Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Transportation Technology

When Flying Was a Thrill 382

Posted by samzenpus
from the back-in-the-day dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Bob Greene writes that flying, with jammed-to-the-groaning-point cabins and torture-rack legroom; fees for everything from checking your bags to being handed a paltry package of food; and the endless, we'll-X-ray-you-to-within-an-inch-of-your-dignity security lines, is too often such a dreary, joy-sapping slog that it's difficult to remember that it was ever any other way. But back in the 1930s, '40s and '50s — even the 60s, flying was a big deal. When a family went on vacation by air, it was a major life event. 'Traveling by air in those years wasn't like boarding a flying bus, the way it is today,' says Christopher Lynch, author of "When Hollywood Landed at Chicago's Midway Airport," a celebration of the golden years of commercial air travel in the United States. 'People didn't travel in flip-flops. I mean, no offense, Mister, but I don't want to see your toes.' The trains were still king in those years and the airlines wanted to convince people that flying was safe. 'People were afraid to fly,' Lynch says. 'And it was expensive. The airlines had to make people think it was something they should try.' That's where Mike Rotunno came in, photographer-for-hire at Midway Airport in Chicago where cross-country flights in those years had to stop to refuel. His pictures of Hollywood stars as they got off the planes made air travel seem to be glamorous, sophisticated, civilized, and thrilling. 'Think of his photos the next time you're shoehorned into a seat next to a fellow who's dripping the sloppy innards of his carry-on submarine sandwich onto your sleeve,' writes Greene. 'Air travel was once a treasured experience, exciting, exotic, something never to be forgotten. You, too, could travel like Elizabeth Taylor.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

When Flying Was a Thrill

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 20, 2012 @04:19AM (#41052207)

    Just buy a ticket for business class.

    • by dintech (998802) on Monday August 20, 2012 @04:34AM (#41052295)

      Louis CK - Everythings Amazing & Nobodys Happy [youtube.com]

      Flying is the worst one because people come back from flights and they tell you their story. And it's like a horror story. They act like their flight was, like, a cattle car in the '40s in Germany. That's how bad they make it sound.

      They're like, "It was the worst day of my life. First of all, we didn't board, for 20 minutes. And then we get on the plane and they made us sit there, on the runway, for 40 minutes. We had to sit there."

      Oh really? What happened next?

      Did you fly, through the air, incredibly, like a bird? Did you partake in the miracle of human flight, YOU NON-CONTRIBUTING ZERO?

      You got to fly.

      You're flying!

      It's amazing!

      Everybody on every plane should just constantly be going, "Oh my God! Wow!"

      You're flying.

      You're sitting in a chair in the sky. . . .

      • by Viol8 (599362) on Monday August 20, 2012 @06:03AM (#41052671)

        Otherwise we'd all still be staring at a wheel or a flint axe and going "Woooow!" So its rather unfair to blame people for complaining about flying conditions when its a normal part of life no matter how amazing flying is technically.

        • by ciderbrew (1860166) on Monday August 20, 2012 @06:32AM (#41052805)
          That bit was the build up to the punchline sort of pointing out how the cutting edge always becomes normal. We just put a nuclear power car on Mars and 100 years ago we could hear air and hope for not death. A chair in the sky is amazing and the phone in your pocket makes Kirk's look like a pile of crap.
          Adult should take stock and go WOW! Only children can say all your old stuff is shit.
          • by Viol8 (599362) on Monday August 20, 2012 @07:55AM (#41053427)

            The human brain makes any of our technology look like amateur rubbish so do you spend your day looking in the mirror thinking how amazing you are? Unless you're a complete narcissist I suspect not but compared to it your smartphone and an aircraft are like childs lego bricks. So no , adults shouldn't take stock and go wow all the time - you deal with the world the way it is.

          • by dgatwood (11270) on Monday August 20, 2012 @01:23PM (#41057567) Journal

            That bit was the build up to the punchline sort of pointing out how the cutting edge always becomes normal.

            That's not it. The reason we are no longer impressed by it is not that merely that it has become normal. Even when the shuttle program eventually got scrubbed, you can't tell me that anyone in those record crowds watching the last few takeoffs thought of it as normal. Even the folks who live down there were always impressed.

