What It Was Like During The Golden Age Of Flying

What It Was Like During The Golden Age Of Flying

[MUSIC PLAYING] The 1950s and ’60s
are often regarded as the golden age of airlines,
offering luxurious seating, fancy meals, and beaming
flight attendants. But while it was certainly
roomier than today’s modern sardine can
technique of travel, there was also a fair share
of less desirable details unseen in the black and
white evidence left behind. So what was it really like
to fly during the Elvis era? Let’s take a trip through the
many ups and downs of getting around in the olden days. Hope you like cigarettes,
lots and lots of cigarettes. It’s about to get Mad Men
cloudy up in these skies. Before we depart, please make
sure you fasten your seatbelts, and subscribe to the
Weird History Channel. For all the complaints
of modern air travel, there is no denying that it’s
significantly more affordable than it has ever been to fly. This is mostly thanks to
a push for deregulation starting in the
1970s, a decision that led to competing prices and
the number of air passengers to subsequently triple in
the 40 years to follow. Flash back to the
golden age, and it wasn’t uncommon to pay five
times as much as you would today, creating a business
solely accommodating the wealthy. According to one TWA
brochure from 1955, a round-trip ticket
from Chicago to Phoenix went for a deceptive
total of $138. When accounted for
inflation, that amount translates to roughly
$1,200 in modern dough, and that’s not even
a cross-country trip. [MUSIC PLAYING] It’s hard to imagine wearing a
tight-fitting Sunday’s finest to spend hours
sitting elbow to elbow with a congested stranger, but
this was exactly the case back in the days of Don Draper. Due to the high cost
of travel, many people would save up in order
to fly, making the ordeal way more of an anticipated
event than a vacation hindrance. Acceptable attire
was more commonly three-piece suits for men and
dresses and jewelry for women. As flights became more
common and prices went down, the formality slowly
waned until the 1980s, when travelers began
dressing for comfort rather than appearance. Nice sweatpants, Chachi. Despite the deregulation
of airline to the 1970s, one area the government
got more involved in was airport security. Of course, anyone
who has recently taken the shoeless
walk through the TSA is more than aware of that. Before the days of metal
detectors and body scans and pat-downs, airports
were more like bus stations than the checkpoint-laden
terminals of today. Not only could passengers
arrive as late as 20 minutes before their flight, but be
joined by friends and family all the way to the gate. No ID? No problem. Truly was the 1960s a
golden age for convenience, just as long as you don’t mind
getting your airplane hijacked every now and then. And when we say “now
and then,” we literally mean dozens of times a year. In fact, thanks to the lack
of security, between the years 1968 and 1972, there were 130
American airplane hijackings, sometimes more than
one on the same day. Now that I think
about it, maybe having to throw away your mouthwash
isn’t such a bad thing after all. Forget those extra
leg room fees. Airlines in the
1950s actually went the extra mile to
ensure your stems were given the
five-star treatment. What would be considered
first class leg room today was commonplace for the
average traveler of yesterday. Early flights had no distinction
between business or economy class seating, and when they
did finally add a first class, coach-going passengers
were still given ample room to wiggle their toes. So if the so-called cheap
seats had plenty of space, what did the first
class passengers get? A hotel room with wings? Depending on the airline, the
better paying accommodations had everything
from dining tables to bunk beds to full lounges. Dangerous? Probably. Comfortable? Definitely. Believe it or not,
in-flight smoking only became banned in the
US as late as the 2000s. Before then,
passengers were allowed to light up on certain flights
longer than a few hours. In the ’50s and ’60s,
however, smoking was non-stop and
downright common. In fact, the only place
you couldn’t smoke was in the airport
terminal, as companies feared that a flame might
ignite nearby fumes. Along with allowing
