Crewchief From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 7459 times:
Ah, the golden age of airliner travel in the US, an age when you could walk directly from the ticket counter to the gate, with no TSA to intervene. An age when a friend could board to "see you off", and deplane before departure. An age before jetways and doors on overhead bins, and deplaning was sometimes through the stairs in the rear of the aircraft.
Best of all, an age when US airlines used passenger service to differentiate themselves (they had to, they all had to charge the same so price differentiation wasn't an option). A passenger could call reservations and a friendly human answered the call. Lines were short. Food was served. Load factors were low, so on-board space frequently was more than adequate.
And every passenger was supposed to be treated well -- not like today, when airline policy is to treat some like kings and most others like something an airline executive stepped in. Employees were valued too -- the airline offered them careers instead of jobs. And passengers were more understanding of airline troubles, such as snow at ORD.
Air travel was much more civilized all around.
Those of us old enough to remember know how far we've fallen. And don't blame the fall on 9-11, the fall started long before.
Davescj From United States of America, joined Jun 2007, 2320 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 7447 times:
Quoting Crewchief (Reply 1): An age when a friend could board to "see you off", and deplane before departure
I can remember when I was young, family and friends coming on board with me. I remember they would ask "visitors" to deplane towards the end of boarding. I remember the first time when I was flying alone (I guess about 10?) and my Mom was no longer allowed on the plane before it left....I guess that was mid 80's.
I can remember people smoking on th plane -- but I don't remember the smell of smoke.
I can remember REAL meals in coach and always for kids, a visit to the cockpit.
Stapleton From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 289 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 7375 times:
Great Service, Expensive fares, flights were a lot emptier, on-time had less importance but easier to accomplish, often had to change airlines enroute (since none of the airlines had systems anywhere like they do now), more through flights, longer connection times, awesome food (my opinion the steak and lobster on Frontier between Denver and Dallas was the best), in general frienlier employees (because they often didn't have to work as hard as they do now for a more decent wage).
Some will say they were the good old days, but those good old days only applied to a select few. The majority of travelers were male and on business. Families were fewer and further between. If I could have the best of the past with the best of the present, I'd certainly take it but we have to be realistic, that won't happen. For me, I'd take lower fares over the higher service level because you do get what you pay for but if you can't afford the level of service, is it really better. I love to fly and I'll take 3 trips with mediocre service over 1 with excellent service any time but I love to travel and the more I can, the happier I am.
Nope, other than some airport police officers. And YES, there were BOMBS and people DIED. And considering the massive increase in flights between the 60s and 2000s, anyone who thinks the security isn't working is foolish. As security has increased, bombings originating in the USA have all but ended, despite all the holes and ineptness and exponential increase in flight volume. Because some security is still more secure than no security.
Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
EXAAUADL From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 7222 times:
My mom use to make me wear a suit, my sister a dress. WE almost always for a hot meal on most flightsover one hour...flights were rarely full....connecting was difficult as it meant having to switch airlines and in some cases terminals.
GRIVely From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 156 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 7205 times:
I enjoyed reading some of the other descriptions provided by other "old hands" so I thought I would add some thoughts from my perspective as a young aviation enthusiast in the 1950's.
The thing that most people forget is how very few persons had ever flown on an airplane in, say, 1955. I think the figure was less than 10% of Americans had ever been on an airplane, including those who had flown in the military. My father was an Air Force officer and when we changed station we always went by train, even all the way across the country. I got to ride on a lot of the famous American long distance trains but I assure you, looking out of the Vista observation car paled after the third day. America is BIG and four or five days from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco was a real drag. Even in a pullman sleeper.
But back to planes. The first time I was on a plane was when we flew across the Atlantic on a C-117, the military version of a DC-7. Wasn't too luxurious but it only took four hours from Dover to Gander (to fuel) and then 10 hours or so across the North Atlantic droning along at about 20,000 feet flying through the lightning before landing in Prestwick, Scotland. People smoking, people getting sick. Not exactly luxury on a Military Air Transport Service (MATS) plane. Oh, and four hours more to our final destination, Tripoli, Libya. Was quite an adventure for me but my mother and sisters thought it was horrible. But considering the same journey by troopship would have likely been around 15 days that was a real bargain.
By 1960 we had Super-Constellations and civilian DC-7's and the first 707's were around. I did get to fly several times on Viscounts and they were quite comfortable. You didn't have fold down trays. When the stewardess (no one said flight attendant then) brought you your lunch it was on a tray and she put a pillow on your lap to eat it from. There was no such thing as a smoking section and people all over the cabin would smoke, knock back a few mixed drinks or beers and find ways to entertain themselves. (No IFE) As a young lad I was always invited to go to the flight deck and hang out with the cockpit crew. I usually sat in the jumpseat between the pilots and chatted with the flight engineer.
