Was air travel in the 1970s really as groovy (and boozy) as we remember? – Road Warrior Voices

11 months ago Comments Off on Was air travel in the 1970s really as groovy (and boozy) as we remember? – Road Warrior Voices

Our multi-stop trip through each decade of the aviation industry is touching down once more in the surprisingly alcohol-fueled 1970s. With the groundbreaking 1930s, the explosive 1940s, the golden 1950s, and the swinging 1960s of the commercial airline industry in our rearview mirrors, let’s revisit the decade that brought us “hostesses in hot pants” and more liquor than we could ever know what to do with. Grab a Southern Airways shot glass and pour yourself a drink. This was what it was like to fly in the 1970s.

An All Nippon Airways (ANA) Boeing 747 is sprayed with water upon its landing from Okinawa to celebrate its final flight as the 747 is retired by Japanese airlines, at Tokyo's Haneda Airport on March 31, 2014. The 747 was first introduced to the country by Japan Airlines (JAL) in 1970 and became a workhorse on both domestic and international routes. At one time Japanese airlines owned more than 120 of them, each capable of carrying over 500 passengers. JAPAN OUT AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESSJIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images

An All Nippon Airways (ANA) Boeing 747 is sprayed with water upon its landing from Okinawa to celebrate its final flight as the 747 is retired by Japanese airlines, at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on March 31, 2014. The 747 was first introduced to the country by Japan Airlines (JAL) in 1970 and became a workhorse on both domestic and international routes. At one time Japanese airlines owned more than 120 of them, each capable of carrying over 500 passengers. JAPAN OUT AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESSJIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images

747s in the 70s: On January 21, 1970, Pan Am flew passengers from New York City to London aboard the very first commercial 747 flight. Spiral staircases connected two decks. Widescreen movies were played in the cabins for more than 500 passengers in some configurations. Airlines suddenly had room to breathe, dream and design their wildest ideas. The 747 brought us many things, but the most important of all was possibility.

The great expense account scheme: Plucky upstart Southwest Airlines was only three years into operations at the turn of the decade, and lacked the infrastructure and scale to compete on price with airlines like Braniff Airways and Texas International, which offered intra-Texas flights from Dallas to Houston for just $13 (About $81 in 2016 when adjusted for inflation). So in one of the industry’s savviest ploys ever, Southwest began pairing its $26 tickets for comparable routes with a full-size bottle of premium alcohol to be taken home by the passenger after the flight. Businessmen traveling on company expense accounts flocked to the pricier fares in order to score a bottle of the good stuff, and Southwest cemented its standing as a serious contender.

Southwest Airlines 1973 stewardess' uniforms consisted in part of leather boots and hot pants. From the book Airline: Identity, Design and Culture by Keith Lovegrove. --- DATE TAKEN: 1973 No Byline Southwest Airlines HO - handout *RESTRICTED USE: Do not use without permission from source* ORG XMIT: PX31085

Southwest Airlines 1973 stewardess’ uniforms consisted in part of leather boots and hot pants. From the book Airline: Identity, Design and Culture by Keith Lovegrove. — DATE TAKEN: 1973 Southwest Airlines 

Popping bottles…in coach: Southern Airways leaned into its southern heritage hard in the 70s, famously billing itself as the “Route of the Aristocrats”. And while it’s hard to imagine an aristocrat booking a travel itinerary with four layovers just to get from one part of Georgia to another, the airline certainly played up one part of Southern society aboard its flights: the free-flowing alcohol. Champagne was served in coach, and passengers were sent home with complimentary shot glasses, of which a new collectible design was released each year. A series of accidents eventually led to the booziest airline’s demise in 1979.

“You can find me in the club…” Don’t think that Southern was the only airline having a blast at 30,000 feet. In the 1970s, the party never stopped. American Airlines removed 60 seats from its Luxury Fleet of 747 jets in order to build a lounge large enough to fit both a piano and a bar that served complimentary cocktails. Continental, on the other hand, equipped its fleet with a flying pub, complete with arcade games and yes, complimentary booze. These celebratory airplane redesigns were largely the result of the industry’s longstanding two-drink limit being struck down, freeing passengers to imbibe to their heart’s — and liver’s — content.

