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When Flying Was a Thrill

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the back-in-the-day dept.

Transportation 382

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Bob Greene writes that flying, with jammed-to-the-groaning-point cabins and torture-rack legroom; fees for everything from checking your bags to being handed a paltry package of food; and the endless, we'll-X-ray-you-to-within-an-inch-of-your-dignity security lines, is too often such a dreary, joy-sapping slog that it's difficult to remember that it was ever any other way. But back in the 1930s, '40s and '50s — even the 60s, flying was a big deal. When a family went on vacation by air, it was a major life event. 'Traveling by air in those years wasn't like boarding a flying bus, the way it is today,' says Christopher Lynch, author of "When Hollywood Landed at Chicago's Midway Airport," a celebration of the golden years of commercial air travel in the United States. 'People didn't travel in flip-flops. I mean, no offense, Mister, but I don't want to see your toes.' The trains were still king in those years and the airlines wanted to convince people that flying was safe. 'People were afraid to fly,' Lynch says. 'And it was expensive. The airlines had to make people think it was something they should try.' That's where Mike Rotunno came in, photographer-for-hire at Midway Airport in Chicago where cross-country flights in those years had to stop to refuel. His pictures of Hollywood stars as they got off the planes made air travel seem to be glamorous, sophisticated, civilized, and thrilling. 'Think of his photos the next time you're shoehorned into a seat next to a fellow who's dripping the sloppy innards of his carry-on submarine sandwich onto your sleeve,' writes Greene. 'Air travel was once a treasured experience, exciting, exotic, something never to be forgotten. You, too, could travel like Elizabeth Taylor.'"

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Slow-flying news day (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052205)

A crappy puff piece about a boring book consisting of a few hundred pages of rosy-tinted bullshit by some old guy who has nothing better to say than "back in my day, $THING sucked less".

I kindly invite everyone reading this to unsubscribe /. from whichever aggregator they're using, be it an RSS reader or Facebook. I hereby declare this place dead and buried.

Re:Slow-flying news day (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052335)

Slashdot is powered by your submissions. What have you submitted lately? If you don't like what's being submitted, submit something better yourself or go into 'recent' on the right hand side and down vote the crap. Stop whining about something you have control over.

You can still fly this way if you want to (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052207)

Just buy a ticket for business class.

Re:You can still fly this way if you want to (5, Informative)

dintech (998802) | about 2 years ago | (#41052295)

Louis CK - Everythings Amazing & Nobodys Happy [youtube.com]

Flying is the worst one because people come back from flights and they tell you their story. And it's like a horror story. They act like their flight was, like, a cattle car in the '40s in Germany. That's how bad they make it sound.

They're like, "It was the worst day of my life. First of all, we didn't board, for 20 minutes. And then we get on the plane and they made us sit there, on the runway, for 40 minutes. We had to sit there."

Oh really? What happened next?

Did you fly, through the air, incredibly, like a bird? Did you partake in the miracle of human flight, YOU NON-CONTRIBUTING ZERO?

You got to fly.

You're flying!

It's amazing!

Everybody on every plane should just constantly be going, "Oh my God! Wow!"

You're flying.

You're sitting in a chair in the sky. . . .

Re:You can still fly this way if you want to (-1, Offtopic)

Frank Zonnenberg (2680437) | about 2 years ago | (#41052585)

Are You Looking For A Flight Simulator Download Are you a wannabe airline pilot? A wannabe private pilot? Or even a pilot? Are you afraid to go flying but love the thought of it? Do you want to go flying with out spending thousands? Do you want to go flying in your living room? Then a flight simulator download is just the thing you need. Microsoft Flight Simulator will take you anywhere you want in the world and you will feel like you are actually there in command of your very own aircraft. Microsoft Flight Simulator has progressed alot over the years and the graphics have gone from basic to quite amazing to say the least. In this article I am going to tell you a little bit about the game how to get a flight simulator download. Picture this....You are sitting in the right hand seat of a Boeing 737-700 ready for departure. You are lined up on runway 25 and the light rain drops can be heard bouncing gently off the flightdeck window. Air traffic control give you permission to take off and you ease forward on the thrust levers delivering that awesome power. wow!! Isnt that the dream job? Do you want to do this from the comfort of your living room? With graphics that actually make you feel like you are there right in the middle of the action. Flight simulator games are so advanced that there are too many features for me to list but I am going to try my best to list a few of them for you now. The most recent flight sim X has puts you right at the heart of the experience by... 1.Providing dynamic world living with moving aicraft. Wild animals. Vehicles at airports. Air traffic and dynamic atc and many many more 2. Enables you to fly missions that a programmed and ready to go throughout the world including..Airline pilot missions, flying a red bull stunt plane, tutorials and many more 3. Shared skies are a big feature with traffic flying past you and moving alongside you on the ground. You can even connect online and fly with your friends. Are you seeing why a flight simulator download is the thing for you? 4. Fly some 21 state of the art aircraft from an airbus A321 to an Extra 300 s. As you can see from the early days of flight simulator it has progressed greatly. With all flight simulators it is possible to find a flight simulator download. You can download the game and fly from your own home within hours. Flight simulator downloads can also provide you with many different add ons from exact scenery in your own town to exact airline paint colours taxiing past you. The advantage of a flight simulator download is that it can be downloaded right in your own home and you can be in the aircraft within an hour or so. I love these type of games as you get the real thing without actually paying for the real thing if you know what I mean. Maybe its time you gave it a go. http://www.simulationflightgames.com/ [simulation...tgames.com]

Yes, except the cutting edge always becomes normal (4, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | about 2 years ago | (#41052671)

Otherwise we'd all still be staring at a wheel or a flint axe and going "Woooow!" So its rather unfair to blame people for complaining about flying conditions when its a normal part of life no matter how amazing flying is technically.