            The reason we are no longer impressed with most technology like airplanes and cell phones is that we have come to depend on it, and it has let us down. When airplanes were relatively rare, you didn't have people depending on them for most of their travel. People drove cars. An airplane was an exotic experience because you didn't have to depend on it to get you somewhere that you had to be. In much the same way, nobody cared about dropped calls in the early days because they weren't using them for the bulk of their communication. It was too expensive.

            As soon as any piece of technology becomes a regular part of your life, however, anything that goes wrong becomes a road block for you. Now that people depend on air travel for much of their work and pleasure travel—now that people have grown to depend on being able to readily go long distances for work and vacation—the delays and other problems have more of an impact because they don't build in that extra day to accommodate things going wrong. Similarly, now that many people use cell phones as their primary means of communication, dropped calls are a frequent hassle that bothers people more.

            If you want people to be impressed by something that they actually depend on, you have to do the right thing every time. It has to "just work". Every time. As soon as that consistency starts to falter, people quickly lose patience. And for good reason. A flight delay can cause them to miss the next flight, which puts them stranded in an unknown city halfway across the country from home. That didn't happen nearly as much in the early days of flying, back when on-time performance was less important than getting you there. If your flight was late, to the extent possible, they held the next leg. Now, on many airlines, they're forbidden to do so, and as a result, there's a lot more uncertainty about the ability of air travel to get you where you're going, so when things go wrong, people get edgy. In short, people can't count on the airlines to do the right thing every time. Ditto for the cell phone companies who frequently seem to be in a battle to see who can screw the customer hardest while making it as hard as possible to get justice when they do so (with mandatory binding arbitration clauses, for example).

            And this, in a nutshell, is why technology ceases to thrill—not because it has become commonplace, but because what was once optional has become essential, and because the companies that provide the technology invariably take advantage of that fact to let them get away with poorer service, poorer quality, poorer longevity, etc.

      • by dywolf (2673597) on Monday August 20, 2012 @07:33AM (#41053207)

        I love flying. sure I hate it when some sweaty fat guy/gal didn't buy two tickets or get put next to an empty seat and is half in my lap. sitting on the tarmac in the heat, sucks too.

        But its got its good points too.

        Always get a window seat. I stare out the window. I watch the towns drift past. I name the cities and geographic features I see. If I spot something interesting one of the first things I do once i get to a computer is fire up google maps and figure out what I saw.
        -Did you know the Mississippi river is down so low, the river thats a mile wide for a huge portion of its length, is down so low right now from teh drought, that flying over memphis and other portions of it, it looks like over half its width was dry as bone sandbars? Thats the drought were in right now....the mississippi, the river that drains ~80% of the entire countries watershed.
        -approaching Pheonix on a lfight from 29 Palms to Dallas, about 30 minutes west of pheonix (at altitude and speed, so ~300 miles or so, near the border with cali) was a quarry/pit mine in the middle of the desert. One that was absolutely HUGE from 30000 feet up. Dont know what theyre mining, but from google, and flight, it appears to be over a mile deep, the central pit. And a few miles wide. The civil engineer side of me looks at that and thinks, wow, thats a feat. Thats awesome.
        -I see hidden lakes and rivers and creeks near places Ive lived for years, that I never knew existed.
        -On flights out of San Diego, LA, and San Fran, when they have to loop out over the ocean before turning back inland on takeoff, I've seen whales, scores of them, swiming along. Big ones (grey or fin?) and small (dolphins and orca). Often only a mile or so from shore.
        -Flying into (and out of) turkminstan and afghanistan on my deployment, I swore I was flyinig across portions of nevada, the desert terrain is so similar. And again, there is no much hidden greenery around little water seeps, rivers and lakes. Bagram is in the middle of nowhere, thats why theres a base there. Just a few ridges over its like a huge valley oasis (relatively, for a desert), and naturally that's where the people, mostly farmers, are concentrated. They dont show you much of the rugged beauty and scenery of the place when they show the news. Everyone thinks its just sand and camels, but its familiar territory for anyone who's lived int eh southwest.
        -Flying across the desert of new mexico, I seen white sands test range
        -flying across so cal, i seen the muroc dry lake, with its giant rose compass, and the dry lake "runway" the shuttle landed on. as a aviation buff, that place is magic land anyway
        -had a flight once fly over near the tonopah test range and airfield due to storm forced divert. didnt cross the airspace, but apaprently we got pertty close to their flight paths over there, cause in a couple successive flashes of lightning, i saw a flight of F117s crossing our line of flight, a few thousand feet below us.

