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Travelling In The Sixties

Sat Jun 16, 2001 7:20 pm

Have you been on a airplane in the sixties? The time when fly wasn't for everybody, when the airlines cared about their passenger. I don't say that they do it not today, but I think it was very different in that time.
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RE: Travelling In The Sixties

Mon Jun 18, 2001 12:06 am

I presume you mean the 1960's  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
It is a new century now you know.
Well let's see - long ago in those far distant times when I was just a mere teenager, commercially I flew in DC-3s, DC-4s, Fokker F27s and Viscount V770Ds throughout the remote wilds of Western Australia.
What was it like?
Pretty much like today - exciting and exhilarating, but it was a formal adventure - people mostly wore their best clothes.
Service was pretty basic in some respects, but the Viscount was best because there were two FAs (called Air Hostesses then) and there was a food trolley! Wow!
Unfortunately, my belief in fearless teenage immortally ended when "my" Viscount, VH-RMQ, tragically disintegrated on approach to Port Hedland late December 1968 just 10 days after I flew on her  Sad
I can still hear the news on the car radio and still get the same feeling in my stomach after all those years.
So now I fully appreciate the professionalism of the team of people that put aircraft into the air and keep them flying.
Of course on international flights we have now PTVs, etc, and the pounding throb of big radials has long gone - but, for me at least, the adventure of flying remains, regardless of how new technology may try and isolate us from that great achievement at Kittyhawk, North Carolina, 97.5 years ago.

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RE: Travelling In The Sixties

Mon Jun 18, 2001 7:07 am

I started flying as a passenger in 1966, and I did quite a lot of flying during the rest of the sixties. I remember on Eastern, there was a fare difference if you flew jet or prop. Jet first class and coach were designated F/Y, and prop first class and coach were A/T. I remember booking a trip from RIC to TPA via ATL, and I asked the Eastern agent what kind of planes I would have. She said Super Electra from Richmond to Atlanta, and Whisperjet from Atlanta to Tampa. My Electra flight made an enroute stop in Charlotte on the way. Seat pitch was better then, and I got a hot lunch on an Eastern Electra flight from RIC to LGA. Piston engined aircraft were still being flown then, although they were on their way out. I remember flying on Eastern Convair 440s, Piedmont Martin 404s, and a Turkish Airlines DC-7B, which was ex-Eastern. I loved the throb of those radial engines. The Martin 404 was the loudest, while the DC-7 seemed very muffled and quiet. Flights were very seldom full in those days. I flew on an Air France 707 from ORY to JFK, and I had three seats all to myself. I loved flying on Lufthansa and BEA Viscounts, and BEA Vanguards. KLM Electras were very nice also. I flew on them right up until they were retired. I was flying KLM from LHR-AMS-FRA one afternoon. The timetable listed the equipment as DC-9/Electra. I asked the agent which it would be, and he said most likely a DC-9. He said, "We've sold all our Electras." Imagine my delight to discover both segments would be operated by Electras that day. Flying is still fun, but not as much fun as it was in those days.

Bob Bradley
Richmond, VA
Fly Eastern's Golden Falcon DC-7B
EDR 374
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Travelling In The 1960's

Tue Jun 19, 2001 5:18 am

As you said, "flying is still fun, but not as much fun as it was in those days." I also think that it was much better in those days, although i've never flown in the sixties. When I'm looking at old pictures from the 60's, even the 50's, and I see the "Air Hostesses" as they cared about their passengers, I would like very much to be there. Or the beautiful airplanes which flew in this time.

Thanks for your very nice replys.
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RE: Travelling In The 1960's

Tue Jun 19, 2001 11:08 am

My father flew a lot in the late 50s and 60s as an executive for US Steel. He has lots of stories about eventful flights, whether because the service was particularly good (planes returning to the gate to get him, white linen service, lots of room, etc.), or because of mechanical problems - multiple engine failure (on 4-engine props), hydraulic failures, followed by fast, terrifying descents to low altitudes, etc. One thing he does not have stories of is bad service. So, I conclude that flying now is much safer than it was in the 60s -- just check the FAA records to confirm that -- but, as others have said, not as much fun.
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RE: Travelling In The Sixties

Wed Jun 20, 2001 5:55 am

According to my parents and pictures, the experience of flying in the sixties was a lot better then. Men wore suits(even for leisure flights) and women wore dresses. The FA's were dressed up(compared to nowadays) and were wearing the most stylish designer clothes. You didn't have the rude employee, the crew cared about every passenger individually.
Give me a break, I created this username when I was a kid...
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RE: Travelling In The Sixties

Wed Jun 20, 2001 8:55 am

Ahhh...the glamorous sixties (I was actually born in 1972, but I've relived them through pics and stories in the biz). There were A LOT less passengers, A LOT less planes, A LOT more employees, and of course, A LOT higher fares. Blink182...you're right....times...they have a changed....the average airline employee for the most part these days thinks that the passenger is stupid and ignorant....but let's look why...

