To all those who wistfully talk about the golden age of travel in the past tense, I’d argue we are in it now.
Someone recently shared the video below with me. It captures what service was like onboard Korean Airlines in the 1980’s.
What do you notice?
Certainly, there appears to be a better dining experience in first and business class. Also, the economy class seats appear more comfortable.
But what is missing?
Business and even first class do not have lie-flat beds. There’s no personal IFE or wi-fi. Ticket prices, when adjusted for inflation, were much higher.
When people reminisce about the golden years of travel, epitomized by the pictures below, I have to wonder why their priorities are in the culinary experience onboard.
For all we complain about how bad travel is today, think about the position we are in now. First and business class passengers enjoy lie-flat beds, something that was never part of travel in the 1970s and 1980s. Seat pitch in economy may be reduced, but we can keep ourselves occupied with seatback screens or streaming entertainment or wireless internet…what an innovation from an overhead movie projector.
And the smoking…don’t forget how bad smoke-filled cabins were.
This idea of surly, angry, aged flight attendants ruling the American skies and dispensing miserable service and horrible food is simply not true. I’d say the complimentary meals of yesteryear were horrible and the new era of buy-on-board options actually offer better meal choices. Service is always hit or miss on U.S. and some European carriers and generally excellent on Asian carriers. That hasn’t changed.
We have regressed in certain ways. With Concorde retried, it is no longer to leave London in the evening and arrive in New York in the afternoon. Chateaubriand and lobster are long gone…unless you “Book the Cook” on Singapore Airlines. But on the whole, I’d say we are in a golden age, perhaps the golden age of commercial air travel.
That’s something I am deeply grateful for this day.