Top 10 Things We Miss About the Good Old Days of Air Travel

I was just reading an article called “Wear wristwatch? Use e-mail? Not for Class of ’14” – it’s about the latest Beloit College Mindset List and it made me feel a little…well, old (shocking, I know).

It’s all about the Class of ’14 – the students entering college this fall – and their take on popular culture and more.

No Watches? How About No Wheels?

For example, according to the story, “Few incoming freshmen know how to write in cursive or have ever worn a wristwatch.”

This made me think of changes in the airline industry, the good and the bad. Like, remember when bags didn’t have wheels? I do, and the memory still makes my arms ache. How about smoking on a plane, anywhere you wanted (or, for non-smokers, everywhere you didn’t want it)? Remember when flying was for the elite? (It was for the “elite” because prices were relatively high.)

I decided to focus on the good old days, and quickly rattled ten examples off the top of my head. I bet you’ve got more and we would love to hear about them, so feel free to add to this list.


Free Baggage, Easier Airport Security, and Other Things We Miss Most about Air Travel

1. Remember “stewardesses” – sometimes attired in hot pants? I’m talking to you, Southwest!

(The audio in the video above isn’t the greatest, but what the scantily-clad young lady says is, “Remember what it was like before Southwest Airlines? You didn’t have hostesses in hot pants.” No, you sure didn’t.)

2. Remember when you could arrive at the gate at 7:59am for an 8am flight?

3. Remember when airport security meant no security lines? Or if you’re a real old timer, remember the days before airport metal detectors?

4. Remember how often you could plan on stretching out on those three middle seats for a comfy nap, because there were always plenty of empty seats?

5. Remember when you missed your flight, or you got to the airport early – and it was no problem? All you had to do was find another airline going your way, board the flight, and hand the flight attendant your ticket for the other carrier (I did this in the early 80’s many, many times).

Find a Good Deal on a Flight Now (But Don’t Expect Hot Pants)

6. Remember when passengers dressed up and didn’t get crazy drunk on planes (like the seatmates from hell)?

7. Remember when flight attendants didn’t go nuts on a plane (yes, allegedly)?

8. Remember when food was free in coach? Sure, we made jokes about it, but – hey, it was free food!

9. Remember when passengers and cabin crews smiled at one another instead of snarling at each other?

The Saddest Airline Story of All

10. Remember free bags?

Plus, no change fees, no phone reservation fees, free food, and on and on and on? Take a look at our airline fee chart for all the grim details.


Updated: November 16, 2015