        There's magic out there still in flying.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Exactly. The only people who flew in the 1930s to the 1960s were the rich. Why are we surprised that they flew in luxury?

      The fact the the middle class can fly today only means that the price to fly has dropped dramatically.

      • by SpzToid (869795)

        Maybe I am wrong, and I'm too lazy to Search The Net, but I think flying is much safer now too.

      • by captainpanic (1173915) on Monday August 20, 2012 @06:58AM (#41052937)

        Exactly. The only people who flew in the 1930s to the 1960s were the rich. Why are we surprised that they flew in luxury?

        The fact the the middle class can fly today only means that the price to fly has dropped dramatically.

        Of course, that is obvious... this article just complains that we still don't have flying cars, free energy and everlasting happiness. So far, every article that claims that the past was better has been full of logical fallacies. Usually they compare a romanticised past with a pessimistic view of the present. The past sucked for most people, but some are reluctant to admit it.

        I have had lovely flights quite recently. Friendly stewardesses, nice view, decent seat with leg space (not too much, but enough), and a free drink + lunch + coffee. A minimal chech-in time (30 min before departure), only a metal detector as a security and very quick bagage handling. Also, public transportation to and from airports has vastly improved (in Europe, at least).

        And all that for 100 euro for a 2 hrs flight (i.e. 1200 km), which I booked online in a matter of 10 minutes.

        No way that was better in the 1960s.

        • by mcwop (31034)
          Could not agree more. I fly 50,000 miles a year. I don't mind it, but I am not a fat heifer either. You want a comfy seat go first class, or get extra legroom, then you can pay up for it. Virgin America is awesome and like Jet Blue you have satellite TV, and movies. I watched the NFL playoffs last year on my Virgin flight. I can imagine the 30's on a 10 hour, bumpy-assed flight that needs to refuel, and I would have missed the playoffs. And the security is no big deal, just follow the freaking rules, and yo
          • "The freaking rules," however, are in flagrant violation of at least the spirit, if not the letter, of the biggest "freaking rule" in the nation, the Constitution. Some of us take issue with this and so security becomes a big deal.

      • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Monday August 20, 2012 @07:39AM (#41053273)

        It's dropping from middle class to working poor. You've got to be really dirt poor to benefit (economically) from taking a bus across country compared to flying.

        4 days lost productivity is more than airfare, even at minimum wage.

    • Its worth noting that one of the biggest changes between then and now is ... deregulation!

      Up until 1978, airlines in the US were heavily regulated due to competition issues - routes were controlled, prices were controlled, even the level of service an airline can give was controlled. The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 removed these controls, allowing freer competition between airlines in the US.

      What effect did deregulation have? Catastrophic - ticket prices have fallen by 40% since 1978, but at the same

      • by roca (43122)

        A 40% reduction in ticket prices in exchange for reduced service is only catastrophic if you're relatively wealthy. For most of the population, it's a vast improvement.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          Its not a reduced service, its a dramatic reduction in service levels - the two are not the same, as noted by the abundance of people willing to decry "cattle class".

          The reduction in ticket prices have also slashed airline profit margins, to the point where in the past decade all major US airlines have declared bankruptcy at least once - consider that also in the wake of deregulation, the US has lost pretty much half of its major carriers, and the remaining carriers are still struggling to survive...

          Hardly

          • by LurkerXXX (667952) on Monday August 20, 2012 @06:22AM (#41052773)

            You know, just because lots of things have happened IN THE LAST 34 YEARS doesn't meane they are all due to deregulation.

            You'll find that lots of other big companies have bought up or weeded out most of their competitors in other fields too. Back in the 90's I used to buy Computer Shopper magazine, where there were thousands and thousands of companies building PCs for you to buy. Today almost all those companies are gone. I guess that must be due to some deregulation. That or maybe, just maybe business fields tend to change over time even without deregulation being the cause.

          • by Alioth (221270)

            Southwest is a major US airline. They have never reported a loss in their entire history, and have never gone bankrupt. They were the only airline that didn't knee jerk slash schedules after 9/11. Their planes were still pretty full in the aftermath, too.

