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josie's avatar

Do you remember when flying in a commercial airplane was sort of fun and less like riding a Greyhound bus?

Asked by josie (30926points) September 27th, 2010

The first time I ever rode in a commercial airliner (the 70’s) my mom made me wear a tie!!!!
It was an event.
Everybody was polite, nobody spoke above a murmer, the attendants were helpful and generally pretty. People smoked too, but at the time I did not think of it as an issue.
In the same time period, I took a couple of trips on a Greyhound bus. It was pretty awful in contrast to flying. Many people smelled funny, mumbled gibberish and passed gas.
Last week, as I was flying to Chicago, I realized that flying has become pretty much exactly like riding the Greyhound bus used to be.
What happened?

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19 Answers

mrentropy's avatar

I totally agree with you. And they actually served breakfast, lunch, or dinner depending on what time you were flying. With snacks, regardless of how long the flight was.

Trying to make more money has really cut into a lot of things.

Austinlad's avatar

Absolutely! I was 10 when I took my first long flight—from Fort Worth to New York. I wore a little white suit and bow tie, and the pilots let me sit upfront with them for part of the flight. Even years later, I remember that flying was a big deal. People got dressed up. The service and food were great. And not one steward (as they were then called) cursed out any passengers and exited the plane on a slide.

JilltheTooth's avatar

We dressed nicer, had reasonable meals, magazines, and were usually on time. We spent more time in the air than checking in. Our luggage so rarely got lost that it was noteworthy when it happened. Damn, I’m getting old.

Austinlad's avatar

Incidentally… I did advertising for Greyhound for a couple of years and, for research, took trips around the country in them. By then—the ‘80s—it was better than flying.

poisonedantidote's avatar

In all honesty, once im on the aircraft i really could not care less. i do have some complaints about the airport experience, but once on board, all i need is a window and im a happy guy. i have traveled by air quite a bit in my life, and every time, i have only taken my eyes off the window when asked if i want any peanuts or a soda. even if we are over the ocean and there is nothing to see but blue, ill look at it. from take off to landing.

You can have movies, loud children screaming their heads off, and even a drunk maniac or two, i really dont care. once im in the zone i wont even hear them.

Cruiser's avatar

My first commercial flight was with a student exchange to Germany and like @josie pointed out it was a big deal to fly back then, but imagine 60 high schooler’s as a group on a plane and it was every bit of a 10 hour party and yes people were smoking!

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Yes, I remember when flying was special, and no, I don’t know what happened. I never had to dress up in a suit, but I remember wearing a nice sweater to keep warm. Flying was definitely a big deal.

I flew a lot internationally before 9/11, and things were much different then. The food was often good. The service was exponentially better. It was more fun. Everything seemed lighthearted.

Sigh. Now, it appears that every decision by the airlines is made in pursuit of the all mighty dollar and less about the travelling experience of the passengers.

wundayatta's avatar

What happened is that flying became common and regulations on the airline industry were lifted. Competition meant that airlines had to cut costs as much as possible. They cram more people into planes and provide minimal service, unless you pay extra. And still they go out of business, or get acquired.

judochop's avatar

The entire level of service involved with flying now a days makes it feel like a bus stop some times.
I attribute the lack of good customer service and lack of care to the decline of civilization. People put up with it and that is why companies get away with it. Perhaps if the world had more integrity….?

JLeslie's avatar

I remember my fist flight, also in the 70’s. It was on TWA, more civilized than what we observe today, and I had a steak meal on a flight from NY to FL. I agree that part of the reason it has lost it’s sophistication is because it is available more to the masses now. Plus, people are less formal in general now.

I wanted to add that the safest thing to wear is comfortable shoes and clothing made out of natural fibers. If there is an emergency, and God forbid fire, your polyester clothing is going to get hot quick, and if you need to make your way to the emergency slide, high heals are not going to be your friend. So jeans and a long sleeve cotton t with sneakers is not an illogical outfit for flying.

free_fallin's avatar

I love flying. I’ve had very few bad experiences. I’ve shared stories with strangers, heard their awesome stories and have enjoyed almost every flight I’ve ever been on. I do not dress up for my flights; I wear slip-on shoes and comfortable clothes. I bring my blanket and pillow, iPod, netbook, gum and always water. I get my window seat and I settle in for a nice flight. Even my creativity is heightened on an airplane. I’ve written what I consider to be some of my best work on flights.

I have never taken a Greyhound bus so I am unable to compare.

wundayatta's avatar

My first flight was on a little four-seater my friends father had. We buzzed my house. Obviously, there weren’t any amenities.

Haleth's avatar

I wasn’t around for the 70s or anything, but the whole experience of flying has become a lot more crowded and inconvenient. I took greyhound all the time in college, and it is a good comparison. If they were less than 45 minutes late, it was like a freaking miracle. They fill up every last seat, and you always end up sitting next to someone who talks to themself, takes up their own chair and half of yours, smells, or is messily eating some weird smelly food. One time I sat next to a little old lady, and then she started knitting and elbowed me in the side the entire trip. Taking the train is definitely the nicest way to travel these days.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’ve been flying every year since I was a 5yr old sprout and yes, it was the 70’s, my experiences being similar to yours. I used to ride 747’s from LAX to Denver with people that seemed a whole lot more polite and tidy too. People used to dress nicely to get on a plane rather than nowadays when so many show up in sweats and pajamas.

YARNLADY's avatar

Yes, I remember all that, dressing up, finding polite people, everything so neat and clean. I also remember when kids could walk to the shopping center (five and dime) alone with no worries at all, and how mysterious and wild it was in the National Parks we visited when I was a child.

mickrussom's avatar


“I’ve shared stories with strangers”

Oh no, you are one of “those” people.

free_fallin's avatar

@mickrussom I’m one of “those” people who will talk if the person engages me in conversation. I do not start conversations with strangers, though.

Nullo's avatar

I still love flying. Being one of hundreds packed into a metal tube isn’t great, but I can enjoy all of the parts where the plane isn’t acting like a ground-bound conveyance. Walking to the bathroom is indefinably cooler when the actual ground is thirty thousand feet away because of air piled up under you.

It would be neat to experience flying in the 70s. I’ve seen the Pan-Am ads in period National Geographics, and it looks pretty nice.

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