Sitting in the United Lounge at Atlanta airport I came across this picture, of a United Boeing 377 Stratocruiser.
I didn't know what it was, had to Google (yay, visual search), but it struck a chord. All those years ago, maybe 60 or so, that plane existed, and flew, and was full of passengers; maybe on their way back to LA from a business meeting in Atlanta.
They would have been dressed differently - nicer no doubt - and would have been thinking differently about different things. Probably carrying books and newspapers. Not planning to watch a movie. Nor blogging while high :)
They would have been chauffeured to the airport and been dropped off at the entrance, porters would have taken their luggage, they would have presented paper tickets, and they would not have suffered needless security theater with long lines and luggage scanners and taking your shoes off. No taking your laptop out of its bag :)
The food would have been better, for sure! The service too. And the flight would have taken longer; Stratocruisers cruised at 350mph, vs 550mph for the jets of today. "It could carry up to 100 passengers on the main deck plus 14 in the lower deck lounge; typical seating was for 63 or 84 passengers or 28 berthed and five seated passengers." The whole experience would have felt more special.
Google tells me the average price of an airplane ticket in 1963 was $41, which equals $323 in today's money. I would gladly pay that amount for that experience. (Maybe with generative AI, soon I will be able! - I predict some of the first uses of a 'holodeck' will be time travel into the past...) Travel+Leisure tells us what flights used to cost in the 'golden age' of air travel. And they summarize: "Security risks are greater and security lines are longer. People don't wear their best suits to fly anymore. Deregulated, democratized, affordable air travel is very different from the glamorous air travel of those far-gone days, but at least more of us get the pleasure of complaining about it."