            Perhaps it's because they understand how to run an airline, instead of whine that the old business model doesn't work anymore.

            • by tibit (1762298)

              A major part of their business plan is capping the growth, IIRC at 8% of capacity. They have, correctly, figured out that growth brings wide internal changes that can only happen at a certain pace and no faster, and just because you've got more passengers that you can carry, passengers aren't everything. I can't but admire their leadership's business acumen. All that in spite of fierce opposition from various parties who did everything they could to keep them from surviving as a business in their early year

      • by dj245 (732906)
        Catastrophic? I hardly think you can blame all the airline troubles on deregulation. Read up on what it meant to fly before deregulation- routes pricing was set by the government. It is a clear example of government price controls of a service commodity. Some people would call that communist. I would only call it unnecessary.

        Talk to anyone in the airline industry and they will tell you the unions are the problem. Airline unions, especially pilot and flight attendant unions, are crazy. Just in the
  • Or fly business / first class, and that from any point on earth except the US. The US is the only country AFAIK which use nude scanner.
    • This isn't true - just went through scanners in Amsterdam last week. I was flying between Europe and the US - and only went through scanners in Europe.

      • I flew FRA-AMS more than once this year , and also FRA-ZRH, MUC-CDG, LON-FRA, not even counting a holiday trip to FCO and at no point whatsoever I ahd to go thru an x ray scanner. I did not even *see* one.
    • by isorox (205688)

      Or fly business / first class, and that from any point on earth except the US. The US is the only country AFAIK which use nude scanner.

      What are you on about? They're all over the place. This year alone I've had to tactfully avoid them at 3 U.S airports, half a dozen European airports, Moscow and Erez (and that's not even for a plane!).

      • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

        You can dodge them at many airports, but then there are the real thug outfits like Phoenix that push everybody through them.

  • Sure, rich people looked rich back in the good old days. Same thing with the ocean liners in 1st class: very upper-class, luxurious, glamorous. But most people who traveled on ocean liners didn't travel in 1st class, so it was hardly the norm. The difference with early planes was that there was basically only a 1st class, due to a lack of room to include a 2nd class or steerage section.

    • Even more so with LTA flight, which this article fails to mention at all. The fact that there is zero mention of Zeppelins - the real, obvious parallel to ocean liners which first sold the public on the dream of flying - suggests to me that this is a bit of free airlines advertising.

  • by isaac (2852) on Monday August 20, 2012 @04:22AM (#41052231)

    I want safe, quick transportation from point A to point B at a reasonable price. Modern air travel mostly delivers this. It didn't use to.

    Air travel was of dubious safety and blinding expense in the '30s, '40s, '50s - and wasn't particularly comfortable either. I don't wish to return to that era, one bit.

    -Isaac

    • by ccguy (1116865) on Monday August 20, 2012 @04:40AM (#41052349) Homepage

      I want safe, quick transportation from point A to point B at a reasonable price.667 Modern air travel mostly delivers this.

      Only if your definition of quick only includes time elapsed between take off and landing. Definitely not that fast if you time door to door and include everything.

      Also, why isn't a 'medium' class anymore? One would think that any company that provided decent legroom at a reasonable price would make a killing. Seriously, I don't want to pay business fares just so I can have a flight in which I'm not worried about the retard on the front row putting their seat all the way down (at the risk of breaking my knees), but I'd be happy to pay twice the coach fare if I could have the legroom from the seat in front on mine (ie half the rows at twice the price).

      A flight from Madrid to New York costs 400 euros in coach, around 3000 in business. Damn, give me something decent for 800! I don't need champagne, I don't need slippers, I don't need a private selection of movies. I just need the legroom.

      • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@nOSPam.gmail.com> on Monday August 20, 2012 @05:07AM (#41052465)

        A flight from Madrid to New York costs 400 euros in coach, around 3000 in business. Damn, give me something decent for 800! I don't need champagne, I don't need slippers, I don't need a private selection of movies. I just need the legroom.

        Most airlines have a Premium Economy option these days. Expect to pay about twice as much as regular Economy.
        It's roughly equivalent in terms of legroom and service as Business Class was ~20 years ago.