Re:Yes, except the cutting edge always becomes nor (5, Insightful)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about 2 years ago | (#41052805)

That bit was the build up to the punchline sort of pointing out how the cutting edge always becomes normal. We just put a nuclear power car on Mars and 100 years ago we could hear air and hope for not death. A chair in the sky is amazing and the phone in your pocket makes Kirk's look like a pile of crap.
Adult should take stock and go WOW! Only children can say all your old stuff is shit.

Re:You can still fly this way if you want to (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052337)

Exactly. The only people who flew in the 1930s to the 1960s were the rich. Why are we surprised that they flew in luxury?

The fact the the middle class can fly today only means that the price to fly has dropped dramatically.

Re:You can still fly this way if you want to (1)

SpzToid (869795) | about 2 years ago | (#41052685)

Maybe I am wrong, and I'm too lazy to Search The Net, but I think flying is much safer now too.

Re:You can still fly this way if you want to (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052341)

Just buy a ticket for business class.

You still get groped by the US-STASI department of sexual assaults. And get x-rayed to death.
So no, buying first class or top class tickets doesn't save you. You're still being treated like shit at the airport.

Re:You can still fly this way if you want to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052545)

If you can afford a first-class ticket, you can also afford to look too rich to bother. I'm betting Donald Trump doesn't get groped, and not just because nobody wants to touch that.

Re:You can still fly this way if you want to (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052611)

He doesn't get groped because he flies in private jets. The TSA doesn't screen the filthy rich.

Re:You can still fly this way if you want to (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 years ago | (#41052553)

Its worth noting that one of the biggest changes between then and now is ... deregulation!

Up until 1978, airlines in the US were heavily regulated due to competition issues - routes were controlled, prices were controlled, even the level of service an airline can give was controlled. The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 removed these controls, allowing freer competition between airlines in the US.

What effect did deregulation have? Catastrophic - ticket prices have fallen by 40% since 1978, but at the same time service levels have also fallen dramatically, resulting in todays airlines.

Re:You can still fly this way if you want to (1)

roca (43122) | about 2 years ago | (#41052659)

A 40% reduction in ticket prices in exchange for reduced service is only catastrophic if you're relatively wealthy. For most of the population, it's a vast improvement.

Re:You can still fly this way if you want to (1, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 years ago | (#41052689)

Its not a reduced service, its a dramatic reduction in service levels - the two are not the same, as noted by the abundance of people willing to decry "cattle class".

The reduction in ticket prices have also slashed airline profit margins, to the point where in the past decade all major US airlines have declared bankruptcy at least once - consider that also in the wake of deregulation, the US has lost pretty much half of its major carriers, and the remaining carriers are still struggling to survive...

Hardly sustainable!

Re:You can still fly this way if you want to (4, Insightful)

LurkerXXX (667952) | about 2 years ago | (#41052773)

You know, just because lots of things have happened IN THE LAST 34 YEARS doesn't meane they are all due to deregulation.

You'll find that lots of other big companies have bought up or weeded out most of their competitors in other fields too. Back in the 90's I used to buy Computer Shopper magazine, where there were thousands and thousands of companies building PCs for you to buy. Today almost all those companies are gone. I guess that must be due to some deregulation. That or maybe, just maybe business fields tend to change over time even without deregulation being the cause.

Re:You can still fly this way if you want to (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052835)

... even the level of service an airline can give was controlled.

On this point, you are wrong - and this point is the crux of the entire article. Airlines were NOT regulated on the level of service they could provide - service was the ONLY discriminating factor when prices were controlled. So pre-regulation airlines competed on service. And since they were competing for customers with service, obviously the level of service then is inconceivable today: linens, silverware, individual salt shakers, "wings" for the kiddies, playing cards, cabin tours, adequate legroom. Flying was special.

I should also briefly mention the Convair 990 [wikipedia.org] - for a brief blip, the airplane makers tried to foster competition through aircrarft performance. Powered by derated versions of the same J-79 engine that powered the B-58 Hustler and the F-104 Starfighter, the CV-990 was a hot ship, cruising at Mach 0.90+ (a feat only now business jets are meeting). With its commercial failure, the entire subsonic commercial fleet seems to have settled into acceptance of Mach 0.82 cruise for perpetuity...

Toe bigot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052213)

There are many places in the world where toes are part of the average mundane daily life. There is no need to pick on them.

Re:Toe bigot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052381)

There are many places in the world where toes are part of the average mundane daily life. There is no need to pick on them.

bigotery has nothing to do with it.

Try going to some Opera in flip-flops and see if you're allowed in. Or in some decent restaurant etc... It's all about mutual respect.
You don't go out in the street dressed in your pajamas, so why is it then when I travel I have to be subject to some dude that is dressed like he has come out of the shower ? Flip-flops and all ? It is disgusting.

Re:Toe bigot (2)

adolf (21054) | about 2 years ago | (#41052423)

If you judge me by my appearance, I will judge you for being judgmental.

Re:Toe bigot (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052453)

If you judge me by my appearance, I will judge you for being judgmental.

Yes, but you will be judging me from outside the opera.

Re:Toe bigot (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#41052721)

That's fine, but please don't pick you toes in public.

Just fly emirate (1)

aepervius (535155) | about 2 years ago | (#41052221)

Or fly business / first class, and that from any point on earth except the US. The US is the only country AFAIK which use nude scanner.

