The “Golden Age”of air travel. What would your trip be like?

The 1950 and 1960s have become known as the “Golden Age” of flying. It was a time of glamorous air hostesses, gourmet meals, smoking was allowded and there was plenty of legroom for all. So, what would your trip in ’50 and ’60 be like?

Very Expensive

vintage celeb photos Elizabeth Taylor boards a plane  for Hollywood in 1958

Elizabeth Taylor boards a plane  for Hollywood in 1958

According to a TWA brochure from 1955, a round-trip ticket from Chicago to Phoenix cost $138, which was a good deal. If we account for inflation, though, the trip cost about $1,200 in today’s money. Depending on the route, it was up to five times as expensive to fly in the Golden Age. And International travel, was so expensive, only a few could afford it.

You don`t have to go through security

There were no security checkpoints slowing things down, so getting through the airport was pleasant and easy. You could show up at the airport just half an hour before your flight and walk right onto the plane. On the other hand in ’60 there were dozens of plane hijackings, making air travel less pleasant.

More dangerous

Old photo March 1966 plane crash
 March 1966 plane crash

Major crashes today are incredibly rare, especially when it comes to American carriers. In the 1950s and 1960s, U.S.airlines experienced at least a half dozen crashes per year — most leading to fatalities of all on board.

Plenty of legroom for everyone

In 1950s, you didn’t have to pick between business or economy class seats, because there wasn’t a distinction between them. After airlines started adding first-class sections, passengers still had much more legroom than on a modern plane. First-class passengers got a place resembling a hotel room, even with beds, while economy class was more akin to business class nowadays.

Smoke wherever you want

You could smoke cigarettes on airplanes until Feb. 25, 1990. Until the federal government finally banned smoking on all but a handful of domestic flights over six hours in duration. Ten years later, smoking was prohibited on flights between the United States and foreign destinations. Nowadays every commercial flight in the world is smoke-free.

You’d have to dress up

Almost everyone wore their finest clothes to travel. Since in ‘50 flights were a luxurious experience, passengers dressed in appropriate attire: three-piece suits and hats for men, and dresses, high heels, and fine jewelry for women. It was a big event – so wanting to look your best made perfect sense. 

Air hostesses were like movie stars

In the 1950s, air hostesses were like movie stars. They were selected for their looks and there were regulations on how much they could weigh. They had to be single too. And they wore body-sculpted uniforms, corsets, and sometimes white gloves. And always a hat.

 Eat and drink like in a restaurant

1950s and 1960s flying was really expensive, people saved for it and did it occasionally. So passengers expected food and drinks to match. Champagne and brandy flowed endlessly and a flight seemed like a cocktail party in the sky. Lobster and beef carved as you salivated, buffet tables and nicely-folded napkins. As there was not much to do during the flight: reading, talking or eating, some meals lasted for three hours.

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