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Loquacis
10-02-2010, 03:37 AM
Could someone describe for me how going through airport securities in the 80s was like? Were there metal detectors? How about those wand things the officers use? The conveyors belts? This is for a national flight.

In fact, could you describe the flight experience in general? How was it different than it is today?

Thanks!

Qbynewbie
10-02-2010, 04:16 AM
What security? :D

Seriously, I remember no security. Sure, there were rent-a-cops around most airports but I really don't remember anything like "security" as we use that term today.

You could go to Boston's Logan airport, arrive in a cab at 9:55, run through the airport and be on the 10:00 Shuttle to NYC or DC. Seriously. I'm not kidding.

How was it different than today? Let's see:

1. Large jets on most routes. *** No *** small jets -- they didn't exist back then.

2. Most flights were at best half-full. Red-eyes were always really empty. It was always easy to find a row of three empty seats on a red-eye, raise the arms and sleep all the way across the country lying down.

3. Service was cordial, pleasant and meant to be "service". There was nothing emphasized about security at all. Safety was mentioned but the primary purpose of the stewardesses (who were not called flight attendants at the time) was to make the flight pleasant for the passengers. Consequently, most were young, pretty and pleasant.

4. Ticket prices were often higher then, in actual price, than they are now. A cross-country fare that costs $600 today might have cost $800 back then. Figure in the effect of inflation and you can see that air travel, in real dollar terms, was much more expensive back then. That's why they could afford to fly half-empty planes and provide great service.

5. Flights were often bad because weather resources were primitive compared to what we have now. It was not unusual to fly through rather rough weather -- weather that would be circumnavigated today.

6. Meals were better. In first class, meals were much -- much -- better than they are now. On cross-country flights, it wouldn't be unusual to have Lobster Thermidor or some other "deluxe" meal, followed by a warm dessert with liqueurs and ice cream. Wines, champagnes and drinks flowed in first class. Even in coach, the quality of meals back then was quite a bit better than it is today.

7. People dressed to fly. Men were in suits and women in dresses.

8. Schedules were more often missed. Planes were frequently late taking off and arriving back then.

That's all I can think of right now. :)

Linda Adams
10-02-2010, 04:50 AM
Could someone describe for me how going through airport securities in the 80s was like?

To give you an idea of how much things have changed, sometime in the early 1990s, I was on my way back from Wisconsin to Washington state. A friend who lived in the barracks was picking me up at the airport. I had two connecting flights. My first one was delayed so that I missed the next flight. Delta booked me on two more connecting flights, and everything was timed such that I literally had no time to try to call the barracks to tell her the flight had changed (all three flights suffered delays of mechnical problems, tire problems, or computer problems). She shows up at the airport for the original flight. I'm not there. So she goes to the ticket counter and finds out the flight I was actually on. You couldn't do that today.

Then, there weren't any metal detectors. Family members could walk you right up to the gate and stay with you until your flight took off. They would wait at the door as you emerged from the gate. You got a paper ticket in advance, and the gate person would tear off half of it. As you went on the plane, a stewardess stood in the door and checked the ticket again to make sure you were on the right plane and pointed you to your seat.

In 1983, my family was flying to Chicago. The flight was delayed for inexplicable reasons. The staff were pretty vague about why and kept hedging. After five hours, they finally told us why: They lost the airplane in the airport. The airline was an old one, in the process of dying at the time.


Were there metal detectors? How about those wand things the officers use?

No metal detectors. No wands--those are a newer technology. No officers, either. TSA has only been around since after 911.


The conveyors belts? This is for a national flight.

The baggage conveyor belts have been around forever.


In fact, could you describe the flight experience in general? How was it different than it is today?

I think the biggest difference is that most airports now use special ramps for the passengers to get out the plane. Then, they'd wheel a metal stairway to the door of the plane, and everyone would have to board via it. So we'd all come out, airplane noise buzzing around us and wind whipping, and have to climb this really steep stairway. Some airports still have this, by the way.