Re:Just fly emirate (1)

darkfeline (1890882) | about 2 years ago | (#41052247)

I'm embarrased of this country, but what can I say? We like our nude pictures.

Re:Just fly emirate (2)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about 2 years ago | (#41052309)

This isn't true - just went through scanners in Amsterdam last week. I was flying between Europe and the US - and only went through scanners in Europe.

Re:Just fly emirate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052739)

That's because the 'clearing' is happening at the entry airport, and in some cases transfer airports. (Depending on the QC they assume from the airport you're incoming from.)

Carribean to Puerto Rico to Texas, on a trip back to California I went through scanners twice: Once in the Terminal in the Carrib, and again as part of the 'border inspection' in Puerto Rico (Which due to being a US territory, basically has the same clearance as a stateside airport for inspection purposes.)

Long story short, other than the really quiet transfer hallways between the incoming and outgoing terminals in PR, and the sedate but slightly noisier DFW ones, there was no further checks of me or my baggage all the way home.

Re:Just fly emirate (2)

isorox (205688) | about 2 years ago | (#41052831)

Or fly business / first class, and that from any point on earth except the US. The US is the only country AFAIK which use nude scanner.

What are you on about? They're all over the place. This year alone I've had to tactfully avoid them at 3 U.S airports, half a dozen European airports, Moscow and Erez (and that's not even for a plane!).

mostly because there wasn't room for 3rd class (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#41052229)

Sure, rich people looked rich back in the good old days. Same thing with the ocean liners in 1st class: very upper-class, luxurious, glamorous. But most people who traveled on ocean liners didn't travel in 1st class, so it was hardly the norm. The difference with early planes was that there was basically only a 1st class, due to a lack of room to include a 2nd class or steerage section.

Re:mostly because there wasn't room for 3rd class (1)

Vintermann (400722) | about 2 years ago | (#41052387)

Even more so with LTA flight, which this article fails to mention at all. The fact that there is zero mention of Zeppelins - the real, obvious parallel to ocean liners which first sold the public on the dream of flying - suggests to me that this is a bit of free airlines advertising.

Re:mostly because there wasn't room for 3rd class (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052409)

I think the point of the article is that the airlines today try to go for quantity instead of quality. Hence all the cost reductions in comfort.

It works. However, only to a point. They'll find it hard later on to increase prices back up without increasing comfort by a large margin.

Too bad trains need such an extensive infrastructure, otherwise they would have easily taken up the slack in these past 12 years.

Re:mostly because there wasn't room for 3rd class (2)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#41052825)

They're increasing comfort at the high price point quite significantly as well. Most major airlines have lie-flat seats in international first-class now, which used to be uncommon. Some of them have private first-class suites. Of course, you're going to have to pay a hefty multiple of an economy-class ticket to get that kind of luxury. But then you had to pay a high price if you wanted to fly in 1970, too.

I don't want thrills... (4, Insightful)

isaac (2852) | about 2 years ago | (#41052231)

I want safe, quick transportation from point A to point B at a reasonable price. Modern air travel mostly delivers this. It didn't use to.

Air travel was of dubious safety and blinding expense in the '30s, '40s, '50s - and wasn't particularly comfortable either. I don't wish to return to that era, one bit.

-Isaac

Re:I don't want thrills... (5, Insightful)

ccguy (1116865) | about 2 years ago | (#41052349)

I want safe, quick transportation from point A to point B at a reasonable price.667 Modern air travel mostly delivers this.

Only if your definition of quick only includes time elapsed between take off and landing. Definitely not that fast if you time door to door and include everything.

Also, why isn't a 'medium' class anymore? One would think that any company that provided decent legroom at a reasonable price would make a killing. Seriously, I don't want to pay business fares just so I can have a flight in which I'm not worried about the retard on the front row putting their seat all the way down (at the risk of breaking my knees), but I'd be happy to pay twice the coach fare if I could have the legroom from the seat in front on mine (ie half the rows at twice the price).

A flight from Madrid to New York costs 400 euros in coach, around 3000 in business. Damn, give me something decent for 800! I don't need champagne, I don't need slippers, I don't need a private selection of movies. I just need the legroom.

Re:I don't want thrills... (3, Informative)

drsmithy (35869) | about 2 years ago | (#41052465)

A flight from Madrid to New York costs 400 euros in coach, around 3000 in business. Damn, give me something decent for 800! I don't need champagne, I don't need slippers, I don't need a private selection of movies. I just need the legroom.

Most airlines have a Premium Economy option these days. Expect to pay about twice as much as regular Economy.
It's roughly equivalent in terms of legroom and service as Business Class was ~20 years ago.

Re:I don't want thrills... (2)

pspahn (1175617) | about 2 years ago | (#41052477)

Definitely not that fast if you time door to door and include everything.

Eh? Door to door, flying from Denver to San Francisco, it's about half a day. 2.5 hour flight, an hour and a half on each side for getting to/from the airport, boarding, etc. Toss in some random stops to 7-11 or something and you're looking at spending about 6-8 hours of travel time.

On the other hand, the fastest I have ever done the same driving was approximately 17 hours, which included driving 85+ MPH across most of Nevada/Utah (my digital speedometer only went to 85.. then it just blinked, so idea my actual speeds).

A more realistic amount of time for that drive is a day and a half which includes a proper rest stop and not driving like a crazy 18 year old.

Am I missing something?

Re:I don't want thrills... (4, Insightful)

ccguy (1116865) | about 2 years ago | (#41052487)

Eh? Door to door, flying from Denver to San Francisco, it's about half a day. 2.5 hour flight, an hour and a half on each side for getting to/from the airport, boarding, etc. Toss in some random stops to 7-11 or something and you're looking at spending about 6-8 hours of travel time.

