747400sp From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 3301 posts, RR: 2 Posted (5 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 2159 times:
When I was thinking about this topic, I was only going to ask about, how was it to fly on Laker ( Skytrain). Then I got to thinking about People Express and Tower Air. So now I am asking anybody who had flew on any of these airlines, how were they?
BCAL From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2004, 3384 posts, RR: 18 Reply 1, posted (5 years 8 months 2 weeks 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 2141 times:
Service on Laker's Skytrain was good and indeed often better than that I experienced on the legacy airlines at the time. At the airport there were no extra facilities (only one airline at LGW then had a dedicated lounge for their first class passengers) but at LGW Laker did have advantages; first, their check in desks were located on a separate floor beneath the main check-in area in South Terminal (North was then not open) and were less congested; secondly, Laker and another defunct carrier then owned the primary airport handling company, Gatwick Handling, so they had information and help desks all over the airport. At JFK and other US airports, all Laker ground handling was outsourced.
Seating on the Laker DC10s was (until the later days) all one class with 10 abreast seating. It was the normal charter configurations – maximum 31" seat pitch except in emergency exits rows and front rows. There were, however, three separate cabins, the front cabin being for passengers who did not want to watch any in-flight movie, which was projected on drop-down screens in the rear cabins (IFE was then in its infancy).
You paid for all drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, but the price included a complimentary bag of nibbles. You had to order your meals and pay for them when you brought your tickets. IIRC it cost GBP 5 for UK-US flights and USD 7.50 for US-UK flights and included a main meal (lunch on the outward journey, dinner on the return leg) that normally comprised starter, chicken or beef dish, dessert, cheese and crackers and small chocolate bar plus complimentary tea/coffee and water. A further snack (sandwiches and cake or continental breakfast) was served prior to landing.
The cabin crew were predominately female (only once saw a male cabin crew member). Their uniform was designed by a top fashion house (Yves St Laurent I believe) and when they were on the ground or in the airport, the female cabin crews wore a very smart "pork" hat. Laker went for younger, attractive female cabin crew members but they still conveyed a professional and courteous approach – not as snobby as BA and the main carriers, and nowhere near as amateurish or as loud as the VS cabin crews.
As I said previously, IFE was then in its early days but all Laker Trans Atlantic planes were equipped with OHP and large drop-down screen at the front of the two rear cabins. A full-length feature film, supplemented by a comedy show or two and cartoons, was always played on daylight flights and headphones were available for purchase at a relatively modest GBP 2.50 (although the cabin crew collected them before landing). However, it was at the crew's discretion when the movie started, or if it played at all. When the film was playing, cabin service was suspended but drinks and snacks were available for purchase from the galleys.
Compared to today's standards of service, I would put Laker well ahead of VS, and probably halfway between the standards of U2 and BA. It was professional but not snobby, friendly but not in-your-face. At first, all crews were LGW based but as they expanded, Laker also had US based crews.
MOL on SRB's latest attack at BA: "It's like a little Chihuahua barking at a dying Labrador. Nobody cares."
EWRandMDW From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 379 posts, RR: 0 Reply 2, posted (5 years 8 months 2 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 2102 times:
I flew PE quite a lot in early and mid-1980's. The experience was different from other airlines of the era in that you paid for everything from snacks to checked baggage. You could even pay for your ticket onboard. They flew 737-100/200 and 727-200s. The planes were generally fairly comfortable, certainly not the crippling sardine-can coach seating of typical economy today. PE was based at Newark Airport and flew frequent service to airports most other carriers shunned. For example, there were 5-6 daily 727/737 flights between EWR and BTV and a similar number between EWR and PWM, BUF, ORF, etc. In many respects, PE was 25 years ahead of its time because what other carriers such as AA and NW used to mock, they're now doing themselves and touting it as being fiscally responsible. I miss PE, but am comforted they became part of a 1st class airline, Continental.
747400sp From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 3301 posts, RR: 2 Reply 3, posted (5 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day ago) and read 2036 times:
Quoting EWRandMDW (Reply 2): I flew PE quite a lot in early and mid-1980's. The experience was different from other airlines of the era in that you paid for everything from snacks to checked baggage. You could even pay for your ticket onboard. They flew 737-100/200 and 727-200s. The planes were generally fairly comfortable, certainly not the crippling sardine-can coach seating of typical economy today. PE was based at Newark Airport and flew frequent service to airports most other carriers shunned. For example, there were 5-6 daily 727/737 flights between EWR and BTV and a similar number between EWR and PWM, BUF, ORF, etc. In many respects, PE was 25 years ahead of its time because what other carriers such as AA and NW used to mock, they're now doing themselves and touting it as being fiscally responsible. I miss PE, but am comforted they became part of a 1st class airline, Continental.
I know they also flew 747 into LAX. I used to realy like that giant drawing of the out line of people faces.