The actual flight experience is about the same--uncomfortable, pressurized cabins, etc. A lot of the airline seats seemed to be odd combinations of color, like pink and orange. You could smoke on planes at one point, though I'm not sure when this was banned. Flight attendents also had a weight limit--that was pretty controversial at one point because women were getting fired for gaining five pounds. The uniforms were often very short skirts (remember that pink and orange (http://www.flickr.com/photos/amphalon/2496835849/in/gallery-900hp-72157622389072042/) combo? Yup).

They served peanuts as snacks--no peanut allergy fears then. You got a meal with your flight. They also passed out magazines in plastic covers.

I remember, too, that a flight actually went half full to Hawaii. The airline tried to pass all the passenges to another airline entirely. We trooped through two terminals, carrying all our luggage, only to be told no. Back w went. The two seats next to me were empty on the flight, so I lay down and stretched out (though very bad--they started to descend and changed the pressure. Pain! My ears hurt for days!).

It seems like also that the airlines shut down the restrooms and went to buckle your seatbelt almost an entire half an hour before landing (that's always the time when you have to use the bathroom). Now it seems like it's about 15 minutes before landing.

For research, try looking up Pacific Southwest Airlines. They merged with several other airlines in 1988. There is a surprising amount of information available on the internet for them, including a lot of photos.

leahzero
10-02-2010, 04:50 AM
Google "history of airport security."

Baggage and passenger screening was made mandatory by 1973. So yes, metal detectors were being used then.

leahzero
10-02-2010, 04:54 AM
No metal detectors. No wands--those are a newer technology. No officers, either. TSA has only been around since after 911.

See my post above. Baggage and passenger screening was mandated by the FAA in 1972 and put into practice January, 1973.

Google's timeline search is very helpful for this. You can find references to airport metal detectors well back into the 1970s. Here's a random article about LAX from October 1970:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=2E4fAAAAIBAJ&sjid=ndEEAAAAIBAJ&pg=767,1937545&dq=airport+metal+detector&hl=en

Quote from the article:


Morton checked the bag and went to the boarding gate where the light flashed on the electronic device used to detect large metal objects on persons who pass by.

Qbynewbie
10-02-2010, 04:59 AM
I used to fly pretty often in the 1980s and I recall absolutely no screening of passengers or bags. It's entirely possible that I've forgotten walking through one of those old-fashioned metal detectors (that look just like a doorway) but there was nothing at all with wands or anything like that. Nothing like there is today. There was absolutely no real security, no matter what Google is turning up.

Wayne K
10-02-2010, 05:02 AM
I don't remember them either.

leahzero
10-02-2010, 05:03 AM
Qbynewbie: did you fly out of large urban airports, or small municipal ones?

Just browsing through Google's news archive, there are tons of references to metal detectors in airports in the early 1970s.

Here's a link for news articles from 1970-1974 (as far back as Google's news archive goes):

http://www.google.com/archivesearch?q=airport+metal+detector&scoring=a&sa=N&sugg=d&as_ldate=1970&as_hdate=1974&lnav=hist0

JulieHowe
10-02-2010, 05:08 AM
I walked through metal detectors at LAX Airport in the summer of 1986. Things didn't start getting seriously weird with airport security until the fall of 1990, at least based on what I experienced, but for as long as I've been breathing, there have always been metal detectors at the airport.

Loved ones used to be able to walk you all the way to the boarding gate, hang out with you until it was time to board the plane, and then they could stand and watch the plane take off through the huge plate-glass windows. I recall shopping at the stores inside the airport and watching planes take off from LAX on a day when I had no airline ticket or boarding pass. You can't do this anymore.

Flight attendants used to be really sweet and friendly and there was far more legroom on airplanes in the 1980s. The food was inedible and tasteless.

Edited to add: Airport metal detectors and handheld security wands were definitely in place from 1974 onward, at least in large airports. I've got a bunch of researched articles stashed somewhere on my hard drive. I believe the use of handheld security wands came and went as needed - I definitely wasn't 'wanded' when I passed through LAX in the summer of 1986.