Obviously, the people who post on here are not the people, that we, the down trodden airline employee folk, are referring to when we are discussing our astonishment at the sheer level of ignorance amassed by the traveling public, especially these days, when there is SO much discussion CONSTANTLY in the media about the airline industry.

I'm not excusing the behavior of many of my colleagues, although, I have certainly felt that way myself (having worked in both inflight and cust service for over 10 years).

Quite honestly, and I'm certain those of you who are seasoned travelers have witnessed this, yourself: Does it not sometimes appear that the sliding doors at the front of airport terminals have the uncanny ability to SUCK the common sense right out of people, while simultaneously lowering their I.Q. by 40-60 points.

How is it that an agent can announce FINAL BOARDING 3 times (as happened to me today in Chicago), and then have a family of four who have been sitting next to the gate podium for the last hour, nonchalantly walk up and ask to board the aircraft, and then become irate when told the flight is closed. Do you know how many times I've heard passengers in airport yell or scream "I AM GETTING ON THAT PLANE AND NONE OF YOU ARE GONNA STOP ME!!....CALL IT BACK!!" And one simply need to look out the window to see the aircraft and the 130 something people who managed to find the gate in plenty of time for departure are happily on there way. After a while, the sheer repetetiveness of these actions on behalf othe passenger masses become quite simple for the airline employee to turn a deaf ear to.

OR...when a passenger is looking right at you as you announce the arrival of "flight 984 from New York at gate C54", and then, while still looking at you, walk up and ask.."what gate is flight 984 from New York arriving at?" And of course when the agents are asked 45 times in the same half hour what time flight 984 is arriving...although five arrival announcements have been made, and the
monitors are all updated and correct....your confidence in the traveling public's intelligence does indeed begin to slip. (All non-airline folks present in this forum excluded, of course.)

My favorite, of course, are those people who simply do NOT UNDERSTAND WHY, the Continental or American personnel cannot tell them what time United 227 from San Francisco will be arriving...and walk away shaking their head in disgust. Better yet are those standing in line for 45 minutes at the
American counter in Kansas City for the flight to Phoenix. When they are patiently explained to that they are traveling on America West, not American ("No Ma'am, I'm sorry they're not all the same" and will have to go the America West counter....the passenger angrily announces that is ridiculous that
they should have to stand in another line.

Imagine what happens in Minneapolis where the American, America West, American Trans Air, and AirTran Airways counters are all right next to one another. Sheer joy, everyday.

I reiterate...rude behavior is never acceptable, HOWEVER, there is a basis on the passengers' behalf that has bred this behavior. I attempt everyday in the trenches to conduct myself in CCCP...(no not the former Soviet Union)...but in a Calm, Confident, Competent, and Professional manner. I love the industry...and I love being in it...although sometimes I wish was a flight attendant for a cargo airline. J/K - some of the passengers just can't help themselves...those damn doors got 'em again.

My two cents....have a great day.


Current employee of TransContinentalAmericanSouthwestUnited Airways. Or whichever one....they're all the same aren't they?

(P.S.....Planes like this, as groovy as they are, don't help:

Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Ben Wang

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RE: Travelling In The Sixties

Wed Jun 20, 2001 4:33 pm

Travis, I call it TII, "Technology Induced Ignorance", and unfortunately it's everywhere.
My daughter works at a call centre handling charging inquiries for a telco here in Australia and besides being asked to provide the call charges for other companies (duh - like asking BA for DL's transatlantic fare), she is also asked such questions as "Is it a local call to dial up my ISP?".
Which is fine, but often they don't know the dialup number nor how to find it on their PC, or if they do know it the next question is how do they configure their PC for a webcam or something!!! Like she should know!!! (She actually does how a fair idea - but it's not her job to have to know this.)
Flying is the same - in the past it was glamorous, expensive and adventurous, now most (not Airliner.netters of course  Smile/happy/getting dizzy ) expect to enter a long metal (or composites if A380) tube at one place and leave at another with no thought about how it all happens.
And when it doesn't all fall into place just for them all hell breaks loose!
I'm not advocating that flying should have the same risk factors associated with sailing to the Indies aboard a square rigger in 1600, but a little more respect for both the technology and the people who's job it is to try and make it work would be nice.

