I recently came across an advertisement for a company that sells an authentic “Pan Am experience” to anybody interested in flying the friendlier, 1960s-era skies. For a mere $297, you can board a perfectly recreated Pan Am 747 jumbo jet complete with spiral staircase, upper deck dining room, and stewardesses dressed in authentic uniforms. Think short skirts, pillbox hats and white gloves.
Sign me up!
Granted, you don’t actually leave the ground, but this is Hollywood, after all. Once you’re handed your first cocktail, it won’t even matter that you never exit the tarmac. Or more accurately, an unassuming warehouse somewhere in L.A. It’s all about illusion, baby.
Air Hollywood has gone to great lengths to recreate the experience. When you check in, you receive a classic 1970s-style boarding pass and ticket jacket and are handed a glass of champagne while Frank Sinatra plays over the intercom. After the in-flight safety demonstration (let me guess – seat cushions may be used as flotation devices), you are served a four-course meal that includes foods such as shrimp cocktail, hand-carved Chateaubriand or roasted chicken with peppercorn sauce. Then you’ll enjoy a period movie while relaxing with a cocktail before “landing.”
I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a pretty fun way to spend an evening! Almost makes me want to plan a trip to Southern California just to do it.
Too bad I hate California.
But boy, does it illustrate how much air travel has changed over the years. All the fun is gone. Stewardesses are now “flight attendants,” and you can’t slap them on the ass or call them “honey” (at least not without serious repercussions). People are crammed together like sardines, and you’re lucky to get a tiny bag of pretzels. Hell, just getting on board the plane involves removing your shoes, tossing your three-ounce tube of toothpaste that might be harboring a bomb (how?!) into the trash, and submitting to a full-body X-ray in which the screener is likely to see more intimate parts of your body than your own spouse. I may never have gotten to experience the golden age of air travel, but I miss it anyway.
Maybe I’m just glorifying things. Flights were expensive and you had fewer choices back then. And the cabin was filled with the acrid haze of cigarette smoke. But you also had this…
What do you think? Do you miss the golden age of airline travel, or are you content with today’s no-frills flights? Would you sign up for the Pan Am Experience?