Qbynewbie
10-02-2010, 05:13 AM
Qbynewbie: did you fly out of large urban airports, or small municipal ones?

Just browsing through Google's news archive, there are tons of references to metal detectors in airports in the early 1970s.

Here's a link for news articles from 1970-1974 (as far back as Google's news archive goes):

http://www.google.com/archivesearch?q=airport+metal+detector&scoring=a&sa=N&sugg=d&as_ldate=1970&as_hdate=1974&lnav=hist0

As I search back into the depths of pre-history (meaning my early adulthood :D), I do finally remember walking through those very simple metal detectors that were really just a frame of wood essentially. You just walked through them. There was no big process at all.

I flew out of Boston a lot. Flying out of Worcester was even easier, if that was possible.

Memory is a funny thing and we often forget things and substitute our own reality for what really happened. It's possible that I'm doing that here but, truly, there was essentially no security. Anyone could get in and walk right up to the gate to meet people or hug them goodbye.

It was a very different world back then and more civilized.

debirlfan
10-02-2010, 05:50 AM
The 80's were a loooooonnnng time ago. :)

That said, I think I remember walking through a metal detector. The only time I ever encountered anything like a "wand" was on a trip to the Azores in '85 - they unzipped our carry-on bags and waved a wand over them (I personally suspect it might just have been a piece of wood) - that was also the only place I ever remember getting on/off a jet via a "roll up" metal staircase.

One thing I haven't seen mentioned here - back in that era, many of the smaller airports were serviced by prop planes - locally here in SE Connecticut, there was "Pilgrim Airlines" flying Twin Otter aircraft. Most folk referred to them as "White Knuckle Airlines".....

MaryMumsy
10-02-2010, 05:53 AM
In the early-mid 80's the hubby was flying somewhere for work. There was one of those walk through metal detectors. He set it off and had to be wanded. The buzzer went off at his back pocket. It was his badge. He and security had a good laugh. Today they probably wouldn't let him take it on the plane. I know we had a kerfuffle here in Phoenix a few years ago. An elderly passenger had an item the initial security screeners didn't want to let him take. It was his Congressional Medal of Honor. Higher up security was called and common sense prevailed.

MM

JulieHowe
10-02-2010, 06:08 AM
Memory is a funny thing and we often forget things and substitute our own reality for what really happened. It's possible that I'm doing that here but, truly, there was essentially no security. Anyone could get in and walk right up to the gate to meet people or hug them goodbye.



That's exactly what I remember all the way up until Sept. 11th.

backslashbaby
10-02-2010, 08:04 AM
I remember walking through metal detectors in Greensboro and Charlotte, probably Newark (??).

They did something to check the hand luggage, but I can't remember whether it was X-rayed or what. I feel like it was. It could have been randomly hand-checked. Or both. That's hard to recall, but you didn't take it through the metal detector.

Anyway, definitely some metal detectors. It was all very fast.

There wasn't this huge divide of whether you were through security or not. Nowadays, you can only have drinks in your bag, etc on the side after security that you've bought after security. Same for big shampoo bottles -- all that stuff that you are only allowed a teeny quantity that you pack yourself.

I remember going through security before and walking back out to find someone, disregarding security on my way back through. No biggie. They noticed you, but they remembered you'd been checked. Nowadays, they have to recheck you if you've been in contact with non-secure folks/items.

Qbynewbie
10-02-2010, 08:21 AM
I remember going through security before and walking back out to find someone, disregarding security on my way back through. No biggie. They noticed you, but they remembered you'd been checked. Nowadays, they have to recheck you if you've been in contact with non-secure folks/items.

Yes. Exactly.

Cyia
10-02-2010, 08:22 AM
I remember in the early nineties the news did a story on a bunch of restaurants inside major airports. They were places like steakhouses with large knives left on the tables, unattended as part of the place settings, and they were past the metal detectors.

