My first Pan Am flight was in 1961 on a 707: - Sydney - Nadi - Honolulu - Los Angeles, and then on to Frobisher Bay (refuelling) - London. The return trip was London - Winnipeg (refuel) - Los Angeles and back the same way across the Pacific, all on 707s.
It was a great airline. In those days, many of the flights were around 60% loads on the Pacific run, with lots of room, good food and great service. I remember having my first Manhattan as a teenager - hand mixed cocktails even in economy.
Later I flew a 707 Sydney - Bangkok, with just eleven passengers - then on to London via Delhi, Tehran, Beirut, Istanbul, and Frankfurt. We were hijacked in Beirut which was interesting, to say the least. The return was via New York (on one of the first 747 flights), then back on a 707 and on to Fairbanks - Seattle - Honolulu - Nadi - Sydney - Melbourne. In those days you could have multiple stopovers for the same fare. The 747 LHR
was delayed for about 4 hours, and we were offered alternate flights, but decided to wait - there was no way I was going to miss the opportunity of flying the 747! I still (somewhere) have certificates from those flights - one for crossing the equator on my first international flight, and another for being one of the early 747 passengers.
I also flew them across the Pacific on a 747 from Sydney - Pago Pago - Honolulu - Los Angeles.
Service slipped as the aircraft got bigger. And the hand-mixed cocktails gave way to pre-mixed drinks in awful foil packs, and later miniature bottles. Pan Am used to place a large box of complimentary after-shave and perfume miniatures in the toilets. After one long flight, my pockets were clinking with "souvenired" small bottles of after-shave. I was just a kid
There was always a very intense rivalry between the flight crews, and FA
announcement would always specify where the crew was based. Sometimes they would even say something like "It has been a pleasure for your New York based crew to serve you today. If you are travelling further on this flight, a San Francisco based crew will be taking over", and you would always feel that they thought the new crew wouldn't be as good!
Flying Pan Am was always wonderful. I still remember getting on board a 707 called Jet Clipper Invincible or Jet Clipper Mohican and really feeling special. I would always check out the aircraft names, and it was good to sometimes have a flight on an aircraft you had flown before.
In the 707 days, interiors were in grey colors, and uniforms were Pan Am blue. With the 747s, interior fittings became a bit garish, and uniforms changed around.
I guess there won't be an airline again like the Pan Am of the 707 days, with its incredible network. But it was always something special to fly "the world's most experienced airline".