Someone asked about cost. I am sure you can find some examples of ticket prices but that is not very meaningful unless you know how much money people made at the time. The reason you didn't fly very much was because it was so very expensive. My father took home about $600 a month in 1959 and a round-trip ticket from Raleigh, NC to Chicago was about $150. With a family of four that was a month's pay before you even booked a hotel or paid for the family to eat. Needless to say, we didn't fly on any vacations. It was 12 hours driving in our 1959 Edsel Ranger. In the back seat with my two sisters. (No IFE)
I never got to fly business class or first class until much later in my life. Of course, there wasn't any business class on airplanes until Pan Am invented it in the early 1970's. Since Pan Am's aircraft were called "Clippers" their special class was called Clipper class. Which, in case you wondered, is why many of us old hands still talk about "C" instead of "J."
Lostturttle From Bermuda, joined Dec 2006, 140 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 7177 times:
Deregulation did not stop smoking but do you remember the smoking and non smoking rows........................did it make a difference?
I still recall airfares being reasonable though, at least from Bermuda to the east coast That and the ticket was FULLY REFUNDABLE!
Lots of interesting articles on line, just google and read.
"In the 27 years before airline deregulation, no airline had gone bankrupt. Since 1978, 130 airlines have come and gone. In the past quarter-century, the rate of bankruptcy among air carriers has been as much as 10 times higher than among the general business community. In 2005, most major airlines are either in bankruptcy (United, US Air) or on the verge of bankruptcy (Delta, NWA)."
"So let's split the difference and say deregulation has resulted in a 10 percent ticket-price reduction. That's the benefit. What's the cost?
In 1978, when you bought a ticket, it was fully refundable. You could change flights without penalties. There were no requirements for Saturday stay-overs.
Cheaper fares, more hassles
Today most people who receive steep discounts spend more time on the road, either staying over extra days or traveling from more distant airports. People fly into Baltimore or Dulles airports rather than Washington National. They save money on the ticket, and spend another hour or so and $30 more for the cab.
Airline passengers have saved 10 percent, but hundreds of thousands of people have either lost their jobs or lost their job security or their pensions."
Ikramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 22159 posts, RR: 59
Reply 15, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 7087 times:
Quoting Lostturttle (Reply 14): Airline passengers have saved 10 percent, but hundreds of thousands of people have either lost their jobs or lost their job security or their pensions.
This is false.
Just because you find some articles that make claims doesn't mean it's so.
This is an article with a big government/union agenda.
There are MORE airline employees now than in 1978, so that means ZERO jobs have been lost net. Yes, some people have lost jobs due to GROWTH that was too fast AFTER deregulation, but that is not the same thing. Right after 1978, there was a flood of capital into the market and new entrants arrived while old airlines struggled. This happens a lot when an industry is deregulated. You can't look at the bad and ignore the good.
The USA domestic airline fleet has ballooned over the years, and every one of those planes has to be flown, cleaned, and maintained. That means aviation jobs have been created, but like any non-regulated industry, job security is not what it once was. Would things have grown as quickly without deregulation? No. Thus overall, there would be fewer airline jobs today.
Which is better: 100 people working all the time and being overpaid, or 200-350 people working at any one time and getting market wages? Not sure the answer other than if you ask the 100-250 people without any job under scenario 1, they'd tell you the second one is better...
And airfares are far more than 10% less expensive. There are plenty of sources for this. Even other articles that are negative toward deregulation estimate 1/3rd decrease or more.
Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
Prior to the rash of domestic hijackings in the late 60s early 70s, which led to metal detectors and airport security as we've come to know it; previously you just had airport cops. And as it was mentioned earlier, you did have stuff happen. Metal detectors didn't become mandatory until barely more than 30 years ago.
Quoting Detroitflyer (Reply 9): everyone keeps saying it was really expensive.....does any one have any examples of how expensive it was compared to today?? Cuz that would be really interesing....for me anywayz
A $100 fare in 1977 is more expensive than the same $100 is in 2007. $100 used to be a large chunk of ones' pay; these days, it isn't. The average salary during the 1970s was about $7500; today, the average salary is around $46,000.
Flightopsguy From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 348 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 7036 times:
I recall that prior to dereg approximately 20% of American adults had been on a commercial flight, now it's somwhere near 90%. My first fare on National Airlines from DCA-MCO was $66.50 RT, which was the student 1/2 fare, or half of the regular coach fare. This was in 1968. I still have the ticket. So fares were MUCH higher prior to dereg. Airlines were guaranteed something like a solid 15% on their investment. New routes and fares were subject to approval by the CAB (Civil Aeronautics Board). Some route requests dragged on for years, with public hearings to guage if the new carrier on the route was in the public's best interest.