So yeah, security wasn't quite so secure.

Kenn
10-02-2010, 01:14 PM
My first venture to the US was in October 1989 (when I had several internal flights also). Despite the Lockerbie bombing the previous year, I was amazed at the lax security (I don't mean LAX!). So much so, that I even discussed the differences between Europe and the US with one of the security men. Things were a lot more geared up in Europe, presumably because of the real threat of terrorism. In the US, security seemed to be focused more on hijacking than on bombing. There were metal arch screens, but I think these were there to detect guns rather than bombs (likewise the wand detectors which would be used if you set off the alarm). My last visit over there was in 1997 and I don't remember security being tightened up very much in the interim period. I think the use of mobile staircases is more to do with where you are rather than becoming obsolete with time. Some planes are in fact too small to use them.

Another thing that struck me was how much cheaper flight travel was in the US than in Europe (prices have tumbled in Europe since). The food was poor on my flights and the aircraft tended to be quite old (and empty for the internal flights). I don't ever remember flight attendants (anywhere) being especially polite. Also, I don't remember any airports that did not have conveyor belts, but I imagine that some of the small ones might not have had them.

firedrake
10-02-2010, 01:22 PM
I flew a fair bit during the 80s.
I remember:

1. Taking domestic flights in the US was like catching a bus.
2. Friends/family would be waiting at the arrival gate to meet passengers.
3. Flights would take off when bad weather was expected, but, after the Kansas City crash when a plane was brought down by a down-draft, that changed.
4. Yup, definitely a lot of empty seats.

The only time I remember a stringent security check was when flying to Jordan from the UK on Royal Jordanian back in the early 90s. El Al staff did the pre-check-in security check and they were very thorough.

Linda Adams
10-02-2010, 03:46 PM
I used to fly pretty often in the 1980s and I recall absolutely no screening of passengers or bags. It's entirely possible that I've forgotten walking through one of those old-fashioned metal detectors (that look just like a doorway) but there was nothing at all with wands or anything like that. Nothing like there is today. There was absolutely no real security, no matter what Google is turning up.

I agree. There may have been something very broad--I do remember, there was a point where you couldn't leave once you entered, but there certainly wasn't the messy stuff we have to go through today. It might have depended on the airport. Then, of course, I always left my bag with baggage check and didn't carry anything on. There's nothing worse than having to hurry through three terminals lugging a bag that gets heavier by the minute!

I do know from reading the TSA blog that there's a lot of inconsistency today with how the security is done. One person might sail all the way through with bottles of baby milk without any problem and then hits a screener who throws it away. I wouldn't be at all surprised if screening procedures then were very inconsistently enforced.

LBlankenship
10-02-2010, 04:52 PM
It should be kept in mind, of course, that even in the 80s people were complaining about the declining standards of service in airlines. Yes, you got food but it was a TV dinner at best. You usually had to pay for headphones to hear the movie, since this was before everyone carried headphones. The seats have always been uncomfortable.

PeterL
10-02-2010, 06:00 PM
Oh for the days before paranoia. Make me king and life will be that free and easy again.

mtrenteseau
10-02-2010, 07:19 PM
Memory is a funny thing and we often forget things and substitute our own reality for what really happened. It's possible that I'm doing that here but, truly, there was essentially no security. Anyone could get in and walk right up to the gate to meet people or hug them goodbye.

They restricted the gate area to ticketed passengers after 9/11, but everyone had to go through the metal detectors.

At some point, two Middle Eastern men booked flights for their girlfriends and gave them locked suitcases with bombs to take with them. They were stopped at security. But for years afterward, it became standard practice to ask all passengers if they packed their bags themselves or if anything was given to them by another person to take on the flight.

They still have public address announcements saying to keep track of your bags and no to accept anything from unknown persons to carry on the plane. But as far as I know this has never resulted in another stopped attempt, and the technique never resulted in a successful attempt, so they don't ask everyone anymore.