Am I missing something?

Yes, high speed trains, but of course they may not be available in your country or for your desired trip.
When available it's a no brainer. The total time is roughly is same (for distances up to 1000 km), and they go from city center to city center, and they're a lot more comfortable.

Re:I don't want thrills... (1, Interesting)

demonlapin (527802) | about 2 years ago | (#41052711)

High speed rail will not work in the US outside of the Northeast Corridor because nowhere else has the kind of density needed to make it work. 1000 km in the US is a quick trip - the example he gives, Denver to SF, is more than double that. And rail requires a large and expensive infrastructure, one which is going to have to be duplicated (because our existing rail system is optimized for freight hauling, at which task it is one of the most efficient in the world). It's a cool idea, and in some places it makes sense. But not here.

Re:I don't want thrills... (1, Informative)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#41052895)

Seems to work well in Japan over similarly long distances and much more difficult terrain. They initially started building Shinkansen (bullet train lines) in response to demand but then realized that actually if you build it they will come. Rather than just looking for existing demand they partnered with developers and retailers to create new destinations between big cities, or to create business by giving people the opportunity to travel to places that were previously inaccessible due to long travel times or high flight costs.

I know someone who travels from Tokyo to Osaka and back just to visit her preferred dentist. Towns and cities are desperate to get on high speed rail routes, much likes how in the US they want to be on the interstate roads.

Re:I don't want thrills... (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#41052903)

That's simply not true.

There are many serious proposals of high-speed rail lines in other areas of the country where there are cities spaced no more than 100 miles apart, or about an hour by high-speed rail. To get an idea of how fast it would be, take driving times, divide by two, and add 40 minutes to get to and from the train station (which will probably be near the middle of the city). Then compare that with flight times + 1 hour on each end to get to and from the airport.

So, for example, Boston to Chicago, currently a 27 hour trip by rail or road, would become something like 8-9 hours, with stops in Springfield MA, Albany, Syracuse NY, Buffalo, Cleveland, Toledo, and South Bend IN. That's not as fast as the 3 hour flight, but it's a lot closer to competitive, and very competitive if you're going on a shorter segment, say Boston-Buffalo.

Re:I don't want thrills... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052905)

High speed rail will not work in the US outside of the Northeast Corridor because nowhere else has the kind of density needed to make it work.

The killer application for high speed rail in the US may be for extended commutes. From Bremen to Hamburg is 130 km or 80 miles. That's pretty comparable to LA-San Bernardino, LA-Ventura, Chicago-Milwaukee, or New York-New Haven. It's just at the edge of what people are willing to do as a daily commute. Reasonably priced, high speed trains in those markets would dramatically expand the practical commute zone, let people live in more comfortable, open housing, and still access the high-density job market.

Building 600-1200 km of high speed rail is a major undertaking. A big risk on an uncertain market. Building 'commuter' high speed rail is a lower initial investment for a more clearly defined market. A 200 mph train from Ventura to LA would take 20 minutes. Even if you add ~2 minute stops in Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, and Encino, it's worlds faster than the 90 minute drive. "Inter-city" in the US means something very different than it means in Europe, and we shouldn't be tied to the European model for high speed rail economics.

Re:I don't want thrills... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052631)

Definitely not that fast if you time door to door and include everything.

Seriously?

Yes of course it's still faster! What's your alternative?

Driving? Let's say I AVERAGED 70MPH (meaning most of the time I'm breaking the limit)... in 8 hours I can make it 560 miles, and that's a stretch because it assumes no stops for gas, food, etc...

Train? High speed trains average 125MPH--leaving out the fact that you can't always get a high speed train, or that the speeds are greatly affected by weather, etc)... in those 8 hours you're going to go 1000 miles--and I'm not factoring any time for stopping at various stations, or even any time for waiting for the train at the station, etc...

Beyond 500~1000 miles air travel will always be faster than trains or cars.

Re:I don't want thrills... (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 2 years ago | (#41052639)

Only if your definition of quick only includes time elapsed between take off and landing. Definitely not that fast if you time door to door and include everything.

For longer journeys (more than 3 hours), this is still faster than any other means of transport could reliably provide.

Re:I don't want thrills... (1)

geoffaus (623283) | about 2 years ago | (#41052891)

what about premium economy?

Re:I don't want thrills... (0)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 2 years ago | (#41052433)

I want safe quick transportation for free. We should be aiming for social improvements, and getting out of the mindset that everything must be nickel and dimed. Let's think big, figure out how to capture the sun's energy from orbit, and make transportation systems on earth that are literally free to use by all inhabitants.

ROFL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052793)

I want safe, quick transportation from point A to point B at a reasonable price. Modern air travel mostly delivers this.

If there's ever a perfect time to use "ROFL", this is it.

Quick? Even if your flight is perfectly on-time (a miracle), you still spend hours slogging through the hellhole they call an "airport"

Safe? Let's talk about those unregulated X-ray machines. And what about the out-of-control pickpocketing that happens at every major airport?

Reasonable price? You've got to be kidding me. Even if you're lucky enough to get the lowest possible price (another miracle), by the time you're out of the hellhole (airport), they've slammed you with 10 other fees.

Again, I'm not one to use "ROFL" often, but in this case, there is no other suitable response.

Isnt it better now? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052233)

Considering that many people can afford air travel at 2-3 weeks notice, or even at a few days notice and use it on a regular basis? why is it a negative that it has become something commonly used?

