The Executive Flights originally operated with DC-6B's, between LGA
and CHI (MDW
), and LAX
. All departures were at 5:00pm daily except Saturday. The NY-CHI flights operated until late 1960 or early 1961, but were discontinued for a few months, until the introduction of the Caravelle VIR
on July 14, 1961, between IDL (JFK
) and ORD
. The flights were switched to EWR
a few months later. The LA
-SF Executives also departed at 5pm from each departure point with a schedule of about 1:40 each way. A special Dinner was served on all flights. I have an 11/1/55 schedule showing all four flights, and they were still operating, all with DC-6B all first class equipment as of the 7/5/1960 schedule, the one that introduced the B-720-022, however as the DC-8 was introduced along with the 720, jet flights were scheduled at the same time, and the MDW
flights were discontinued some time in the next year. The 7/1/61 schedule shows the Caravelle flight between ORD
and IDL starting 7/14/61 but no DC-6B flights being discontinued or operating between 7/1/61 and 7/13/61. The same schedule shows the LAX
flights still operating, but they were gone soon after, and never replaced, as the Caravelle only flew out to SFO
for maintenance, as it was never scheduled west of Omaha. The Caravelle was a perfect jet to replace the DC-6B as it was configured with 16 rows of 2-2 first class seats. The DC-6B's were all first class as well with two lounges. One forward behind the cockpit with 8 seats facing each other in a separate compartment, and the then five or six seat circular lounge in the back. (I don't remember if it was five or six seats, although I probably sat back there over 50 times, but never on one of the Executive flights.) United never configured any other jet aircraft in an all first class layout.
Remember in the 50's and 60's, the executive suite was not open to women. There was no glass ceiling, but women were only hired for clerical work. And not that many businessmen flew either. The all male Executive Flights were an outgrowth of the men's smoking cars on deluxe trains. The Executives competed with the 20th Century on the New York Central, and the Pennsy's Broadway Limited. The Century was faster with its all water level route and departed from LaSalle Street Station in Chicago at 430pm and from New York's Grand Central Station at 600pm, arriving at 845a and 900a, respectively. The scions of Wall and LaSalle Street could either fly in the evening or take the train and arrive in the morning. The 20th Century was an All Pullman First Class train that only stopped at Englewood outside of Chicago for transfers to Western Railroads.
I moved to New York in January of 1962. By that time, all the Caravelles were being operated out of EWR
, not IDL. Since a cab ride from EWR
to midtown was a fortune, (about $14.00 vs. $4.00 from IDL) we didn't fly to EWR
. My first Caravelle ride to EWR
was the next year, the Sunday before the JFK
assasination, but I was accompanied, and we took the bus to the West Side Terminal. I never flew the Executive, mostly because my dad, who was paying for the tickets for me to fly back to visit him in Illinois from NY, explained to me that the back of the airplane arrived at the same time the front did. The difference in the one way ORD
-NYC fare between Y and F, was $43.70 vs. $54.30, and the executive was $3.00 over first class. (By 1961, there was no extra fare on the California Executive DC-6B flights).
Now for a funny story, told to me by a UA
flight attendant in the late 60's. In the early 60's, UA
, with drinks, served a snack of Macadamia Nuts in small round foil containers. One afternoon, after leaving the gate, a weather hold was put in place at EWR
, so drinks and the macadamias were served. Back then there was no rule about tray tables and seat backs being in the upright and locked position, and there were no overhead storage bins, the racks were open, nor was there a rule about picking up glasses before takeoff. So after sitting on the ground for a while, the captain or 1st officer phoned back to tell the stews that they were ready to go. A rather new flight attendant then got on the intercom and made the following announcement to a plane full of males:
"Gentleman, the captain has informed me that the tower has cleared us for takeoff, so if you will make sure your seat belts are fastened, and hold your drinks in one hand, and YOUR NUTS in the other, we will be on our way to Chicago."