Noah Body
10-02-2010, 07:30 PM
There were metal detectors and carryon X-ray devices back in the 1980s, both for domestic and international flights in the US.

wittyusernamehere
10-02-2010, 07:37 PM
This sounds a little dorky, but the movie Airplane! (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080339/) came out in 1980. It's real campy, and jokey, but it is also a lot of social commentary about airplane travel and what it was like back around that time.

FWIW I remember people selling plane tickets in the newspaper because the name on the ticket didn't matter. Also, I remember people bitching because nobody dressed in their church clothes to travel anymore.

Qbynewbie
10-02-2010, 07:46 PM
This sounds a little dorky, but the movie Airplane! (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080339/) came out in 1980. It's real campy, and jokey, but it is also a lot of social commentary about airplane travel and what it was like back around that time.

FWIW I remember people selling plane tickets in the newspaper because the name on the ticket didn't matter. Also, I remember people bitching because nobody dressed in their church clothes to travel anymore.

When I knew that I wanted to send someone to visit a client and the trip required a flight, we'd book a flight in the name of the person most likely to go. But we might change our mind at the last minute and just give the ticket to the next person. It was helpful if the name that Tom carried didn't have the name "Susan" on it but other than that it really didn't matter. The loss of this flexibility was one of the changes after 9/11 that annoyed me the most.

Loquacis
10-02-2010, 07:47 PM
Wow, I did NOT expect so many answers! Thanks a lot guys. This is really helpful and informative.

RJK
10-02-2010, 09:51 PM
In 1974, my partner and I were sent to Rochester airport to pick up a Navy deserter. Armed forces police put him on a plane in Atlanta, and We were supposed to meet the prisoner at the gate. The airport security wouldn't allow us through security with our guns even though we were cops. I took my partner's gun, and he met the prisoner at the gate and escorted him back to the other side of security, where I was waiting.

So, yes, there was active security and metal detectors as far back as the early 70's.

backslashbaby
10-02-2010, 10:33 PM
Security was bumped up during the first Gulf War, I remember. Miami had alarms going off left and right about unaccompanied baggage, and back in NC, folks couldn't meet me at the gate already. But that was temporary at the time.

I didn't fly enough to know when else they'd call out stricter measures.

Terie
10-02-2010, 10:46 PM
In the early-to-mid 80s, I had a friend who worked airport security in Southern California, and, yes, you went through a basic metal detector. If it went off, they had to check your pockets and stuff. They also x-rayed bags, and if anything looked wonky, they checked it manually.

For example, one time I was going to meet some friends at the gate when they arrived (yeah, as others have said, you could do that in US airports right up to 9/11). After my purse went through the x-ray machine, the security woman looked through it, then handed it to me. I had no idea what had triggered the manual search, so my friend went through my purse and pulled out a small bottle of cologne. 'On the x-ray machine, this would look like it might be mace, so they had to check it.' (If a detail such as that would help your story, you're welcome to it.)

FennelGiraffe
10-03-2010, 12:09 AM
In the late 1970s I worked for a company where our office was 300 miles from the headquarters. It was quite feasible to take an early morning flight, attend meetings all day, and fly home the same evening. They kept a stack of undated tickets in the office. When we needed to make the trip, we just picked up a ticket and went.

You did have to go through security, but it didn't take any time at all. Other than major holidays, you were fine getting there maybe 30 minutes before your flight. This was a mid-sized airport: urban, but a notch down from the major ones.

I remember an incident from about the same time. I took a neighbor (because she didn't drive) to see off her grandson who had been visiting. She had given the kid a small metal toolbox which he was hand-carrying. We got hung up in security because it was locked and he couldn't find the key. They couldn't let us through until they saw inside, so they finally broke the lock.

It seems to me all they were looking for at that time was guns.

GeorgeK
10-03-2010, 02:01 AM
I'm only slightly darker than an albino at the equator in summer. Perhaps that is why the international airport in Frankfurt didn't even bother to stamp my papers, waving me through while the swarthier guy behind me was probed so vehemently. "Wir sprechen nur Deutch," they insisted as they levelled their M-16's at the guy.