Re:Isnt it better now? (5, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about 2 years ago | (#41052353)

Absolutely right. I found out a friend was very sick just a few weeks ago - I bought my ticket on-line for the next day, checked in on-line immediately after and was on a different continent the following evening. I am not wealthy (by developed world standards) and it'll stretch my budget a bit but it was completely doable. I made it home before my friend died and was able to see her and the family.

I found out she was ill via a call on our Vonage phone - no additional cost to my friend calling me.

I have no desire to go back to an earlier time when I probably would not have found out until after she had died and not been able to afford going back - and even if I could it would have taken a lot longer than a day.

It was a tremendously big deal. (4, Interesting)

dtmos (447842) | about 2 years ago | (#41052235)

We would look forward for weeks to a flight, and wear our best clothes. There was no security hassle, and you waited in the departure area for your flight to be called, then walked outside to the gate in the chain-link fence that led to the planes. Somebody pointed out which one was yours, and you went up the stairs and got in. The rest of your friends and family who were there to see you off stayed behind the fence, and waved at you, and watched the door close, the engines start, and your plane taxi away. If it was a reasonably small airport your friends could wait and try to identify your plane as it took off.

Ah, those were the days. (Sniffle.)

Re:It was a tremendously big deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052261)

Thats how you still do it at smaller airports in India
Security is just for the sake of it, you walk out onto the runway and they point you to which of the 3 ATR's (sometimes a 737-900 though) is yours

Re:It was a tremendously big deal. (1)

ccguy (1116865) | about 2 years ago | (#41052377)

We would look forward for weeks to a flight, and wear our best clothes.

Yeah, I remember visiting the deluxe sweatpants section in my local department store the day before flying. Those were the days.

Alternatively (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052257)

"When flying was too expensive for most people and planes were orders of magnitude more dangerous"

Still is for some of us (1)

mdsharpe (1051460) | about 2 years ago | (#41052263)

Maybe it's just me, but I still think of flying as a big deal. I don't go on aeroplanes much, but when I do, I always remember to appreciate it for the marvel it is. I still find the acceleration of takeoff to be pretty exciting as well.

No one could afford it. (1, Insightful)

brillow (917507) | about 2 years ago | (#41052333)

It was also incredibly expensive.

The reasons travel today sucks is because its cheaper and thus more people do it.

Also, what kind of elitist prick wishes people would "dress up" to go on a goddamn airplane? How about I wear whatever I want and you shut up?

We don't need the pretension of fancy clothes in this millennium. By these standards Jobs and Gates are both slobs.

Re:No one could afford it. (1)

Vintermann (400722) | about 2 years ago | (#41052395)

Who wants us to feel special and mushy when walking onto an airplane? Probably someone involved in the airline industry...

Re:No one could afford it. (3, Funny)

ZankerH (1401751) | about 2 years ago | (#41052419)

By these standards Jobs and Gates are both slobs.

Yes, yes they are.
Is it really too much to ask that people dress in a way that makes it possible to estimate their financial standing without direct contact?

Re:No one could afford it. (2)

ccguy (1116865) | about 2 years ago | (#41052515)

Is it really too much to ask that people dress in a way that makes it possible to estimate their financial standing without direct contact?

It works that way already, just not in the way you seem to expect. If there's a meeting with IT people, the guy in the suit is sucking up to the guy in jeans, turtleneck shirt, or whatever. Not the other way around.

Or, if they're consultants working in the same company, the guy in the suit is telling the other guy why he should dress like him even if it's the fucking summer, there's 40 degrees C outside and you need to have the AC wasting lots of energy so that the suit guys are comfortable, at the expense of course of the people who dress appropriately (for the weather at least) sneezing non-stop. The other guy in the meeting is the one who doesn't give a fuck.

Re:No one could afford it. (2)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#41052621)

It is one of those kind of "author reminiscing about flying in a time when he would never have been able to afford to do so" stories.

Re:No one could afford it. (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 2 years ago | (#41052651)

When you're paying as much as flights cost back then, you could afford to be elitist.

Just some unwanted advice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052855)

Also, what kind of elitist prick wishes people would "dress up" to go on a goddamn airplane? How about I wear whatever I want and you shut up?

Yes, indeed. Although, I try not to look as neat as I can: shaved, button down shirt, and no flip-flops. Because when you're traveling, you never know who you will sit next to and it helps if you don't look like a slob - especially when you are trying to get a business of the ground.

When yo hit it big, then you can walk around dressed like a slob. As Felix Dennis says: Later on they can walk around in negligees in the office, when they're hugely successful. [forbes.com]

Aside from looking slobish, flip-flops are damn uncomfortable! I walk fast and those things are dangerous unless you walk slow like you just got out of bed - which is what folks look like when they wear those things.

Wearing a T-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops will not attract many opportunities unless your face has been on the cover of Forbes, Fortune, Inc. and all over the Web.

But if you don't give a shit; it's none of my business.

Shutting up now.

It's pretty thrilling now (1)

Grayhand (2610049) | about 2 years ago | (#41052343)

Having Otto with the big hands and fat wrists checking my prostate for explosives is right up there with the most thrilling experiences of my life. Every time he asks me to grab for my ankles I channel Ned Beatty and go to my happy place. It's still better than flying Jet Blue.

Just watch Pan Am (1)

opus_magnum (1688810) | about 2 years ago | (#41052355)

(the tv series) if you want to see what it was like.

Okay (1)

tadekd (2709271) | about 2 years ago | (#41052359)

Okay, what is it all about?????

You can still fly that way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052361)

It's called first class. The authors should try it. Most people just want no-frills transportation, they don't want to pay for the experience of travel, they just want travel. I think the airlines do very well this day and age offering as cheap of flights as they do. The only real problem with flying nowadays is the TSA.

