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1st Class In The Olden Days...

Sun Apr 07, 2002 3:27 am

Does anyone remember what it was like to travel when 1st class was a truly uplifting experience?

I am referring to the days when 747s were in their prime and travel was truly an event, whether trans-continental or trans-atlantic.

I want to catch a glimpse of the old grandeur of really flying in first class on a jumbo jet.

Thanks for giving me a brief idea of the joy...

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RE: 1st Class In The Olden Days...

Sun Apr 07, 2002 3:45 am

International First (and in many cases, Business Class) today is leaps and bounds ahead of what First Class used to be in the early years of the Boeing 747. You got a standard wide seat, lots of food, caviar, champagne, free drinks (this carried a lot of cachet back then when IATA regulations were carried out to a T, and airlines did not serve free alcohol to their economy class passengers), and fawning airhostesses (which are still to be found in First today, albeit without the sexy undercurrents the marketing staff of airlines foisted on the whole FA-passenger relationship back then). Food in First class was heavy on mayonnaise, creamy French sauces, and frankly, by today's more eclectic standards, quite awful. However, caviar was plentiful. How do I know? Well, my Dad worked for Exxon back then and we flew First a lot - unfortunately I was a kid then, and now as an adult I have to fly on the back of the bus with everyone else. I could exercise some privileges on TWA First into my teenage years since my Mom was an ex TWA FA.

We associate the late 60s and early 70s with a sense of glamor, but thats because the pictures that survive show beautiful people sitting in the upstairs lounge sipping martinis wearing "mod" clothes. In actuality, I think that First Class today is a much superior product. However, even adjusted for inflation, it costs so much more than it did back then. Those flat bed seats, PTVs, laptop connections, etc, come with a big price !
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RE: 1st Class In The Olden Days...

Sun Apr 07, 2002 9:27 am

Yea, I have to agree with Jaysit. Besides, back then, if you weren't wearing a suit, you were out of place. Now you can dress comfortably. It's hard to beat international first class.
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RE: 1st Class In The Olden Days...

Sun Apr 07, 2002 9:28 am

Now now, let's not forget the bar!
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RE: 1st Class In The Olden Days...

Sun Apr 07, 2002 10:00 am

In the late 70s, I flew Pan Am's 747 on numerous routes: SFO-LHR-SFO, LAX-LHR, and once JFK-NRT on the SP. Yes, free-flowing caviar and Dom Perignon champagne. The upper deck was a lounge area for first class passengers. During dinner, the tables and seats were configured so that passengers could sit across 2-2 with name plates. Roast beef was carved tableside. For desert - sliced chocolate cake. Seats were wide and comfortable with footrests. Complimentary access for first class passengers to the Pan Am Clipper Club. No frequent flyer upgrades, so the only persons in first were paying passengers, non-revs who paid a fee, and VIPs.

No ptvs, no fully flat sleeper seats, no airphones, no laptop power outlets, but a truly luxurious experience, nevertheless.
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RE: 1st Class In The Olden Days...

Sun Apr 07, 2002 10:00 am

When i was younger i used to fly AA DC-10's JFK-LAX-HNL and return and HNL-SFO-JFK. It was nice, you got the free OJ and pretty decent meals. The seats were very big but no footrests and recile was pretty limited. I prefer what Northwest and KLM and American's International Buisness Class have now to what i had then.
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RE: 1st Class In The Olden Days...

Sun Apr 07, 2002 12:35 pm

I think THE ultimate definition of First Class travel in the older days of aviation was flying on the Graf Zeppelin and Hindenberg airships in the 1930's. Piano bars, sumptuous meals, comfy rooms, etc.--now that was First Class air travel!  Smile

I think the introduction of the truly modern First Class seats in the late 1980's, top-notch food, and the introduction of Private TV's and laptop ports in the 1990's has made today's First Class way better than the First Class of the 1960's and 1970's.
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RE: 1st Class In The Olden Days...

Sun Apr 07, 2002 2:16 pm

Years ago as a boy (those were the days), always flew first on AA or UA JFK-LAX/SFO-HNL and on BA JFK-LHR-wherever. True, the seats weren't as good as they are today, but there was no filth sitting upfront either- people behaved appropriately. The upstairs lounge was a great place to hang out too... especially while snacking on caviar!

If you live in the USA, have you seen the BurgerKing TV ad, "first time in first class, sir?"

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