The Age of Airline Deregulation: In the decades following the Airmail Scandal, government regulation — originally put in place to keep airfares fairly priced and individual routes and destinations from being bombarded with competing, empty flights — had begun to go against its original intention. Numerous case studies showed that unregulated airline startups were able to offer fares lower than the protected legacy carriers. So in 1978, President Jimmy Carter dissolved the Civil Aeronautics Board, and subsequently granted airlines both new and old the powers to set their own fares, decide their own route maps, and learn for themselves what the market might bear.

Beginning in October of 1978 Japan Airlines started offering beds Sky Sleeper Service for international passengers. --- DATE TAKEN: 1954 No Byline Japan Airlines HO - handout ORG XMIT: PX18606

Beginning in October of 1978 Japan Airlines started offering beds Sky Sleeper Service for international passengers. — DATE TAKEN: 1954 Japan Airlines 

Two-tiered pricing takes off: Southwest was positively full of marketing tricks in its early years of operation, but this move might take the cake. The airline’s first president, Marion Lamar Muse, offered a reduced rate for relocation flights. Without a lick of advertising, Southwest quietly launched a second-tier ticket price of just $10 on the last flight from Houston to Dallas at the end of the week. The plane, Muse reasoned, had to be in Dallas anyway to kick the following week’s flight schedule off, so they might as well try to make a buck while repositioning the plane. It took just two weeks for the route to go from zero passengers to fully booked, at which point Southwest expanded the second-tier scheme to the final flight of every route each day.

Muse’s two-tier pricing is heralded as one of the single-most important marketing plays in aviation history, and paved the way for the spread in pricing we see across flights occupying the same route at different times today, as well as the cruise industry’s fan-favorite repositioning cruises.

A TWA stewardess models the new uniform with knee-high boots that the airline has introduced in New York City, June 30, 1971. The TWA mini pants will be worn with a safari shirt dress. (AP Photo) ORG XMIT: APHS106 [Via MerlinFTP Drop]

A TWA stewardess models the new uniform with knee-high boots that the airline has introduced in New York City, June 30, 1971. The TWA mini pants will be worn with a safari shirt dress. (AP Photo) 

Fresh cut flowers (and roast beef!): If it could be cut with a sharp blade, chances are it was cut aboard an airplane in the seventies. Pan Am boasted that hot meals were prepared simultaneously in four different galley kitchens aboard each flight — that is, the parts of the meal that weren’t carved to order by the flight attendant in the aisle. Likewise, “vibration-free” innovation meant airlines were able to deck out their cabins and powder rooms — the size of your own at home! — with vases full of fresh-cut flowers.

A seat with a view: Few things are more of a let down in life than scoring a “window seat” aboard a plane that doesn’t actually line up quite right with a window. The average seat pitch — the distance between seats that we commonly refer to as legroom — in the 1970s was 34 inches. This number, as opposed to the 32 or even 28 inches offered by some airlines today, aligned perfectly with the windows of a plane, so that each row was sandwiched exactly between two windows. Airline deregulation may have brought us more competitive prices, but at the cost of seat pitch.

Was air travel in the 1970s really as groovy (and boozy) as we remember? – Road Warrior Voices

Related Posts

Crews work to avoid a ‘travel nightmare’ on Monday morning – WTOP

11 months ago
WASHINGTON — With cold pavement, a long holiday weekend, and an expected icy winter storm, Monday morning could become a travel nightmare. Temperatures have been well below freezing all weekend,... Read More

Zika, gas prices, dollar: AAA says it’s a good time to travel – WLS-TV

11 months ago
Worldwide concerns over the Zika virus, current gas prices and a strong U.S. dollar means now is a great time for Americans to travel, according to AAA. The travel... Read More

Seven ways to travel for free – Christian Science Monitor

11 months ago
As a full-time travel blogger and a full-time traveler, people often say to me, “I want to travel, but I don’t have enough money.” But with online communities and... Read More

Grimmie murder suspect named by police in Orlando

7 months ago
Police in Florida name the man responsible for killing the US singer Christina Grimmie. BBC News – World Read More
Real Time Web Analytics