Re:You can still fly that way (1)

mikael_j (106439) | about 2 years ago | (#41052541)

Except you're full of shit. Most people don't want "no-frills transportation", it's just that the options tend to be "Cattle class: $200", "Business class: $4000" and "First class: You can't afford it".

And a lot of times there simply isn't an option for "premium economy". Sometimes there is but a lot of times, no.

As someone who's 193 cm tall (6'4") I hate flying. There is no leg room to speak of and the seats themselves aren't exactly perfect for someone taller than average either. For me and others who are the least bit taller than average it's not about being a little more comfortable, it's about actually having enough room that we don't have to force ourselves into extremely uncomfortable positions just to be able to sit down (unless I'm lucky enough to grab a seat near an emergency exit most economy/coach/whatever you want to call it class seats have less leg room than the average bus which means I can only sit if I force at least one of my knees into the space in front of a neighboring seat, and even then I'm going to be uncomfortable for the entire flight since I can't really move, I'm forced to sit in the same uncomfortable position in a seat designed for a much shorter person for several hours).

Um, no. (2)

dtmos (447842) | about 2 years ago | (#41052549)

If you think today's US domestic First Class is the same as flying in the 1960s, you need to go back to the 1960s and have another look. Stewardesses called you by your name -- "Mr. Smith, Mrs. Jones." It was a different era -- and not only because one had "stewardesses" instead of "flight attendants."

The last time I had service similar to 1960s US domestic First Class was on the Concorde, and we all know how that turned out. The closest thing now is international First Class on some of the Asian airlines, like Singapore Air and Malaysia Air.

Re:Um, no. (2)

CGordy (1472075) | about 2 years ago | (#41052695)

That level of service is normal on long haul flights, even in business. I have to travel between Australia and Europe regularly, and the attendant always memorises my name, takes my order at the start of the flight and ensures that my drink is topped up until I say stop.

Flying with Qatar it's even possible to make the whole journey without seeing an economy class passenger.

Re:Um, no. (1)

dtmos (447842) | about 2 years ago | (#41052845)

Yeah, I know, having done the same myself, but I was trying to think of the reason it felt much more exclusive to be flying in the 1960s than it does to be flying international First Class today, and I guess I didn't hit it. Maybe it was that in the 1960s there were no class upgrades, so the people in First Class paid for their tickets? Or that fewer people flew, so that First class was a small fraction of a smaller fraction of the population (the rest of which could be seen down below, traveling on the ground)? Or that you were in such luxury, even though you were only flying from Cleveland to Chicago?

Flying with Qatar it's even possible to make the whole journey without seeing an economy class passenger.

That was one of the amusing things about flying the Concorde out of Heathrow: Concorde-only ticketing, Concorde-only security station, Concorde-only gate area -- you made the whole journey without seeing so much as a BA First Class passenger on any other flight. It was like you had your own private airport (which, I suppose, was the intent).

Not all that long ago (4, Interesting)

NetDanzr (619387) | about 2 years ago | (#41052363)

You dont have to look that far into the past. Back in the 1980s, I was flying about once or twice per year between Prague and Lisbon and back. Always used Czechoslovak Airlines. The plane was largely empty, so I got to sit in the front, in facing seats with a table between them. Even when I had to sit in the "regular" class (I hesitate to call it economy, because it was nothing like today's cattle pens), we got a stewardess taking orders for drinks and snacks. And we got linen napkins with the main meal...

Ok, enough nostalgia. I'm now at the stage where speed is secondary to comfort. I want my zeppelins back!

1995 - Sabena (1)

spectrokid (660550) | about 2 years ago | (#41052675)

1995 Sabena from Leeds to Brussels. Tiny little plane, you couldn't really stand up. Plates in real porcelain, glass in real glass, cutlery in steel. Hot food, prepared on board. Some champagne before we even got in the air. A Belgian chocolate served separately as a desert. Now get off my lawn!!

Re:1995 - Sabena (1)

Pete (big-pete) (253496) | about 2 years ago | (#41052869)

Ahh, I remember Sabena, I flew with them on fairly frequent flights from Brussels to UK in 2001, tickets were cheap as dirt, and the plane was almost empty as no-one trusted that the airline would still be in business the next week. I didn't mind one bit (I saved more than enough on my flights, and paid via credit card in case they went bust - if I lost a flight it wouldn't be the end of the world) - on a couple of flights the flight attendants outnumbered the passengers, so there was excellent service.

Of course they did eventually go bust in November 2001, and SN Brussels Airlines rose from the ashes, later becoming Brussels Airlines.

-- Pete.

James bond (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052385)

One of the first times you hear the James Bond theme is when James... gets off a plane and walks out of the airport. That's it.

Damned if he doesn't look like the king of the universe doing it.

Space (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 2 years ago | (#41052397)

I'm not sure about the flip-flops part, but one day, space travel will be pretty much like this.

Re:Space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052415)

I'm not sure about the flip-flops part, but one day, space travel will be pretty much like this.

Space travel ? Ha!

The end game is personal transporter devices.
Go where you want, when you want with no fucking harry/sally using his/her hands to feel over your penis/balls or vagina before the trip.

Unfortunately by that time I'll be long dead.
So today I just travel in trains. Fast and easy, city to city. No bullshit TSA or equivalent to deal with. Of course this is in europe.

Re:Space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052519)

The nice thing about space travel is that it's feasible according to the known laws of physics.

Re:Space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052679)

The nice thing about space travel is that it's feasible according to the known laws of physics.