cigarettes, airlines often provided free alcohol to help
passengers pass the time. After all, these were the days
before smartphones and Wi-Fi. Besides getting
hammered, airlines would entertain
passengers with postcards they were encouraged to
fill out for loved ones, because there’s no better time
to write home than when you’re drunk in a turbulent tin can. Unless you’re
willing to pay extra, most modern air travelers can
hope for a few bags of chips and a plastic cup of Coke. Back in the golden
age, economy passengers were fed fare comparable
to an upscale restaurant. The menu often included lobster,
roast beef, or prime rib served with champagne or brandy. Meals were served over
multiple courses on real china and glassware. While this sounds like an
endless luxury that trumps even the nicest first class
seats, the entire ordeal was primarily used to
distract passengers from the less modern
fallbacks of ’50s flying, because with all these
bells and whistles, the golden age of getting
around was downright torturous. We’ve talked a lot about
the many extinct comforts of ’50s air travel,
but have you wondered why the airlines felt
such a need for luxury in the first place? It wasn’t just the
high prices that drove this golden
age of comfort, but rather the need to
compensate for the subpar technology of the times. For starters, until the
’60s, passenger planes were propeller models like
the Lockheed Constellation and Douglas DC 7. Along with being
unpressurized, low flying, and bumpy, these type of
planes were extremely loud. We don’t see air sickness
as much nowadays, but back when planes
couldn’t navigate over or around bad
weather, vomit bags were a regular necessity, not
to mention that these smaller planes often required
passengers to take four or five separate flights
to travel longer distances. With such small planes
and clunkier engines, walking the aisles was like a
deadly game of American Ninja Warrior. The combination of
turbulence and relaxed safety meant that the many comforting
decorations, real cutlery, and lounge seating became a very
uncomfortable obstacle course. This only got worse with the
introduction of first class, as the partitions used
to section of the plane were often made from
extremely shatterable glass. One surprise bump, and
a trip to the bathroom became an impromptu
stunt spectacular. Combine all this with the
fact that you were over four times more likely to die
on a flight in 1952 than today, and it’s no wonder
that airlines were so dedicated to making
their customers happy or, should we say,
less miserable. It’s no secret that the
job of air hostesses was exclusive to women
well into the modern times, and it takes little imagination
to picture the stress level of a job requiring
you to serve drunk, stressed out travelers
while donning mini skirts and pillbox hats. But there’s even more to
this occupational nightmare than what you think. Along with the desired
uniforms often involving skirts that increasingly grew
shorter as the ’60s progressed, the job of a flight
attendant was heavily dictated by the rules
of the airlines. Along with dress
codes, stewardesses were often given a limit on
how much they could weigh and how they were to behave. They were required to
be single and outgoing, while also maintaining a
personal moral standard decided by each airline. It wasn’t abnormal for
a flight attendants job interview to even require that
she hike up her skirt in order to prove her legs were nice
enough for the uniform. Airports didn’t always have the
complicated baggage handling system we take
for granted today, and so back before the invention
of the carousel, all luggage traveled to and from
the plane by hand. That meant each
passenger would need to visit a specific
counter after their flight, present a porter with a
ticket, and then sit and wait for each of their
bags to be retrieved. The only silver lining– there were no limits on how
many bags you could bring, as luggage fees wouldn’t be
invented until the 1990s. So there you have it. The golden age of luxurious
air travel was far from golden. So would you like to be an
airline passenger in the ’50s and ’60s? Let us know in the comments
below, and check out some of these other videos
of our weird history.