EWRandMDW From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 379 posts, RR: 0 Reply 4, posted (5 years 8 months 2 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 2021 times:
Quote: I know they also flew 747 into LAX. I used to realy like that giant drawing of the out line of people faces.
You're right. I forgot they had a small fleet of 747-100/200s. The 747s were used between EWR and LAX, SFO, DEN, and they opened NS trans-Atlantic service between EWR and LGW and BRU. No longer did someone living west of the Hudson River have to schlep to JFK for service to Europe. The CO TATL network out of EWR evolved from PE's.
LTBEWR From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 12335 posts, RR: 12 Reply 5, posted (5 years 8 months 1 week 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 1976 times:
I never took Tower Air, but there are many posts in this website about how horrible they were. If it wasn't for their JFK-TLV route on 747's, they would have had a very short life.
I never took Laker, but there is no doubt they were part of the LCC revolution, especially for international services and of airlines ran by travel agencies in the UK. Freddy Laker's 'Skytrain' service at their cheap prices was a revolution. What brought them down was the ability of major airlines on those rights to take a hit and sell a lot of seats cheap and undercut Laker.
PeopleExpress - I took several flights on them including EWR-PBI-EWR, DCA-EWR and EWR-BRU-EWR. Perhaps the closest comparison to PE is Ryanair today.
Looking at a late 1985-early 1986 schedule I have, you did have to pay for everything: $3.00 per checked bag charge, $0.50 for each can of soda, cup of coffee/tea, juice, $1.00 - 2.50 for beer, wine or hard drink, $3-5 for headphones/IFE. There was no hot food service, instead offering sandwich and cold chicken platters for something like $5.00 on 747 transcon/transatlantic services, and snacks/breakfast items for $ 0.50 - $3.00. You could pay for your flight with cash, check or credit card in-flight. You checked your bag after you went through security at the gate entrance. One quirk about that was there was a total prohibition on the transport of any firearms and animals. They apparently had a $5.00 UM fee.
Fares ranged from $39 for off-peak short domestic services, to $149-199 for transcon/transatlantic services. They also offered a 'premium' class seat for $450 on the LGW/BRU services and $325 for LAX/OAK services. They only had 2 fares tiers - 'off-peak' and 'peak'
EWR was PE's only hub. All service except for their international services at EWR was at the now long gone 'North' Terminal (now the site of parking lots and service buildings). International service for PE and other airlines then was at a part of Terminal C, which while built along with A&B in the 1970's, wasn't finished until after the collapse of PE. PE's plan was to make Terminal C their hub, but with their collapse into CO, it was finished and later revamped by CO, becoming a CO hub, and still many outbound international flights go via Terminal C. PE also led EWR becoming the important airport it has become.
In flight was about as comfortable as any major at the time, they were usually pretty good as to on-time. One problem was that they could severely overbook and it could be very difficult to book a flight on the phone. One could walk up for any flight and hope that they could get on a flight. That was very cool if one just wanted to take a flight that day on a whim, like to go see a friend in Buffalo. PE was very popular with casual travelers, especially college students. It did have a considerable affect on keeping fares down from the majors.
TPAnx From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 1021 posts, RR: 1 Reply 6, posted (5 years 8 months 1 week 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 1879 times:
Never had the "pleasure" of flying those carriers. But my father,,,a "frugal" person once flew down to PIE on People
Express. 747 landed,,,people got off..and all the luggage was dumped onto a long table under a roof out in the open air. Got a really dirty look from him when I asked when the chickens and goats would be off-loaded. (The airport has since
improved a great deal...and we owe those LCC pioneers a lot....)
BCAL From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2004, 3384 posts, RR: 18 Reply 7, posted (5 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 1853 times:
I was reminiscing about our flights on Laker's Skytrain with friends over a meal the other day. One said that all he clearly remembered was being told at LGW that check-in for the Laker flights was not allowed in the airport terminal but took place nearby, or at the small space that Laker had rented at London Victoria Rail Station. Apparently we spent some while looking where their check in area was, dragging our luggage all over the place. As I said in my post above I remembered being sent to a different floor from the main check-in area to check in, but it certainly was not in a different building, but the others all disagreed.
Can anyone elaborate whether or not during the early years if check-in for Skytrain flights from LGW was not allowed in the main airport terminal?
MOL on SRB's latest attack at BA: "It's like a little Chihuahua barking at a dying Labrador. Nobody cares."
NWOrientDC10 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 1389 posts, RR: 4 Reply 8, posted (5 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 1835 times:
Quoting LTBEWR (Reply 5): I never took Tower Air, but there are many posts in this website about how horrible they were.
I flew with Tower Air in January - 1993 on a military charter; Ft. Campbell, KY - LAS then return three weeks later. They were ok. We got a meal on both trips and hot towels on the return trip. To me the flights were "standard".