flown business class, ever!). Air travel has become so icky, and especially with three small children, that we elected to drive to my in-laws for our last trip. That’s over 900 miles in the car with little kids. And that’s a better choice. Say a lot, doesn’t it?

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      April 28, 2013

      Wow, you really are glutton for punishment. I think a 900 mile trip with little ones would make me take the airplane but I certainly understand your desire to take the car. I’ve seen lots of people struggling with young families and it only takes one irritable child to spoil the trip for you and some of your fellow passengers.

      • Rivki Silver
        April 28, 2013

        Haha, the trip there was fine, but the trip back – oy! I find it very stressful to be the family with three little kids that everyone looks at nervously. Also, kids are unpredictable travelers, and I’d rather deal with tantrums in private (and I’m sure many of the other passengers prefer that, too!). :)

  3. coachdaddyblogger
    April 27, 2013

    I’m glad we can regale in stories like yours from yesteryear. I’ve never known such a golden age of air travel. I know only the post 9/11 incantation, in which I had to sweat out the 12-oz. bottle of vanilla I smuggled in from the Dominican Republic in my suitcase!

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      April 27, 2013

      We traveled to Florida to join a cruise in November following 9/11. Things were still in the everything is a threat stage. I must admit that seeing soldiers carrying automatic weapons while walking amongst the passengers was both reassuring and a bit disconcerting. Your comment about the vanilla broke me up. I think we’ve all been there one time or another.

  4. Jane Campbell
    April 26, 2013

    I had to laugh out loud at the “Cattle Class” analogy. Long gone are the days of classy service – sign of the times, right?
    Still following your blog and enjoying every musing!
    Thank you!

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      April 27, 2013

      Thank you for following. I hope to be a little more consistent in the number of times I post. You are so right on the bygone days of classy service.

  5. Anka
    April 26, 2013

    Filet Mignon? I wish. We haven’t traveled much since having kids, but I can imagine how much has changed. I do remember that we would at least get a bag of peanuts before our meal when we flew to Hawaii. I don’t recall being served a snack during the flight over. Of course, we were traveling Coach.

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      April 27, 2013

      Whenever we travel in Coach nowadays we try to pack something to eat. It really is a crap shoot if you even get a bag of peanuts on flight. Also, if you want an alcoholic beverage, be sure you have your credit card handy. Cash certainly isn’t king anymore. *sigh*

  6. Diane Henders
    April 25, 2013

    “Bovine Airways” – *snicker!*

    This is why I fly Westjet whenever I can. There are no perks, but at least they have a sense of humour. After I get through the security ordeal, a corny joke and a sincere smile make me feel a little better about the whole thing.

    But I do remember the “good old days” when I liked to fly. Back when I could travel with only a small carry-on instead of having to check a suitcase just because I have the rebel desire to carry a bottle of shampoo and a nail file. *sigh*

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      April 26, 2013

      I’m with you on Westjet. We’ve flown them right from the beginning. I still shudder whenever I think of flying AC on short hausl. The last good flight we had on them was to Europe in their Business Class. I loved the pod!

  7. Lynette d'Arty-Cross
    April 25, 2013

    What a great post, wonderfully written! :) I couldn’t agree with you more – it is now very much like being hauled around in a cattle liner. I have been fortunate enough to fly privately and it has been so wonderful – a separate terminal, no security lines, absolutely fabulous!

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      April 26, 2013

      OK, I am officially envious! :) Enjoy it as long as possible. There will always be great memories of that type of travel especially every time you have to pass through security in the future.

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