  1. It was wonderful now it's awful. It started going bad after deregulation. Crushing the unions and terrorism made it much worse. It's horrible now, wretched.

  2. Yeah right! Flying machines? How fanciful. This video is particularly clever because it pretends to look back on the “olden days”! Talk about weird history! “Modern air travel”? Wut??? 🤣

    It does make you wonder what the world be like if we could soar like eagles…

  3. It's funny how times have changed. I am 13, so I fly in sweats and a t-shirt, but I have never experienced a short line. My Grandfather, still gets his cigars confiscated, and still flies in a tuxedo and bowler hat. Not to mention, he always complains in a line that takes longer than 10 minutes to get through.

  4. Ok I know we are in the age of discrimination sensitivity, but I still think there needs to be some common sense concerning flight attendants weights. I’ve been on several flights where the flight attendant was so heavy she couldn’t wear the standard uniform and was barely able to walk down the aisle without bumping into every passenger sitting in the aisle.

  5. I'd still do it. In the eighties, I had an airline pilot tell me I should be a flight attendant. This is just after the weight restrictions and things were eased some. I still wish I'd done it.

  6. ahh the GOLDEN AGE OF TRUE CAPITALISM. Isn't it Amazing!!!! Too bad communist propaganda has destroyed our PERFECT ECONOMIC SYSTEM! (sorry folks but what we have today is NOT capitalism contrary to what the shills like to tell you as they grossly misuse the word)

  7. the flight attendant requirement for beauty – and service – is still in place for Asian airlines, tho mostly done away with for American airlines

  8. When I was flying from Frankfurt to Vancouver on a Lufthansa flight, they actually provided meals such as pasta and curry, as well as the usual pretzels and soda, granted it was a 10 hr flight, but it was still very nice and relaxing. They also had a smorgasbord of in-flight movies to choose from, so i guess it depends on the airline.

  9. also my grandma was a stewardess back in the day, she got awesome perks like the whole family, her, grandpa, mom, my aunt and the babies could all travel free as long as there were no shows to literally anywhere, one day they walked in and said "wanna go to paris for lunch?" and they did!
    but they also legit did weigh her and measure her heels and measure her waist and her bust and basically inspect the women, it was super archaic…

  10. Extremely artistic and beautiful video.. perfect music and great voice.. felt like a long real commercial from the 60s and i felt i were in that era !!

  11. Like a lot of "Golden Ages" in American history it only applied to "certain people" ask a non white person about "The Golden Age of Air Travel" they'll tell you a much different story.

  12. I am a former Flight Attendant and I can tell you flying from the 80’s into the 90’s and after 911, it’s HELL! for passengers as well as us the crew. In fact, I would not work in the sky today if you paid me six digits. When I flew in the beginning, in first class we had real hot towels , turned coats inside out before we hung them, ( Yes people respectively dressed up) , had flowers in a Crystal vase on every passengers meal tray. And we were not aloud to disembarking standing there leaning against a galley nor were we allowed to be fat , sloppy looking and basically unprofessional. Today it’s a joke in the US. Now over the pond, for example, KLM they are still holding the old way along with many other carriers. It today, if I have to fly, it don’t matter how far I have to go, I will not fly unless I can get First, only however for some sort of civility, humility and a drink before a push back, if they are not so lazy to offer it ….

  13. The Golden Age of Flying extended into the 1970s in southeast Asia. I remember my parents dressed for air travel. And the whole extended family would join to see them off at the airport. Food was luxurious too on flights.

  14. And to think what the money hungry bitches turned the world into fucking greedy selfish assholes…everyone should be able to fly like this still

  15. I'm old and remember those days well. If you yearn to return to them, don't. But it's true that the food was very good and the first class fare was superb…including the wines. I passed on brandy. Aircraft themselves are vastly safer and unbelievably quiet by comparison and that means a lot on even shorter flights. On the downside, people are obese now, dress like slobs and tend to be both careless and rude. We're more aware because passenger flight is now an egalitarian activity. Guess that's a good thing.

  16. My grandmother dropped out of college in the 60’s and started flying for United. She was going to school for electrical engineering, and I’m about 99% positive she does not regret it. She loved flying, and did it for 40 years. She’s been retired for almost 20 years now, and she still misses her job.

  17. The Lockheed Constellation Was Pressurized And A lot Less Turbulent than the Dc 7 if you are going to do a historical video then please do some historical research

  18. Even in the 90s when I first started flying, it was easy going through security and my parents often accompanied me to my gate. I miss those days. Nowadays it’s just fuckery and lack of common sense.

  19. Golden age for wealthy people is more appropriate. The golden age for the masses is right now. There are insanely cheap flights to some destinations these days.

