Monday, October 06, 2008

So I Remember when......

I remember when as a freshman in college, taking my first ever plane flight - private, prop plane, window seat, not exactly elegant, more utilitarian than luxurious - an exciting and memorable flight. (I was a University of Oklahoma cheerleader at the time and along with 5 others, we were being flown to an "away" football game against Notre Dame.) The point for this post's purposes is though - first flight very exciting!

A few years later, not that much later, as a young spouse I was invited along on a husband's business trip, once more a private plane, albeit smaller but more elegantly appointed. I was in my "makin' my own clothes mode" then, and I actually "made up" some gosh awful looking outfit that I thought was appropriate for the wife of a young executive. Oh horrors, when I think of THAT getup! But the point again, the flying was exciting, seductive, just too, too much.

As the years went by, I became accustomed to quite a lot of air travel, some private but mostly commercial flights. Having lived in Hong Kong for several years, many of the flights were between Hong Kong, the States, Europe, and a lot of eastern Asia.

Those were First Class days, with a company picking up the tab. First Class days with big luxurious seats, tray tables set with linen cloths, selections of food served on porcelain dishes, wine and water in real glassware, individual salt and pepper shakers and always a small orchid gracing the setting. Separate yummy dessert plates were offered with an assortment of after dinner drinks. Pillows and blankets were in abundance, current movies, comfortable headsets and leg rests that could be easily raised and lowered. Beautiful, gigantic Pan Am planes circled the globe at all times to all destinations and I was on many of those flights. There were no security lines, no exaggerated limit on creams, lotions, or for that matter even carry-ons - there had yet been no heinous, debilitating terror to have brought about each passenger's wary suspicion towards their fellow passengers. So, I remember when flying was an occasion to be anticipated with eagerness, comfort, a bit of exhilaration.

I have been brought to these early remembrances of the good old days by recent flights from the Western Coast of the US to the Eastern Coast. Yes, I remember when flying was an adventure, relaxing, sort of fun; when travelers dressed in something besides jeans and tee-shirts, when......

I had planned to outline details of my recent flights but mustering up the memory felt like a lot of whiney complaining, so I'm going to leave it up to you to reflect on what your personal experience of flight is these days.....using these words and phrases to perhaps nudge your memory along - "We're offering the $6.00 grey box today. Crackers/cheese, chips, cookies and raisins for only $6.00. No, I'm sorry we don't offer pillows anymore. Magazines? Only the airline magazine. There are no movies on this flight....."

Yes, I remember when flying was an adventure, exhilarating - how 'bout you - are you old enough to remember the good ol' days?


  1. yes, i am old enough to remember those days. i remember my very glamorous older sister strolling off of planes with perfectly appointed children and she herself wrapped in black mink. very glamorous indeed!

    i also remember the first time i wore blue jeans (granted they were "designer") and my mother was appalled that i would travel in such shabby attire.

    now the main focus on travel is having shoes to slip in and out of easily along with no belt and making sure the shirt underneath your heavy sweater looks ok for the near strip search at security!

    ah yes, the friendly skies! :-)

  2. loved your remembrances:) I don't remember the "little girl" that was there to meet us because no doubt I was too self-absorbed:( on the other hand, I do remember more than one "flap" over the appropriateness of jeans, designer or not!


  3. Anonymous7:07 AM

    You know, under any circumstance, these are the memories of the elite. I don't mean the Hollywood type elite, but of those privileged few for whom this kind of travel was a part of everyday life. I too have had some of that experience. Even in my college days I would often fly home on an executive plane. Some family trips were by corporate jets. We arrived for my grandparent's 50th anniversary on a Lockheed Jetstar; everyone else came by car or pickup. I don't recall thinking much about it at the time. The curious thing is that I slipped into the ordinary life of a business traveler crammed into coach without much of a backward look or sense of loss. What I do miss are the days of friendly skies when getting on board was not a trial of patience and sometime humiliation. And I truly resent the treatment of passengers as nothing more than freight to be handled with the least possible care.

  4. My drive to the airport is about two hours. Then I park, check bags and find the appropriate "security" line. Somewhere in that line is where I think, "Gee! If I had chosen to take the car, I would be there in only another 12 (or 18 or 24) hours of driving. Perhaps I should have driven."

    I recently chose to drive the motorcycle to an event in Salt Lake City rather than take the airplane. Considering the time, meals, and lodging, the airplane ticket would have been way cheaper. But, oh, the scenery, the solitude, the time to contemplate, the time to listen to interviews and essays while crossing the wide open spaces of Texas and New Mexico, and the exhilaration of the experience validated my choice for the trip.

    I do remember the good ol' days of flying. My good ol' days didn't include luxury class, but they did include good service. They didn't include waiting for 100 or more other people to cram bags and bags of stuff in and around them. They didn't include trying to cram my medium sized body into a space just large enough for a reasonably sized ten year old girl. They did include fares that made it much cheaper to travel by other modes if you had the time.

    Things are different. Some are better and some are worse.

    "I remember when" can be fun to share if there was some good stuff. Fortunately many of us can enjoy "I remember when" as well as who we are now.


  5. Lucy, Anon, and Geezer - thanks so much for your comments. You all added greatly to my remembrance and current flying activities. We do settle in to what has to be with the security, the lack of civility from fellow passengers and sometimes from crew - it is regrettable that accepting less than good service or good behavior is just how it is.....