      • by pspahn (1175617)

        Definitely not that fast if you time door to door and include everything.

        Eh? Door to door, flying from Denver to San Francisco, it's about half a day. 2.5 hour flight, an hour and a half on each side for getting to/from the airport, boarding, etc. Toss in some random stops to 7-11 or something and you're looking at spending about 6-8 hours of travel time.

        On the other hand, the fastest I have ever done the same driving was approximately 17 hours, which included driving 85+ MPH across most of Nevada/Utah (my digital speedometer only went to 85.. then it just blinked, so idea my a

        • by ccguy (1116865) on Monday August 20, 2012 @05:14AM (#41052487) Homepage

          Eh? Door to door, flying from Denver to San Francisco, it's about half a day. 2.5 hour flight, an hour and a half on each side for getting to/from the airport, boarding, etc. Toss in some random stops to 7-11 or something and you're looking at spending about 6-8 hours of travel time.

          Am I missing something?

          Yes, high speed trains, but of course they may not be available in your country or for your desired trip.
          When available it's a no brainer. The total time is roughly is same (for distances up to 1000 km), and they go from city center to city center, and they're a lot more comfortable.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by demonlapin (527802)
            High speed rail will not work in the US outside of the Northeast Corridor because nowhere else has the kind of density needed to make it work. 1000 km in the US is a quick trip - the example he gives, Denver to SF, is more than double that. And rail requires a large and expensive infrastructure, one which is going to have to be duplicated (because our existing rail system is optimized for freight hauling, at which task it is one of the most efficient in the world). It's a cool idea, and in some places it ma
            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by AmiMoJo (196126)

              Seems to work well in Japan over similarly long distances and much more difficult terrain. They initially started building Shinkansen (bullet train lines) in response to demand but then realized that actually if you build it they will come. Rather than just looking for existing demand they partnered with developers and retailers to create new destinations between big cities, or to create business by giving people the opportunity to travel to places that were previously inaccessible due to long travel times

              • Seems to work well in Japan over similarly long distances and much more difficult terrain.

                Where do you get the idea that distances are similar? Japan is the size of California. Your trip from Tokyo to Osaka is a whopping 318 miles. A trip from Detroit to Denver is 1200 miles. That's only a two timezone trip. If I wanted to go to the west coast a trip from Detroit to LA is 2200 miles.

            • by dkleinsc (563838)

              That's simply not true.

              There are many serious proposals of high-speed rail lines in other areas of the country where there are cities spaced no more than 100 miles apart, or about an hour by high-speed rail. To get an idea of how fast it would be, take driving times, divide by two, and add 40 minutes to get to and from the train station (which will probably be near the middle of the city). Then compare that with flight times + 1 hour on each end to get to and from the airport.

              So, for example, Boston to Chic

          • by GNious (953874)

            Precisely:
            Flight Brussels-UK, incl check-in time and security and whatnuts: 2.5-3 hours
            Train Brussels-UK, incl everything: 2 hours

            Difference: Train takes you from central Brussels (Zuid) to more-or-less central London (St Pancras).

            Why anyone wants to fly between places connected by highspeed trains is beyond me, yet I see people doing it regularly.

          • by isorox (205688)

            When available it's a no brainer. The total time is roughly is same (for distances up to 1000 km), and they go from city center to city center, and they're a lot more comfortable.

            Well walking is faster than a high speed train (for distances up to 4km). Not much use.

            However, high speed train for 1000km. From my house in Manchester to Brussels. 334 miles (534km) as the crow flies.

            Last trip on the way back. We both departed the bar^H^H^H office at 20:00.
            Me
            Arrive Brussels airport 20:15
            Depart Brussels airport 21:15
            Arrive Manchester airport 22:45 (Brussels time)
            Get in car 23:00
            Home 23:15

            Him
            Arrive Brussels Midi 20:20
            Depart Brussels 21:10
            Arrive London St Pancras 23:15
            (he had immigration pro

      • by isorox (205688)

        Only if your definition of quick only includes time elapsed between take off and landing. Definitely not that fast if you time door to door and include everything.