"That's ok, you don't need to stamp my papers", I muttered scampering off to the Madchen carrying 12 liters of bier in each hand...

blackrose602
10-03-2010, 10:45 PM
I was a kid in the '80s, so I'm going off childhood memories primarily for flights from Orlando to Washington, DC or Atlanta. So pretty major hubs. From what I remember, there were the old-fashioned "doorway" metal detectors and an X-ray belt for carry-on items, but they were set up at each branch of gates. So you could go through almost the whole airport without ever seeing security. It was a super-quick process, dump your bags on the belt, walk through the detector still wearing your shoes and drinking your coffee. They could do hand-wanding if you set it off, but usually they'd just have you remove the belt/wallet/whatever set it off and walk through again.

We were asked the standard "Did you pack your own bag? Has it been in your possession the entire time?" set of questions at check-in, again at security and again right before boarding (I think...I know it was three times altogether). The airports I flew through always had the ramps, never the metal staircases. My friends and I lived close to the Orlando airport through the '90s, and we'd just go and hang out at all hours of the day or night. Sometimes we'd shop, sometimes we'd go to a gate and watch planes take off and land, we were never looked at twice even though we were kind of out-there goth/punks. Things weren't standardized between airports, because the only security was local rent-a-cops and private firms. There was no TSA, and each airport made its own rules.

Flying was different too. I don't know if it was every kid or if I was just really lucky, but on every single flight I was always invited (with my parents) to meet the captain during the flight. We'd chat, he'd point out different parts of the instrument panel, and I'd get one of those little "wings" pins.

My dad smokes, and I'm pretty sure he was allowed to do so on domestic flights until around 1990, and international flights later than that. There were smoking and non-smoking sections in my memory, though he says smoking used to be allowed throughout the planes. Sometimes if you're on an older jet you can still find the ashtrays in the arm rests.

Three anecdotes, in case they're at all relevant:

1) I got a last-minute invitation to appear to a Canadian talk show in 1991. I was 15, so my dad went with me. We literally had to fly out the next day, so no time to find my birth certificate or anything. Dad had his civilian DoD government ID. Getting on the plane and into Canada was easy. On the way back, we stopped at the Hard Rock Toronto to buy T-shirts. They opened at 10 a.m., and our flight back left at 11. We got the shirts and booked it in a cab to the airport, arriving just after 10:30. We were stopped at US immigration because I had no ID. Zero. Zilch. Dad showed his government ID and explained that I was his minor daughter. They asked a few questions and let us go. We ran through the airport and got on the plane before final boarding call. Can you imagine getting away with that now? He'd probably be detained on possible kidnapping charges!

2) They started using those doorway metal detectors at major museums and government sites in DC in the late '80s. Before that, it was just a quick bag check. On my next trip, I was a major goth/punk and the only shoes I packed were steel-toed combat boots. I spent the entire two-week trip setting off every metal detector in DC. Never had a bit of trouble, the guard would always look at me, look at the shoes, ask if they were steel toes and let me go.

3) Before 9/11, planes flying into Washington, DC used to buzz the Washington Monument. I can remember coming so close I really thought we'd crash, and the pilot laughing about it on the intercom. I think they restricted that somewhat in the late '90s, but post-9/11 planes aren't even allowed to come from that direction at all. It's restricted airspace.

Hope all that helps a little!

firedrake
10-03-2010, 11:06 PM
Gawd, I'd forgotten about being allowed to smoke!

I was a smoker and I remember that fug of smoke lingering at the back of the cabin like a bad day in Pittsburgh.

Loquacis
10-04-2010, 04:37 AM
Again, thanks guys! This is all really helpful :)

Qbynewbie
10-04-2010, 05:21 AM
Gawd, I'd forgotten about being allowed to smoke!