  20. There are so many people on here who are anti smoking it's ridiculous people smoke for a eeason you can't stop it and you definitely can not shame them into stopping so just shut the fuck up you entitled ass hats

  21. So cool! I love the style back in the 50/60’s so elegant! I sure am glad though for our improvements in air crafts lol I’d be paranoid

  22. I remember when 9/11 ruined it for all of us when going through security. Back then they would call me the morning of the flight and confirm the meals I would have and not those shit meals they give today.

  23. To answer the final question, nah, I wouldn't want to have taken a trip back then but I would not object to my next canned plane meal contain some lobster 😛

  24. My mum is carer for one of the most famous British airways air hostess of of the golden era.
    Her stories are amazing and flying is also how she met her banker husband who she’s been with for decades since retiring.
    The women of today just aren’t like those back then.

  25. Well there wasn’t a bunch of flip flop wearing drunk losers on planes back in the day, there probably wasn’t even one time when they had to divert a plane to kick a drunk belligerent asshole off the plane at the expense of the other passengers time. They shouldn’t allow drinking on planes anymore. If you can’t behave yourself while flying,you should take a boat or drive to your destination 😎

  26. All those self entitled folks inconsiderately stinking up the plane with their nasty smoke. No thanks. Today we have our issues with low life’s on board and degraded accommodations and the like. Pick your poison I suppose.

  27. I prefer flying now. It’s cheaper, no cigarettes, flight attendants are not blatantly being sexualized, not just whites on the planes and planes are safer.

  28. ”The airports were more like bus stops” if someone tries to tell you that the world is better than 40-50 years ago just punch him in the head

  29. Airlines in the 1960's: "We're going to take a common sense approach and make sure our flight attendants don't look like walking trash heaps in order to improve customer satisfaction."

  30. What needs to be remember about flying back then is that the price kf one ticket then would toughly be the price of a first class ticket today. If you compare it that way the luxuriousness went up. Because rhe same people that flew back then would be flying business or first class today

  31. The solution to hijacking was to allow people to carry guns to balance the power. It was not to set up a police state and train generations of docile men.

  32. Hey, I don’t mind going through security. At least it’s much easier than it used to be. Walking through a CATSA checkpoint without shoes isn’t even the hardest part. The hardest part is having to throw away water bottles and other items not allowed on planes

  33. Never mind waiting for luggage or noisy planes, the legroom, luxury, scrumptious food, politeness and decency certainly make up for ANY of today's miserable airlines. Today, we have beer-reeking white trash in shorts and sandals, drunks, impossible legroom, inedible food, rude attendants, and thieving fees for everything. Quite ironic to see advancements in airliners when passengers are actually regressing to a primeval stage.

  34. My grandmother was a hostess for Continental back in the late 50’s and early 60’s. She quit when she married my grandfather in ‘68. They celebrated their 50th anniversary last year.

  35. The wealthy flew back in the "Golden Age" of airlines. And they do so today, except the wealthy own their own G-4 or charter one… They have all the perks with few of the downsides… And for the lucky few who flew the Lolita Express, there was onboard Pedophilia… (sarcasm intended)…

  36. My first flight be was in December 1959 on an Eastern Super C Constellation from Newark Airport to Miami.
    Boy, was it noisy!
    But I loved it.
    Now the only way to fly is alas in First Class.

  37. Most of the people here be choosing alternatives because flying nowadays is so uncomfortable BITCH I WOULD CHOOSE ALTERNATIVES EVERYDAY CUZ I'M F*CKIN TERRIFIED TO BE STUCK IN A BOX AT 30 000 FEET FOR HOURS GEEZ

  38. My first flight was in 1960 on a Lockheed Electra II. It was free. Lockheed wanted to convince passengers that the Electra II was safer than the Electra I which kept crashing. We took off from Washington National, looped and the landed. I got to visit the cockpit where I received a Junior American Airlines Pilot ring and a certificate that I was still alive.

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