        So, last week, which included a change in London
        06:15 depart home
        06:30 arrive airport (Manchester)
        06:32 check in (straight to front of queue obviously)
        06:35 arrive security
        06:40 arrive lounge, pick up newspaper, get some cereal and OJ
        07:15 depart for plane
        07:30 wheels up
        08:15 wheels down
        08:30 leave plane
        08:35 arrive lounge, proper cooked breakfast, get on with emails
        09:45 leave for plane
        10:00 on plane
        10:30 wheels up
        19:30(UK) arrive Delhi
        19:45 collect suitcase, get in taxi

        Thats 12h30 minutes to cover 4,243 m

      • by Kjella (173770)

        Only if your definition of quick only includes time elapsed between take off and landing. Definitely not that fast if you time door to door and include everything.

        Depends on where you are, going 5-600 km here in Norway my choices are:
        1. Airport express + airplane + airport bus = 3.5 hours
        2. Train: 6.5 hours
        3. Bus: 8 hours

        Could it be done in 2-3 hours if we had 250-300 km/h rail? Yes. But we're not going to get that because it'd cost billions of dollars building tunnels and bridges and keeping it clear of snow and ice in the winter. And dealing with a moose impact is a big problem at 300 km/h. But we can build airports on each end, ignoring the whole problem.

        Also, why isn't a 'medium' class anymore? One would think that any company that provided decent legroom at a reasonable price would make a killing.

        I know at

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          And dealing with a moose impact is a big problem at 300 km/h.

          It seems to me like this is a problem which really could be solved technically. We can make mine-clearing trucks that look like farm equipment, why can't we strap a great bloody blade on a shock absorber onto the front of the train and simply cleave moose in twain?

      • that any company that provided decent legroom at a reasonable price would make a killing.

        And one would be wrong. There just aren't enough customers willing to pay a premium for a couple extra inches of legroom.

  • by dtmos (447842) * on Monday August 20, 2012 @04:24AM (#41052235)

    We would look forward for weeks to a flight, and wear our best clothes. There was no security hassle, and you waited in the departure area for your flight to be called, then walked outside to the gate in the chain-link fence that led to the planes. Somebody pointed out which one was yours, and you went up the stairs and got in. The rest of your friends and family who were there to see you off stayed behind the fence, and waved at you, and watched the door close, the engines start, and your plane taxi away. If it was a reasonably small airport your friends could wait and try to identify your plane as it took off.

    Ah, those were the days. (Sniffle.)

    • by ccguy (1116865)

      We would look forward for weeks to a flight, and wear our best clothes.

      Yeah, I remember visiting the deluxe sweatpants section in my local department store the day before flying. Those were the days.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      You can still have the same experience today, by paying an amount similar to what the ticket cost in those days. Fly in first class, the experience is totally different.

      Ah, and in those days, I think that most international trips required several refueling stops. The plane had to be comfortable because you were there for 2 or 3 days.
  • by brillow (917507)

    It was also incredibly expensive.

    The reasons travel today sucks is because its cheaper and thus more people do it.

    Also, what kind of elitist prick wishes people would "dress up" to go on a goddamn airplane? How about I wear whatever I want and you shut up?

    We don't need the pretension of fancy clothes in this millennium. By these standards Jobs and Gates are both slobs.

    • Who wants us to feel special and mushy when walking onto an airplane? Probably someone involved in the airline industry...

    • by ZankerH (1401751) on Monday August 20, 2012 @04:57AM (#41052419)

      By these standards Jobs and Gates are both slobs.

      Yes, yes they are.
      Is it really too much to ask that people dress in a way that makes it possible to estimate their financial standing without direct contact?

      • by ccguy (1116865)

        Is it really too much to ask that people dress in a way that makes it possible to estimate their financial standing without direct contact?

        It works that way already, just not in the way you seem to expect. If there's a meeting with IT people, the guy in the suit is sucking up to the guy in jeans, turtleneck shirt, or whatever. Not the other way around.

        Or, if they're consultants working in the same company, the guy in the suit is telling the other guy why he should dress like him even if it's the fucking summer, there's 40 degrees C outside and you need to have the AC wasting lots of energy so that the suit guys are comfortable, at the expens

    • It is one of those kind of "author reminiscing about flying in a time when he would never have been able to afford to do so" stories.

