Travel Journal

The Jet Age

Today you can log on to and book a trip anywhere in the world within minutes. The possibilities are endless. Airplanes carry more passengers to more destinations and require less preparation that than ever before.  Crisscrossing the skies, airplanes make the world seem smaller by allowing one to be on the beaches of Bora Bora or the banks of the Mediterranean in a matter of hours.  Recalling the glory days of travel, trains were not the only method of luxury travel. Air travel in the 1950s was for the high society - those seeking the jet-setting allure of glamour. 

Talk about living the dream!

As competition was high, airlines delivered exemplary customer service beginning at the airport prior to take off.  Couples strolled into the airport holding hands and handed over high-end luggage and bags to friendly, courteous ticket agents who called you by your last name – “Have a great flight Mr. Page.”.  Airport lobbies were not cramped and bursting of grumbling passengers wearing tacky clothes like Juicy sweatpants / pajama jeans, but were instead full of excited passengers donned in their Sunday’s best. Men sported custom-fitted suits and top hats and women strutted around the gate in gloves toting upscale handbags. Impatient or frustrated passengers were virtually nonexistent as passengers dinned on upscale cuisine while waiting to board flights; there really was no reason for a customer to complain as the airline carriers attempted to exceed every expectation. It was like Singapore Airlines but even better. Passengers traveling alone struck up conversations with others in the lobby as electronic addictions like iPhone and Blackberrydid not exist. 

As passengers boarded and settled in for the journey, friendly hostesses offered newspapers and drinks to add to the enjoyment. Because it was expensive to fly, and competition among airlines was high, there were no additional costs once on board. Passengers could order beverages or snacks without the need to have a credit card in hand. Once airborne, flights during the jet age were full of enjoyment as passenger could easily strike up a game of chess with neighbors and children gleefully played puzzles in booth style seating. Dining onboard, while soaring 20,000 feet, was a welcome with delight and often as posh as dining at a five star restaurant. Services consisted of three meals with white, cloth napkins draping the tray table along glass salt and peppershakers standard for each passengers. Dining carts rolled out of the jet’s galley area with opulence carrying roast, steak, steamed vegetables and hot rolls just as one would expect from today’s Zagat rated restaurants. Wine and spirits for drinks were offered frequently and freely. The service and quality put today’s ‘first class’ cabins to shame.

Japan Airlines in the 1950s. That Kimono is sweet!

Although today’s air travel is packed with speed, and destination choices,  it may help, not harm us to take a step back and remember why the glamour days of the jet age were filled with satisfied passengers and airline employees. The glamour and experience at the airport and onboard flight experience were just as elaborate as the vacation destination itself. So what do you think? Would you pay more for that high-class experience?