Have five minutes for some time travel?
Oh, the Good Old Days
Far be it from me to knock a good thing, but this video of 1950s service on a Lufthansa flight doesn’t fill me with longing for a lost era of glamour. Honestly, flying today is better than it ever was. Here’s why.
I’m all in favor of comfortable seating, excellent service, and a nice meal on board (and Lufthansa still provides loads of that), but this video actually makes me think of everything that was wrong about the early days of aviation.
It’s not just that the charming couple lights up their cigarettes or that there are no overhead bins to protect the passengers from items tumbling down upon them during turbulence. Admittedly, all they show up there are pillows and blankets—no carry-on luggage. Those inflight beds don’t seem very secure. I don’t think anyone fastened a seatbelt around that sleeping little girl, which is a worry with turbulence.
But all that and more shatters any nostalgia for the so-called “Golden Age” of travel.
A lot has changed in the sixty-plus years since this video was made, and thank goodness.
We’ve lost a few things, but we’ve gained a lot.
Air travel safety, for one, has improved significantly since the 50s. Just ask the seating manufacturers who have to meet more stringent 16G testing requirements and the many additional certification requirements introduced and improved upon during the decades that have elapsed between the filming of this video and today.
Beyond the issuing of in-flight magazines and newspapers shown at the beginning of this quaint 50s flight and the company of their freakishly happy fellow travelers, what do these passengers have to entertain themselves?
There was no in-flight movie featured in this 1950s video. I remember watching the movie projection in the 70s in-flight, listening to audio with air headphones, and that wasn’t much to write home about either. In-flight Entertainment, as we know it today, didn’t start until 1988 when Airvision introduced the world’s first in-seat video system, using 2.7-inch LCD displays, on a Northwest B747. Fast forward to today, and we’re enjoying a massive catalog of entertainment content on large, crisp, and colorful 4K screens.
In-flight meals have kept up with the times, with airlines vying to recruit world-class chefs to plan their menus.
Plus, more people can afford to fly.
But to me, the most important difference is the democratization of air travel. It is no longer an exclusive privilege of the rich.
Passengers may fly with fewer frills but also for far less than they ever could. This is true not only of Low-Cost Carriers but throughout our industry.
For those who want something special and are willing to pay for it, many great new programs are being introduced to provide a luxurious experience at 30,000 feet. There are too many, in fact, for me to list them in this brief post, but you can follow FlightChic for everything I find that proves that the aviation industry continues to innovate and improve.
Come back to the future—that is, today.
From the trends I see as I follow the industry in all areas of design and development, the passenger experience is bound to improve. Even the most frugal of Low-Cost Carriers are taking strides to improve service.
I say you can keep your 1950s flight. It’s the sustainable 2050 flight that I’m looking forward to. (Yes, I intend to be around for that. A girl can dream.)