Space travel perhaps, but I think getting to the nearest galaxy will still take so long that nobody survives it (accelerating to the speed of light in time would generate too much g-force).

you can still have that (1)

kenorland (2691677) | about 2 years ago | (#41052437)

If you're willing to pay as much (in constant dollars) as people paid decades ago, you can fly business or first class, or even hire an air taxi. What you can't do is get 1950's style at 2012 prices. And once something becomes as cheap as air travel has become, people wearing flip-flops will use it. You'll just have to live with it, or pay the price of exclusivity.

formal != thrill (1)

gargletheape (894880) | about 2 years ago | (#41052439)

So let me get this right. Once upon a time, people treated getting into an aeroplane as a formal occasion, wearing suits and ties for a simple transportation event. Whereas we now treat it like any other instance of being out in public: it's fine to wear jeans and a teeshirt in a park or the subway, so it's fine to do the same in a plane. This is an argument for the old days?

And in which demented world is pressuring people to wear leather shoes instead of sandals or flip-flops on an intercontinental flight a "thrill"? Isn't there enough socially required formalwear at work?

Re:formal != thrill (1)

dtmos (447842) | about 2 years ago | (#41052707)

Formal dress was de rigueur because, at the time, it wasn't a "simple transportation event." You were flying, something that only the upper class did, so you dressed as if you were a member of the upper class (or as close as you could get). Once jets came in in the 1950s, you were not only flying, you were part of the "Jet Set [wikipedia.org] "!

Besides, you were being seen by the public, and who wouldn't want to make a good first impression on someone you just met? After all, this was an era when people wore suits and ties to baseball and football games.

I think this sums it up (1)

dnaumov (453672) | about 2 years ago | (#41052459)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r1CZTLk-Gk [youtube.com]

This sums up pretty well the general population's attitude towards both air travel and technology in general.

Re:I think this sums it up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052803)

You forgot to add "... in the USA".

you say flipflops like it's a bad thing (2)

Chewbacon (797801) | about 2 years ago | (#41052497)

I refuse to wear socks or toed shoes outside of work unless absolutely necessary (i.e. mowing lawns, lifting heavy shit). Always have. So when the airport started demanding that I remove my shoes, I smiled and said no problem. I really wanted to say "catch!" as I'm pretty accurate kicking them where I want them to land, but figured TSA wouldn't get the humor in it.

#firstworldproblems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052523)

I'm so sorry that something I would have to save up to for a year is no longer a fun weekend activity for you.

Travelling ruined by flying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052533)

I'm transiting through the US in a couple of days. Originally I only had a 2h 15m stop over, but now I've been bumped onto a later flight because that's not enough time to get through security, check my cargo bag back in (seriously, WTF is that all about?!) and get on the connecting flight.

So now I have a 5h 30m stop over instead. 4h 30m of which will be wondering around an airport because I got through security in record time...

Re:Travelling ruined by flying (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 2 years ago | (#41052581)

You have to go through the customs, and they want you to do that with all you possesions in tow, understandably enough. The checking in of your bags is someone's fantasy. Normally you hand them to a person who puts them on a conveyor belt after you've exited the customs, or you do so yourself. It takes a few seconds at most. International arrivals choke at immigration, usually, and if you're unlucky you may be standing in line for 1h. Customs will be quick once you find your bags, who might be still on the carousel, or may have been pulled off by someone. Once out on the U.S. soil, you may need to go through the security brouhaha to get on the connecting flight, or you may be lucky enough to stay in the secure zone, depending on the airport and where you're coming from.

Those were the days... (1)

ickleberry (864871) | about 2 years ago | (#41052535)

"When sex was safe and flying was dangerous"

the USA needs high speed trains (2, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#41052571)

if the tea party losers would shut up for a moment, you can get DOWNTOWN point A to DOWNTOWN point B in very fast time, faster than a plane taking into consideration the taxi to the two airports of point A and point B, and very luxuriously since the cost of another 5 feet of leg room contributes negligibly to the cost of moving the tons of steel

asia, europe, beyond the idiots in my country who want to live shorter lives and pay more for healthcare insurance so some insurance asshole can make more crony (not capitalist) profit, your high speed trains is what i admire about you the most. rail used to be something amazing in my country. we let it rot

granted, the USA is a lot less sparsely inhabited in the middle, but on the East Coast, and on the West Coast, it's dense enough to warrant high speed rail. hmmm.... and that's not where the tea party losers dominate, there's a chance just yet...

you want to talk about China beating the USA? salivate over this:

http://articles.philly.com/2012-08-19/news/33273369_1_bullet-train-train-crashes-wenzhou [philly.com]

BEIJING - With its sparkling domed skylight, polished granite floor tiles, grand piano, and string of retail outlets such as Timberland and Nautica, the Beijing South Railway Station could compete with the world's finest for modernity and cleanliness.

It was here in December that we boarded China's new high-speed bullet train that whisked us off to Shanghai, more than 800 miles to the south, in just five hours. For efficiency and comfort at a relatively low price ($185 round-trip for second-class seats that were nicer than those on Amtrak's Acela), you can't beat it. Cruising at about 185 m.p.h., the bullet train provides a smooth, quiet ride through China's eastern industrial corridor as it snakes south through four provinces before reaching its terminus at Shanghai's Hongqiao Rail Station. This is like leaving Philadelphia's 30th Street Station at 10 a.m. and arriving in Atlanta by 3 p.m.

tea party morons: please shut up and die and allow the USA to become a modern country. thanks

Re:the USA needs high speed trains (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#41052771)

Ahhh, and you've put together a coalition of friends with land stretching from major city to major city who are willing to have one of these lines fly through their backyard every 40 minutes, 24 hours a day?