  • Having Otto with the big hands and fat wrists checking my prostate for explosives is right up there with the most thrilling experiences of my life. Every time he asks me to grab for my ankles I channel Ned Beatty and go to my happy place. It's still better than flying Jet Blue.
  • by NetDanzr (619387) on Monday August 20, 2012 @04:43AM (#41052363)
    You dont have to look that far into the past. Back in the 1980s, I was flying about once or twice per year between Prague and Lisbon and back. Always used Czechoslovak Airlines. The plane was largely empty, so I got to sit in the front, in facing seats with a table between them. Even when I had to sit in the "regular" class (I hesitate to call it economy, because it was nothing like today's cattle pens), we got a stewardess taking orders for drinks and snacks. And we got linen napkins with the main meal...

    Ok, enough nostalgia. I'm now at the stage where speed is secondary to comfort. I want my zeppelins back!

    • 1995 Sabena from Leeds to Brussels. Tiny little plane, you couldn't really stand up. Plates in real porcelain, glass in real glass, cutlery in steel. Hot food, prepared on board. Some champagne before we even got in the air. A Belgian chocolate served separately as a desert. Now get off my lawn!!
      • Ahh, I remember Sabena, I flew with them on fairly frequent flights from Brussels to UK in 2001, tickets were cheap as dirt, and the plane was almost empty as no-one trusted that the airline would still be in business the next week. I didn't mind one bit (I saved more than enough on my flights, and paid via credit card in case they went bust - if I lost a flight it wouldn't be the end of the world) - on a couple of flights the flight attendants outnumbered the passengers, so there was excellent service.

        Of

  • I'm not sure about the flip-flops part, but one day, space travel will be pretty much like this.

  • So let me get this right. Once upon a time, people treated getting into an aeroplane as a formal occasion, wearing suits and ties for a simple transportation event. Whereas we now treat it like any other instance of being out in public: it's fine to wear jeans and a teeshirt in a park or the subway, so it's fine to do the same in a plane. This is an argument for the old days?

    And in which demented world is pressuring people to wear leather shoes instead of sandals or flip-flops on an intercontinental flight

    • by dtmos (447842) *

      Formal dress was de rigueur because, at the time, it wasn't a "simple transportation event." You were flying, something that only the upper class did, so you dressed as if you were a member of the upper class (or as close as you could get). Once jets came in in the 1950s, you were not only flying, you were part of the "Jet Set [wikipedia.org]"!

      Besides, you were being seen by the public, and who wouldn't want to make a good first impression on someone you just met? After all, this was an era when people wore suits and ti

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r1CZTLk-Gk [youtube.com]

    This sums up pretty well the general population's attitude towards both air travel and technology in general.

  • by Chewbacon (797801) on Monday August 20, 2012 @05:17AM (#41052497)
    I refuse to wear socks or toed shoes outside of work unless absolutely necessary (i.e. mowing lawns, lifting heavy shit). Always have. So when the airport started demanding that I remove my shoes, I smiled and said no problem. I really wanted to say "catch!" as I'm pretty accurate kicking them where I want them to land, but figured TSA wouldn't get the humor in it.
  • "When sex was safe and flying was dangerous"
  • if the tea party losers would shut up for a moment, you can get DOWNTOWN point A to DOWNTOWN point B in very fast time, faster than a plane taking into consideration the taxi to the two airports of point A and point B, and very luxuriously since the cost of another 5 feet of leg room contributes negligibly to the cost of moving the tons of steel

    asia, europe, beyond the idiots in my country who want to live shorter lives and pay more for healthcare insurance so some insurance asshole can make more crony (not

    • Ahhh, and you've put together a coalition of friends with land stretching from major city to major city who are willing to have one of these lines fly through their backyard every 40 minutes, 24 hours a day?

      Even ignoring the property acquisition cost, these things are expensive. Standard rail is several million dollars per mile, high speed rail is more expensive (debatable on how much more, but we can pretty much guarantee it's not cheaper).

      The US has a fantastic train system, it's just not economical to mo

      • eminent domain has it's place. the community good is a valid concept for condemning private property

        that it gets abused due to the relationship between corporations and government in this country should not mean that other countries get high speed rail while Americans get to sit in grid lock or cattle car airplanes

        look, this shit is evil:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelo_v._City_of_New_London [wikipedia.org]

        so is China herding poor people to open train lines

        but Europe can do it fairly

        i don't want to hear about eminent doma

    • Step one: Double everyone's taxes.... Because, you see, rail costs money. Yeah, I wish we had a TGV on the DC-NYC run. But, given that 20 miles of rain from Falls Church VA to Dulles VA is costing $4E9, I don't want to think about the cost of a new rail line from DC to NYC.