A transcon round trip in 1952 was more expensive than today, without the inflation factor. A typical DC-8 Mainliner in 1962 had about 40 First Class seats, and about 60 "Club" Coach seats. Children were often given souvenirs of the flight which might include a model of the airplane, or a picture postcard set of the destination. Playing cards, newspapers, writing paper, etc. were always available. I have seen union contracts from the early '60's where flight dispatchers were paid the equilvalent of first officer pay...which was much higher (on a comparative basis) than today. You could do a lot with a $50K salary in 1970.
Mariner From New Zealand, joined Nov 2001, 27611 posts, RR: 81
Reply 18, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 7028 times:
The first time I flew domestic in the US was about 1976, American Airlines Frst Class JFK-LAX - and it was as good as any airline service in the world.
As a foreigner, a first time visitor, everything in the US was exotic to me - and sometimes fairly baffling - and I was amazed that the service was both classy and casual at the same time, on the ground and in the air.
Two of the seats in one row of the center could swivel around to face the two behind and a round table was set on a central post, so that four people could dine at the table. They seemed to be strangers, I don't think they knew each other, but all four were laughing and joking like old chums.
Everything was open and user friendly - from the casual cheeriness of the staff to the good menu with the big salad bowl tossed in front of us. The seats were as comfortable as any I had experienced.
I guess by modern standards some of it was "primitive" - there were no individuals PTV's, just the big screens with projected movies and there were no sleeper seats in the modern sense.
I have flown with all the "best" airlines in the world - the latest being Emirates First Class across the Tasman - and I have had some very fine experiences.
Viscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 29299 posts, RR: 25
Reply 21, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 6917 times:
A few of my memories of the early days (i.e. 1970s and earlier), some already mentioned by others:
Much better inflight service especially in Y class, with full meals common even on many 1-hour flights.
Smoking was permitted onboard. Until sometime in the early 1970s or thereabouts, many flights didn't even have separate smoking and non-smoking sections. Many airlines even handed out free cigarettes in small packages.
Fewer people flew so frequency of service on most routes was much less than today. Small cities in particular may only have had 2 or 3 flights a day, but often with larger aircraft like 727s or 737s, compared to today's more frequent service but usually with small commuter aircraft.
Fares were heavily regulated by governments and seldom changed more than once or twice a year, and all airlines operating on the same route usually charged identical fares.
The difference between first and economy class fares was a much smaller percentage than today, often only 20 or 25%.
Average load factors were much lower than today. It was rare to board a flight that was 100% full, and more often than not you would have an empty seat next to you. Today's sophisticated revenue management systems didn't exist with multiple booking codes, and the regulatory system didn't permit last minute fare reductions to fill empty seats anyway.
Code-sharing didn't exist.
Even US domestic routes were heavily regulated until deregulation in 1979. Airlines just couldn't decide to introduce a new route and start operating it almost immediately as they can today. In the US (and procedures were similar in most other countries), they had to formally apply for new routes and the CAB (Civil Aeronautics Board) would usually take a year or more before they ruled on the application. Formal hearings were often held with other airlines opposing the new competition, local civic authorities supporting it etc. Until deregulation, UA for example couldn't operate from their major ORD hub to points in Florida. However they did have rights from CLE to Florida inherited from their merger with Capital Airlines in the early 1960s. So if you wanted to use UA ORD-MIA you could if you didn't mind connecting in CLE.
In the USA prior to deregulation, airlines that only operated within the same state (e.g. PSA in California, Air California, Southwest in Texas when they first started) weren't regulated by the CAB, only by the state authorities, so they often had more freedom to change fares or offer big discounts than the major carriers on longer routes that crossed state boundaries which were regulated by the federal government.
Advance seat selection at the time of booking wasn't possible. You could sometimes select your seat from a chart when you checked in. They peeled off a numbered sticker from the seat chart behind the check-in counter and stuck it on your boarding pass. If the flight made intermediate stops (multi-stop flights were much more common than today), passengers boarding at the intermediate points often had no possibility to select seats and just had to take what was available when they boarded.
No security checks until sometime in the 1970s. You rarely had to check in more than 30 minutes before departure even at busy airports.
People dressed more formally when they flew; even on flights to Hawaii you didn't see passengers in shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops.
There were very few taxes or all the other fees that are collected in addition to the actual fare now. Many airports (outside North America) had their own departure taxes but they were collected separately when you checked in.
No overhead bins on aircraft, just open racks for light items like coats. Other carry-on items had to fit under the seat. Passengers brought much less stuff on board then which speeded up boarding/deplaning.
Y class seats were more comfortable than today, usually with at least 34 inch pitch (that was the Y class standard on international flights for many years). First class (no sleeper seats or flat beds then) was usually 40 to 42 inches, much less than longhaul business class today.