I was a smoker and I remember that fug of smoke lingering at the back of the cabin like a bad day in Pittsburgh.

I forgotten about smoking on planes, too. More likely, I repressed it. :D I've never been a smoker and it used to be awful if you had to sit in the back of the plane (the smoking section) or even with a few rows of it. Man, that's one way that aviation has changed for the better!

firedrake
10-04-2010, 11:06 AM
I forgotten about smoking on planes, too. More likely, I repressed it. :D I've never been a smoker and it used to be awful if you had to sit in the back of the plane (the smoking section) or even with a few rows of it. Man, that's one way that aviation has changed for the better!

Yeah, even as a smoker, I found it way too smoky in the smoking section, especially after a 22 hour flight :Wha:

I remember, after smoking was banned on planes, having to change planes at Dulles (I think). There was a 'smoking lounge' there...a big room filled with dedicated smokers. Our 2 year old son was with us and there was no way we were taking him in there, so we took turns to grab a quick puff and I remember a woman complementing us on not taking the boy in there.

I can go without a cigarette on a long flight but I do wish there were still places in terminals where you could smoke.

backslashbaby
10-04-2010, 03:22 PM
There's one in the Charlotte airport for certain USAir customers (or maybe you can pay to get in?). Heaven with long flights :) Great coffee, too.

Tsu Dho Nimh
10-11-2010, 03:08 AM
Could someone describe for me how going through airport securities in the 80s was like? Were there metal detectors? How about those wand things the officers use? The conveyors belts? This is for a national flight.

In fact, could you describe the flight experience in general? How was it different than it is today?

Thanks!

I traveled a lot in the mid-1980s and there were metal detectors and some sort of screening of the carry-ons (X-ray?)

However, they were odd in what they banned and allowed. I traveled with a tool kit as my carry-on. They refused to let me take the jackknife with me, but let me travel with a set of wrenches and screwdrivers that I could have used to take the wings off in flight, and especially a really long screwdriver that could have skewered someone through the heart.

************

could you describe the flight experience in general? How was it different than it is today?More leg room, more amenities, fewer fees, smoking was allowed.

Oh ghodz ... the smoking! Being trapped on a cross-country flight, in the supposed non-smoking section that shared air with the rest of the plane. Barf!

DrZoidberg
10-11-2010, 11:00 AM
Rules were flexible. It was more a question of how nice you were and if there was space on the plane.

mtrenteseau
10-11-2010, 10:39 PM
There's one in the Charlotte airport for certain USAir customers (or maybe you can pay to get in?). Heaven with long flights :) Great coffee, too.

You can buy a membership or a day pass for the USAirways Clubs. Delta has Sky Clubs, American has Admiral's Clubs.

I have a platinum American Express so I get free access to Delta, United, and USAirways. USAirways doesn't care which airline I'm flying, but the other two want to see a boarding pass when you come in the door.

Delta has an open bar with premium cocktails, which is very nice when you're at the airport way too early or you've had a disgusting flight and you want to sit down in a comfortable seat for a few minutes while waiting for your bags to come out on the carousel.

Hallen
10-14-2010, 03:24 AM
What security? :D

Seriously, I remember no security. Sure, there were rent-a-cops around most airports but I really don't remember anything like "security" as we use that term today.

You could go to Boston's Logan airport, arrive in a cab at 9:55, run through the airport and be on the 10:00 Shuttle to NYC or DC. Seriously. I'm not kidding.

Yeah, I think the security thing has been handled already.



How was it different than today? Let's see:

1. Large jets on most routes. *** No *** small jets -- they didn't exist back then.

Uh, no. There were many small jets, just most weren't used for commercial. There were definitely tons of small turbo-prop airplanes used for short hops.


2. Most flights were at best half-full. Red-eyes were always really empty. It was always easy to find a row of three empty seats on a red-eye, raise the arms and sleep all the way across the country lying down.
True. It was a feature of regulation. The airlines were required to fly certain routes at certain times no matter the load. This meant that very unprofitable routes were serviced and there were too many iterations of flights even on the profitable routes.