  • by jamesl (106902) on Monday August 20, 2012 @05:41AM (#41052579)

    You too, could travel like Elizabeth Taylor.

    If you had Elizabeth Taylor's money. Today, if you have Elizabeth Taylor's money, you charter a jet.

  • Pretty well nobody is willing to pay for better seats on the plane. Everyone wants to pay as little as possible because air travel stretches the budget of most people quite a bit, even when they get less expensive fares. To save money we have accepted less legroom, less customer service, less respect, more delay, etc. I've paid fees to check bags, I've been on planes where the bathroom is so tiny I could barely stand up. I've been on planes so small - on major carriers - that my carry-on bag had to be g
  • by argStyopa (232550) on Monday August 20, 2012 @06:18AM (#41052751) Journal

    When it costs the same as bus fare, the experience is much like, well, a bus.

    The fact was that air travel used to be extraordinarily expensive. IIRC a Washington-Cleveland ticket was around $100 in the new, cheap "coach" class...which is like $900 today.

    Now I can get that flight for $100 2012 dollars.

    I guess my comment to the writer is that if he wants to travel comfortably, then he needs to pay for first class flights which have surprisingly not changed much over time (aside from inflation). Of course, most people think those are stupid expensive.

  • by bradley13 (1118935) on Monday August 20, 2012 @06:24AM (#41052779) Homepage

    I'll settle for days not so far in the past. I used to fly out of Dallas Love Field, which is a fairly small airport. Park you car, walk to the check-in counter, walk to the gate, get on the plane. Somewhere in there you walked through a metal detector. Total elapsed time: 30 minutes.

    Now, in the US with TSA security theater, you have to allow 90 minutes. An entire extra hour, times 600,000,000 flights per year: TSA costs the equivalent of more than 1000 lifetimes of time each and every year. Add to that the monetary and social costs of paying an army of morons to humiliate everyone, and you can only shake your head in disgust...

    I want to go back to simple security measures, run by the airlines, who presumably have some interest in (a) efficiency and (b) customer service.

  • Not exactly plagiarism, but Patton Oswalt already did a chunk on this a few years ago.
  • If your plane isn't cancelled or you're not bumped or it gets to where it's supposed to less than 5 hrs late, it's amazing.

  • Isn't a TSA groping thrilling enough for this guy?

    Someone should start an online database of where the hot TSA employees are. If you are going to get felt up you might as well get your money's worth.

  • Here's An Idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BlueStrat (756137) on Monday August 20, 2012 @07:04AM (#41052985)

    How about we use this wonderful network of tubes to set up a method and system for organizing and grouping people who want to fly from point A to point B and combine their travel money to schedule/hire chartered flights?

    A project for Kickstarter, maybe? Crowd-sourced?

    I'm not sure precisely how it would work, but I see this system where you can use your phone or computer to post proposed charter flights and/or browse existing proposed charter flights by origin/destination/schedule/price looking for one that fits your travel plans that has openings.

    Handle the airlines (and the TSA) like how the internet was originally designed to handle damage...route around them.

    Strat

  • Well, to all those who miss the days, just wait 5-10 years when oil becomes substantially more expensive and flying is no longer a means of transportation for the "normal" people.

    Since we have no alternatives to flight that don't use fuel, and we aren't really investigating anything seriously, it will mean a return to "local is good" mentality, and a lot less air travel.

  • In 1965, I got a bargain round trip to London from a student association charter on Icelandic Airlines. It was the first time I ever flew . The cost was $600, 18% of my graduate student yearly stipend. In today's dollars that is $4300.

    If you want old fashion service, take your dollars and fly first class. It is still less than I paid.

  • by mveloso (325617) on Monday August 20, 2012 @10:36AM (#41055287)

    My kids love to fly. If you want to re-experience the thrill of flying, have kids. For them it's a blast.

    For everyone else, well, it's called AirBus for a reason.

What the world *really* needs is a good Automatic Bicycle Sharpener.

Working...