N202PA From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1551 posts, RR: 3 Reply 1, posted (13 years 1 week 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 1666 times:
My mom was a Pan Am employee for twenty years, so most of my flying experiences even to this day were on Pan Am, mostly in the 80s.
Service, as I recall it, was pretty much average in Economy (in the early 80s, Cabin Class). 2 hour flights like DCA-MIA were served a snack--in 1990, as I remember, the snack was a small bologna and ham bagel sandwich, granola bar, fruit and soda. Short hops on PA Express usually got something like a Tastycake coffee cake and drinks. Long flights had full meals that were okay, but nothing great. 80's Seating in Economy was 3-4-3 on 747s, 3-3 on 727s, 3-3 on 737s, 2-4-2 on A300s, and 2-4-2 on A310s. I don't recall what the seating on the L-1011s and DC-10s was, but it was the same as standard 80s seating on other airlines, I think.
Of course, this doesn't speak of the amazing flights in Clipper Class (business class). It was only available on 747s and A310s-- it was 2-3-2 (2-2 on the upper deck) on 747s and 2-2-2 on A310s. Service was excellent, though--you'd get a pre-departure drink, snack, then a paper card menu on which was listed the appetizers, wines, entrees, deserts and drinks. Usually, the main course was either fish or filet mignon. I always had the filet, and it was always excellent and tender. They served you with silverware and glass salt shakers. On particularly long flights, such as FCO-JFK, they would bring around a large snack later in the flight, often consisting of a sandwich or something similar, breadsticks, etc. and drinks. Seating width was ample and pitch was very nice, although this was for a ten year old kid, so I'm not sure if my assessment on that would be accurate for me or any other adult nowdays.
I never got a chance to travel First Class, as PA had a rule prohibiting employees' kids under 16 from travelling First at any time. Always looked forward to turning 16 and flying First, but I was a couple years short when the doors closed. Whenever we travelled, we had to dress up--shirt and tie and good pants/good shoes--again, company regulation for employees and their families when non-revving.
A lot of people talk about cancellations and bad service in the later days, but I honestly don't remember any of that. In addition, I don't remember one flight that we were supposed to be on getting cancelled, ever. We missed flights sometimes because there was no space available, but never a cancellation. Also, one of the benefits of being a kid of a PA employee in the later days is that there usually was space available, both in economy and Clipper.
Maybe someone can fill you in on the service in the 70s and the 60s. I seem to recall that someone posted a review of flights on PA from South America in the 60s, so if you search through the archives, you might find it.