Has flying lost its magic? See how a new Golden Age of travel can be yours.
The glory days of the golden age of flying have been much glamourised in a number of films and TV shows – with the likes of Mad Men to the short-lived Pan Am showing the allure and excitement that travelling in the 50s and 60s held.
Back then a flight was a special occasion, one that saw men donning a tie and jacket and women dressing as if there was a cocktail party to be had on board. And in some ways there was. Apart from the beautifully turned out stewards and stewardesses (it’s amazing to think that many commercial airlines imposed draconian weight restrictions to make sure uniforms were worn as if the aisles were catwalks), there was certainly no shortage of booze flowing from trolleys passing through cabins with so much space there would be room enough to saunter about as if on the ground.
Compare this with long queues, jostling for unassigned seats and a laminated menu offering the delights of overpriced crisps and reheated pizza slices and you can see why it is easy to reminisce. However, the truth is that today people expect to get from A to B quickly and cheaply, and the result is not always the most pleasant of experiences.
For the best of both worlds nothing can compare to flying private. The problem with reminiscing about the good old days is that much is often forgotten. True, there was ample legroom, and dining options that could have been taken from the menus of that good old stalwart Simpson’s in the Strand, but there were downsides too that today are easily overcome.
There is of course the lack of entertainment, which on flights in the 50s and 60s that could take days to complete with numerous stop-offs was a serious concern. No movies, no music, no wifi. Imagine that. All you had back then was the view out to the clouds and the drinks trolley to keep you entertained, which does explain why it was not unusual to see passengers disembarking worse for wear at their end destination. There was also the noise, with planes lacking today’s technology and pumping out noise at decibel levels that could leave ears ringing. And don’t even think about cutting timings fine – true security was not a patch on today’s commercial airport terminals, but even then if you were running late and missed your flight, your next often wouldn’t be later that day, but rather later that week, if you were lucky.
Today when flying private, you too can speed through check-in, be greeted by your favourite tipple and have a hand in personally selecting your menu, from an indulgent guilty pleasure snack to Michelin-star quality plates. With a choice of jets, from the smallest propeller plane to a capacious BBJ (and everything in between), choose exactly how much space you’ll need, with interiors as plush as a hotel suite. Sit back and relax, recline and snooze in comfort, catch up on work, watch a classic film or stream your favourite show on Netflix. And if you need your furry friend by your side or if you cannot wait till landing to smoke your finest Cuban that’s not a problem either – there’ll be a jet option to suit your exact needs.
With timetables a thing of the past (both the golden age’s more scant schedules and today’s fuller but often unreliable ones) choose exactly when you need to fly – and if you’re running late, the plane will wait. Not words often heard at airports across the globe.
With competitive pricing often on a par with what your parents would have had to fork out for a traditional commercial flight 50 years ago there is no better time, and no better way, to recreate the golden age of travel. With the downsides of timings, noise and the now unimaginable lack of entertainment more than taken care of try flying private and travel the way those Mad Men would have loved to.
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