Friday, October 10, 2008

friday flashback--when flying was fun

Oh, for the days of flying in the Age of Mad Men. Fifty years ago this month, Pan Am inaugurated transatlantic jet service with a Boeing 707 they named the Clipper America. Here's a video that introduced the former comforts of air travel, which included " living room quiet and relaxation" and stewardesses lighting your cigarettes for you.

For years, the friendly skies were the domain of businessmen and well-heeled families who could ante up for a first class vacation. Tickets were pricey and there was no point shopping around; airfares were controlled by regulation. The only way for airlines to compete was to provide the best service. Which meant free food and drink, no matter how short the flight was. And I'm not talking snack paks and half-cans of soda. There were three-course meals on fine china and linen and omelettes made from real eggs in the galley. Routine flights included roses for female passengers and stick-pin "wings" for their children which would be presented in a little pre-flight welcome ceremony. Of course, everyone would be dressed to the nines, as befitted the occasion; only after boarding would women remove their white gloves.

Speaking of wardrobe, I can't help remembering that outrageously sexist spot created in the late 60s by Mary Wells for Braniff Airlines. To convince businessmen to fly Braniff, she hired Emilio Pucci to design a new uniform for its stewardesses. He created a layered look that could be changed during flight. She called it The Air Strip. No doubt filling fleets of planes with Don Drapers and Pete Campbells.


Anonymous said...

Incredible. I would have sworn Mary Quant, but I guess it was all pretty much the same back then. A far cry from my first flight on People's Express (the stewardess took my $19 fair on the runway). Fly Me, indeed.

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

@Auntie Christ People's Express! Thanks. Haven't thought of them in years. Their $19 fares were the reason why, as a college student, I was able to make it home for Thanksgivings.