Even ignoring the property acquisition cost, these things are expensive. Standard rail is several million dollars per mile, high speed rail is more expensive (debatable on how much more, but we can pretty much guarantee it's not cheaper).

The US has a fantastic train system, it's just not economical to move humans on it. I would push for autonomous cars at this point.

Re:the USA needs high speed trains (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#41052815)

eminent domain has it's place. the community good is a valid concept for condemning private property

that it gets abused due to the relationship between corporations and government in this country should not mean that other countries get high speed rail while Americans get to sit in grid lock or cattle car airplanes

look, this shit is evil:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelo_v._City_of_New_London [wikipedia.org]

so is China herding poor people to open train lines

but Europe can do it fairly

i don't want to hear about eminent domain evils, i know about them. i want some assholes to admit that the community good is a valid concept and eminent domain does have it's rightful LIMITED place, such as high speed rail lines

Attention Kmart Shopper (3, Insightful)

jamesl (106902) | about 2 years ago | (#41052579)

You too, could travel like Elizabeth Taylor.

If you had Elizabeth Taylor's money. Today, if you have Elizabeth Taylor's money, you charter a jet.

That is the cost of discount travel (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 2 years ago | (#41052603)

Pretty well nobody is willing to pay for better seats on the plane. Everyone wants to pay as little as possible because air travel stretches the budget of most people quite a bit, even when they get less expensive fares. To save money we have accepted less legroom, less customer service, less respect, more delay, etc. I've paid fees to check bags, I've been on planes where the bathroom is so tiny I could barely stand up. I've been on planes so small - on major carriers - that my carry-on bag had to be gate checked because it wouldn't fit in the bins.

These are the costs we agree to when we pay less for airfare.

Who gives a crap if you want to see my toes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052713)

I don't want to see your ugly face and disgusting hands either. Doesn't mean I get to be a dick about it.
Wearing shoes when there is no need for them, is like wearing gloves when there's no need for them. You're fucked-up if you do it.
The only cases where you need shoes, is when it is too hot/cold, (>30-35C or <10-15C ground temperature) or there is a hazard, like a risk of injury or infection/poisoning. And in a normal place where humans live, that is rarely ever the case. (Arizona doesn't count as a place where humans should live. Neither does the nasty toxic dump some call their home town. ;))
So how about you getting rid of your delusions instead?

(And: Yeah, if they don't keep their feet well-groomed/clean/nice, they should not be allowed to even leave their house [except to buy stuff to do that].)

Do you want thrill or confort ? (1)

GuB-42 (2483988) | about 2 years ago | (#41052715)

If you miss the high class, comfortable way of flying, just go first class. It won't change the fact that flying is now mainstream but at least the on-board service won't be that of a "flying bus".
If you miss the thrill of early flying try to make a trip in a small aircraft like a cessna. Not very comfortable but it is certainly a thrill. No airport security, no luggage check, it's just you and the pilot.

You don't want to see my toes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052749)

"No offense, miss, but I don't want to see your hair. Please wear a veil." To be fair, for some people only a burqa will do. But is it my right to subject people to my quirky aversions when I could just look away?

All driven by price, duh (3, Interesting)

argStyopa (232550) | about 2 years ago | (#41052751)

When it costs the same as bus fare, the experience is much like, well, a bus.

The fact was that air travel used to be extraordinarily expensive. IIRC a Washington-Cleveland ticket was around $100 in the new, cheap "coach" class...which is like $900 today.

Now I can get that flight for $100 2012 dollars.

I guess my comment to the writer is that if he wants to travel comfortably, then he needs to pay for first class flights which have surprisingly not changed much over time (aside from inflation). Of course, most people think those are stupid expensive.

I'll settle for pre-TSA days (5, Insightful)

bradley13 (1118935) | about 2 years ago | (#41052779)

I'll settle for days not so far in the past. I used to fly out of Dallas Love Field, which is a fairly small airport. Park you car, walk to the check-in counter, walk to the gate, get on the plane. Somewhere in there you walked through a metal detector. Total elapsed time: 30 minutes.

Now, in the US with TSA security theater, you have to allow 90 minutes. An entire extra hour, times 600,000,000 flights per year: TSA costs the equivalent of more than 1000 lifetimes of time each and every year. Add to that the monetary and social costs of paying an army of morons to humiliate everyone, and you can only shake your head in disgust...

I want to go back to simple security measures, run by the airlines, who presumably have some interest in (a) efficiency and (b) customer service.

Oh, The Stewardesses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052811)

Prices were high because they were regulated by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), which Jimmy Carter killed (with the help of Congress) in 1978. Airlines competed on the level of service they provided instead of on prices. One form this competition took was in the aesthetic qualities of their stewardesses. Betty Draper on "Mad Men" in its first season was typical of what 1960s era stewardess looked like, basically a Hollywood actress who liked to fly. Each airline was "cast" differently. Most notably, American Airlines seemed to have a C-cup or better requirement for its stews. Other airlines were blondes only. Pilots were also cast based on their looks to instill confidence in the passengers. A pilot who looked like Don Knotts just won't hack it.

Plagiarism is a bit too strong (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 2 years ago | (#41052819)

Not exactly plagiarism, but Patton Oswalt already did a chunk on this a few years ago.

Flying is still a thrill (1)

gelfling (6534) | about 2 years ago | (#41052841)

If your plane isn't cancelled or you're not bumped or it gets to where it's supposed to less than 5 hrs late, it's amazing.

SEe the movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41052909)

For a glimpse of flying when it was fun check out the John Wayne movie "The High and the Mighty".

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