Air travel overall was much less of a hassle than today, if you could afford it.
Oznznut From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 153 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 6864 times:
I'll add my little rememberances. One thing not mentioned, except in passing, was the fact that all airlines charged the same fare for a given route. Fares were set by the CAB. One call to TWA, Eastern, whoever, and you knew the total fare. I remember spending hours reading timetables. TWA and Pan Am were my favorites. They were in a vertical format listing arrival and departing times at each stop en-route. And hard to believe in these days, I would plan trips by which routing would provide the most meals!!
474218 From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 6340 posts, RR: 9
Reply 23, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 6796 times:
Quoting Lostturttle (Reply 14): In 1978, when you bought a ticket, it was fully refundable. You could change flights without penalties. There were no requirements for Saturday stay-overs.
Not only were tickets fully refundable but since all airlines charged the same price, for the same class service, over the same route, you could take your TWA ticket to United or AA or Delta and if they flew the same route they would honor it.
SkyyMaster From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 6754 times:
Some has already been said...
Lots of widebodies on short routes - especially LGA-ORD....hourly services between the two by AA, TW, and UA...
I have an AA timetable form the early 70's with seat diagram - 70+ seats in first class! Piano bar upstairs.
Lots of red-eyes between destinations that didn't seem to make sense. DL and EA both had major banks of flights leaving around midnight or later out of ATL. Is was not uncommon to see a 03:00 flight between BNA-MEM; or CLT-CHS, etc...
Odd routes that you would never see today - UA doing LAX-BHM and HSV, 2x daily nonstop to each...or the UA run up the middle of California - 737's to Bakersfield, Visalia, Modesto, Stockton...NW flew a DC10 from Billings to ORD nonstop...TW n/s Amarillo-LAX...DL 747's to JAX...10 flights a day between Norfolk and Newport News, 8 by National alone....you could fly SO from STL to LGA in 8-9 stops, or DFW-BIL in 12 on FL (same planes)...yet on other routes, no non-stop service at all...ORD was filled not only with AA and UA aircraft, but TWA, Ozark, Northwest Orient, and North Central as well...
Flying was an "event", people actually dressed up to fly...my first flight at age 13 in 1970, I had to wear a suit and tie.
In some ways, I miss those days...
: Lets see... 1 - No frequent flyer programs. 2 - No lie flat biz class seats, no first class pods/suites. 3 - Smoke infested cabins - seats and trim wi
: Travel prior to '78 was much better but in reality it really took a nosedive after '86. In '87/'88 there were massive mergers, many lost jobs and the
: No TCAS. That's the only change I really care about, since we are still using the same ATC system from the so-called, "golden age" (Controllers are as
: To add to the responses above: 1) Ticket-by-mail: Many airlines offered a service where you could call to reserve a seat, then they'd snail mail an i
: " target=_blank>http://www.airchive.com/SITE%20PAGES....html Thanks for the link, brought back a lot of memories (RIP Eastern Air Lines)
: The two things I miss most about flying before deregulation: When you called an airline you talked to a real person who spoke the same language as you
: What was standby like back in those days? Even though airline tickets were pricier as a general rule, didn't the ability of individuals to wait at the
: Reason that is, is the CAB would force mergers. Capital was going bankrupt in 1961, but the CAB encouraged UA to buy it out. In 1972, NE was all but
: Several people have said that air travel was prohibitively expensive for most people. Actually travel by any means was almost a luxury until the last
: Except for this I agree with all your points.
: Amen! Most vacations we took in the 50's and 60's were to the beach, about 4 hours away by car (no interstates) and sharing an apartment with relativ
: Flying somwhere for the weekend was something only done by the rich. If you went somewhere on holiday, you more than likely got there by car, even if
: This was early 90's on swiss air. I was about 9 years old. Buenos Aires - Campinas - Rio de Janeiro - Geneva - Zurich. I boarded in Campinas (Viracopo
: Before deregulation the airlines were assigned routes by the government, they flew those routes whether they were making money or not. Government con
: There was no price break for flying standby. Fares were set by the CAB (or by each state's PUC for intrastate carriers), and that was it, confirmed o
: I've spoken to some senior F/A's that worked back during this time and from what i hear, I don't think I would want to be a F/A back then. Times have
: This was certainly true. I can remember Frontier (the old one, not the new LCC) flew from DEN - LAW (Lawton,OK) on 727s a couple times a day. Fast for
: One of the oddest Pre-Deregualtion routes was : ELP-MAF-SPS-LAW-OKC-TUL on a CO 727-200. reads like a bus schedule. I would bet loads never reached mo
: This is really a great thread and I thank the OP for posting it. I'm too young to know what it was like back in the day. This will always be one of lf