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RE: Travelling In The Sixties

Thu Jun 21, 2001 1:42 am

I'm 35 yrs old, and have done my fair share of travelling in the early 70s since my dad was posted overseas in many different countries. Yes, there were fewer passengers, more legroom in coach, but the 707s and DC-8s had poorer safety records than their wide-bodied replacements, and flights were often milk run multi-stop affairs. Furthermore, I remember the cabins being choked up with cigarette smoke. As far as FAs being caring, doting fashion models, thats a gross exaggeration. FAs varied between carriers as they do today and often couldn't care less about their passengers in coach. Plus, quite often the food was horrible - bad Anglo-saxon food (i.e. mystery meat) or appetizers drenched in mayonnaise was the norm and any ethnic choices were unheard of unless you flew Alitalia or Air India. Frankly, I think I had the best flying experiences in the early-80s on the 747s without some of the PTVs and techno-geegaws, but with significantly more legroom than you see today.
Atheism is Myth Understood.
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RE: Travelling In The Sixties

Sat Jun 23, 2001 11:55 am

Flying on commercial aircraft here in the U.S. in the 1960's was certainly more interesting than it is today.
Reasons Being, the decor was much more colorful and lively, the onboard food service was, for the most part very good and attractive. and the flight attendants were extremely hospitable. Most of the attendants during that period were women....very lovely and charming women at that.
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RE: Travelling In The Sixties

Sun Jun 24, 2001 5:18 am

I began flying as the 1960s began in 1961 on an AA Electra. 707s, DC-8s, Comet 4, Viscounts, Vanguard, 440s, 580s, 404s all bring fond memories. Travel in those days was less stressful. People were not always in the rush as we see today. It was a totally different culture and not only just for flying. I had the privilege to travel to several continents with many airlines. In the US I remember a hot meal served on a pillow on an Eastern 440 by a male Attendent (Eddie Rickenbocker wasn't for women). I think with things a bit more relaxed back then the service at least seemed better because expectations weren't necessarily high. United's service on the Viscounts that I flew would probabaly be classified as first class today.

RE: Travelling In The Sixties

Wed Jun 27, 2001 3:27 pm

no overhead bins, hatracks were the norm along with bright and colorful interior decor. Some airlines were late to jump on the "wide-body" look of the 70's and present, this pic is of a Western Airlines 737-200 taken in the mid 70's at LAS.

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RE: Travelling In The Sixties

Fri Jun 29, 2001 9:54 pm

I first flew (and got hooked) in July, 1968. My family went from Pittsburgh-Miami (vacation) on a United 727-100. United had a thing called "Sunbird Service" which included Orange Juice being served in the boarding lounge and a Steak & Scrambled Egg breakfast being served during the flight. Try getting that today in coach! We flew back 10 days later on Eastern (also a 727-100). My parents decided to stay 3 more days and had to switch our reservations to Eastern to get a available flight. That was no problem in those days - and no extra charge.
EDR 374
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RE: Travelling In The Sixties

Mon Jul 09, 2001 1:06 am

Thanks for these very nice stories. Very nice to read.
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RE: Travelling In The Sixties

Tue Jul 10, 2001 2:46 pm

I missed travelling by air in the Sixties by less than a year. Since I see some "fudging" in RE: to this topic, I'll go for it.

My first airline flight was MSP-PHL (non-stop at the time) in August, 1970, on a UA flight opb a 727-100 in the livery pictured.

Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Bill ARMSTRONG

The passengers were mostly business types, dressed in suits and ties. Though I was a college student on summer break at the time, I too donned the same type of attire, since I was aware of the unofficial dress code for air travel and wanted to be sure fit in.

The flight was full or very nearly so as NW, the other carrier authorized for MSP-PHL service was on strike. Since the departure was late afternoon, dinner was served. The menu was typical for coach at the time: a meat entree with potato, vegetable, salad, dinner roll, dessert, and beverage service.

On a recent DTW-FRA flight the dinner served in coach was very similar to what I remember of meals on U.S. domestic flights in the '70s. It has been at least 20 years since I've seen dinners in U.S. domestic coach service that are comparable to the meal on my first flight and several subsequent trips in the '70s on NW, BN, EA, and UA again.

Seat pitch was somewhat more generous than today. Overhead bins were non-existent and, in any event, weren't necessary as carry-on "luggage" was mostly briefcases and purses; boarding and deplaning were far from the unwieldy process it is today. There were overhead open hat-racks, mainly used for coats and perhaps other small items.

Check-in was, like today, at the lobby counter if there was luggage to check and/or ticket to purchase; otherwise one could proceed directly to the gate. Security did not come into being until sometime after my first flights. Seat selection was on a first-come, first served basis at the gate. A schematic of the aircraft seating arrangement with numbered stickers corresponding with each seat was displayed behind the gate agent - each pax selected from what was still available and the sticker was removed from the chart and affixed to your ticket jacket. Boarding was not in any particular order or sequence except that first class was invited to board before coach.

Flying in the early-mid '70s was a more civil, relaxing experience than it has become today. And, even though fares were regulated, flying was affordable to persons of average means and yet costly enough to keep passengers from taking it for granted. Or so it seemed.

Some of my more interesting flights in the '70s were itineraries having interline connections, which were quite common prior to de-regulation. The four I can recall were:


If only I had been keeping a log of my flights from day one...

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