I was surfing the internet the other day and came across this image. It shows part of an economy class cabin and immediately I was like oh, oh my God is this economy class? Please someone take me back to the 50s. I later learnt that the image wasn’t an actual cabin but a mock up made by Boeing to show people how flying in a 747 will be like, that feeling I had gotten faded but it had done enough to get me interested into the subject of wanting to know how flying was like in the 1950s. The image had invoked memories of some scenes I had seen in airports while travelling. I remember seeing tired faces, people just lying on benches, you would think they had been on a night shift in a mine. The stories of people losing their luggage, the long queues in some airports, flight delays etc kind of paints a gloomy image about flying today, one that takes away the glamour and magic of air travel that we are usually accustomed to making it an ordeal. So what was the kind of flying experience people got back then? In my quest to find out more I came across some things that fascinated me.
- Even if your legs were 2 metres long they could be accommodated. Planes back then had quite a chunk of LEG ROOM .
- You never had to mind the person sitting behind you when reclining your seat, there was just plenty of room. The cabins were SPACIOUS, with some having only 18 passengers.
- There were overhead sleeping berths!
- It seems everyone had a book to read.
There were other fantastic things like the food, beer, and smoking was allowed “almost” anywhere in the cabin, this was a nice thing for smokers of course but not for non-smokers.
It really looks magical but it came at a cost. Flying in those days was usually for business purposes, it was something not so affordable. Airlines then opted for providing a more luxurious experience to their customers. As they shifted to “fair” prices making flying affordable, luxurious air travel came with a heftier a price tag. With the kind of luxury then there were no khaki cargo shorts and some flip-flops, you really had to dress nicely for a flight, men wore theirs suits women some nicely costumes. The air hostesses wore provocative uniforms and promised to offer an experience a traveller would never forget. Some airlines would provide their passengers with postcards so they could write those on the ground what an experience flying was. It was quite an adventure.
Was this really the golden age of flight? Yes it was but the ticket prices weren’t so golden. As well as the lack of options, if you missed a flight it would be difficult to quickly get on the next flight. Today on a single route and destination you find tons of flights. It was a golden age indeed however, there are some trade offs whenever progress is involved, it isn’t much of an ordeal though, to fly today in-fact, anyone can afford to fly thanks to technologies making flying safe and cheaper.