3. Service was cordial, pleasant and meant to be "service". There was nothing emphasized about security at all. Safety was mentioned but the primary purpose of the stewardesses (who were not called flight attendants at the time) was to make the flight pleasant for the passengers. Consequently, most were young, pretty and pleasant.
Mostly true. Even back then, the stewardesses were training for all the in-flight emergencies and on handling stupid passengers. They weren't just pretty women trained to smile.


4. Ticket prices were often higher then, in actual price, than they are now. A cross-country fare that costs $600 today might have cost $800 back then. Figure in the effect of inflation and you can see that air travel, in real dollar terms, was much more expensive back then. That's why they could afford to fly half-empty planes and provide great service.
Mostly true. The airlines were regulated back then so they were forced to fly in ways that was counter to profitability. Therefore, they had to charge much higher prices for flights because they were flying half empty most of the time. And, they had to service places like Pendleton, Oregon which had about 3 passengers per day at the time.


5. Flights were often bad because weather resources were primitive compared to what we have now. It was not unusual to fly through rather rough weather -- weather that would be circumnavigated today.
Meh, partially true. They did have airborne radar even then. The ground based services were not as good and the airplanes didn't fly quite as high as they do now. Higher is generally better for getting out of weather. I think they just didn't care quite as much because there was less competition.


6. Meals were better. In first class, meals were much -- much -- better than they are now. On cross-country flights, it wouldn't be unusual to have Lobster Thermidor or some other "deluxe" meal, followed by a warm dessert with liqueurs and ice cream. Wines, champagnes and drinks flowed in first class. Even in coach, the quality of meals back then was quite a bit better than it is today.
Dude, we are talking about the 80's here, not the 50's. That crap mostly ended before the 70's.


7. People dressed to fly. Men were in suits and women in dresses.
Same as the last answer. The 80's were not the dark ages.


8. Schedules were more often missed. Planes were frequently late taking off and arriving back then.

Yep, mostly true. The airlines tried to make it work with a leaner fleet knowing that they had too many flights on the same routes because of regulation. So, if they had one break, no biggie. Wait for the next half-full flight and go. Also, maintenance has gotten much better and newer planes have all that collective wisdom built into them so they break less often.


That's all I can think of right now. :)

And yeah, the smoking. I remember that quite well. Even in the front, you were gagging on the smoke from the back. Yep, the smoking "zone" was in the back of the plane, usually by the bathrooms so you had to walk through the haze to get to the bathroom. It was a good day when they banned smoking on flights.

jeseymour
10-16-2010, 01:48 AM
For another movie reference see Mel Brooks's "High Anxiety," which came out in 1977 and had a scene set in an airport where Mel Brooks is trying to get a gun on a plane. He sets off the metal detector and kicks up such a fuss that security lets him continue and board the plane. 1977. I'm not commenting on the realism of the character being allowed to carry a gun through security, but on the presence of a metal detector at the airport. There's also the scene from "This is Spinal Tap" (1984) involving a cucumber wrapped in tinfoil setting off the metal detector, which if remember correctly, might have involved wanding.

I flew from Logan to London in 1980, and do remember metal detectors. The Brits were more uptight than they were at Logan (there's a surprise, not.) What I remember most about that trip was when I got back they took my boots and rinsed them in some sort of disinfectant because I had been on a farm. That was customs though, not security.

Hope this helps!

jeseymour
10-16-2010, 01:56 AM
One more aside - I flew on People's Express from Newark to Heathrow in 1984 for $199 round trip. The pound had just crashed and I flew over to go shopping. Wow. On the way back, I missed my flight from Newark to Boston and had to take a later flight, which was during peak hours and more expensive. I didn't have enough money. I was 21 years old, by myself, exhausted, and burst into tears. They called my father, who gave them his credit card number to make up the difference. It was rejected for some unknown reason. They let me on the plane anyway, perhaps just to get rid of me.