Fellow Oldies – Any Fascinating Travel Stories from Aviation's Golden Age

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Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 61 total)

  • Sami
    Participant

    I had the pleasure in 1972 at the tender age 10 to fly on Pan Am Boeing 747SP from Paris to Bangkok on a section of its round the world route. My Memories of some of the cities we passed through (with some help from my mother God bless her):

    1 – Beirut : An Absolutely beautiful and cosmopolitan city at the time. Beirut airport was a treasure trove of international airlines. I remember the MEA Boeing 720, Sabena, Japan Airlines, East Germany’s Interflug, Hungary’s Malev to name a few. We stayed at a hotel called the Carlton which was overlooking the Mediterranean. The hotel was full of rich Gulf Arabs and Western tourists. I remember the beauty of Lebanese ladies in miniskirts which was the rage back then. The hotel’s swimming pool was teeming with Alitalia air Hostesses flirting with hairy Lebanese men, LOL. Hamra Street in Beirut had a huge number of cafes and restaurants. Had an unforgettable shrimp curry at a café called the Wimpy. My parents took me with them to a nightclub (yes at age 10 but those were different times). It was called the Fontana and no less than 25 belly dancers graced the stage one after the other from 9pm to around 3am.
    It was really an unforgettable experience.

    2 – Tehran: Tehran back then was nothing like the depressing polluted city of today. Beautiful wide boulevards were everywhere. We stayed at the Royal Hilton hotel. The nightclub in that hotel had a Polynesian dance band and a Western singer whose name I cannot recall. We went to the bazaar which had the richest collection of silverware that I have seen till now. What amazed me was the number of let’s call them ladies of the night who lined the most sidewalks every night as we took a walk. I remember seeing a South African Airlines Boeing 747 at Tehran airport and was told that the relations between pre-Mandela South Africa and The Shah’s Iran was quite strong and Iranians were treated as Europeans when visiting South Africa.

    I thought I’d share these memories of two fascinating cities who nowadays, unfortunately, bear little resemblance to their old grandeur.

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    Bjh1234
    Participant

    Not sure if this fits the bill which Sami had in mind but here goes. In the sixties I took my first ever flight travelling to the Caribbean. We departed T3 (no T4 or T5 then) on a BOAC Cunard B707, landing firstly in Bermuda, where, with not a fence or gate in sight, let alone a security guard, we disembarked. The passengers terminating in Bermuda went one way to baggage reclaim, and the rest of us wandered through the tiny terminal across the road and down to the beach. All too soon we were summoned to return, by the ringing of a hand bell, and without an x-ray machine, plastic bag or 100 ml limit, we climbed back on to the aircraft for the second leg to what was then Kingston Palisadoes airport in Jamaica.

    Another interesting feature of a year in the Jamaican bush working as a teacher for VSO (together with Jeremy Corbin – although I don’t remember him), was the weekends. The school had some pupils who lived in and in free time I would drive groups down to Negril and sleep on the beach on the very sand which well heeled tourists now pay a lot of money to sleep on. Other weekends would be spent either driving the school soccer team to amazingly vociferous and partisan matches against other schools or driving to Kingston for supplies eating as I went from roadside stalls. Happy Days!

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    GivingupBA
    Participant

    Sami, I also spent some time in Tehran (and other parts of Iran) in 1972, 1973, 1974, and 1975. I agree – Tehran, and Iran, were vastly different then.

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    JohnnyG
    Participant

    If I may ask a further question (as I didn’t take my first flight until 1974, Dan Air 737 from LHR) what was the quality of catering and service like?

    Also when was smoking stopped on flights, was it a blanket worldwide ban or individual airlines at different times?


    capetonianm
    Participant

    We came back from CPT on LH on 31DEC1994 and I think that was the last date that smoking was allowed.


    GivingupBA
    Participant

    JonnyG said, “Also when was smoking stopped on flights, was it a blanket worldwide ban or individual airlines at different times?”

    It was different airlines at different times. BA kept, for a while, ONE flight to HKG which was still smoking – the others were non-smoking – I remember because my brother, a heavy smoker, used to fly the route (he always chose BA) and always had to book that flight.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflight_smoking


    AMcWhirter
    Participant

    If I may ask a further question (as I didn’t take my first flight until 1974, Dan Air 737 from LHR) what was the quality of catering and service like?[/quote

    JohnnyG – Did Dan Air ever operate the 737 ? Did Dan Air ever fly from LHR ? It may have been a charter (a few used LHR at that time) or it may have been a Dan Air substitution.

    Not easy to answer your original question as IATA controlled its members at that time and, in economy, the trade body dictated what airlines could or could not offer. Hence the famous ‘IATA sandwich.’

    However *some* Asian airlines, in particular Cathay Pacific, SIA, MAS and Thai, were non-IATA members and their catering was more elaborate and free alcoholic were served in economy. Note that Cathay did not arrive in London until 1980 or so.

    Only two classes, first and economy, in 1974. Business class didn’t appear until 1980with Qantas and PE a decade later.

    However KLM introduced a quasi-business class in 1975: Full Fare Facilities.

    Of course domestic flights did not come under IATA control. But in the UK BEA would provide a sandwich of sorts with something more elaborate for first class. (Yes BEA had a domestic first class in those days)


    fatbear
    Participant

    The last flight I was on where smoking was permitted was in 1999 on Air France to Johannesburg. They had put curtains around the area by the toilets to limit the space where people could smoke and keep the smokers out of site. At first I was unaware of this arrangement and assumed that a couple of the passengers had very weak bladders. It was only when I need to go did I understand the situation !


    Poshgirl58
    Participant

    My experiences are predominantly of charter/holiday airlines, as my only business trip was EDI for the day in 2011.

    First flight in 1965, BEA Vanguard BHX to LHR for August Bank Holiday weekend. My late stepfather booked it to “broaden our horizons”. Returning on Monday evening, arrived at LHR from Gloucester Road. Had early dinner, just finished when flight to BHX called. Bussed out to stand, stopped in front of BEA Trident G-ARPP. Still have flight bulletin, which used to be handed round the cabin. In three days, my brother and I had not only experienced our first flight, but first jet one too!

    Parents then decided to try the foreign package holiday on their own. In those days, the men often wore their best suits and the women a smart dress or suit. My mother still has photos of them arriving at Ibiza and Menorca, as their pictures were taken as they disembarked. They were also on one of the first Cyprus Airways flights from BHX and visited Florida flying with National Airlines. Trips into Europe were courtesy of Britannia or Orion Airways (the owner was a customer of my stepfather’s business). I only flew with Orion once, on the 737th B737.

    Highlights from my flights include Air Europe’s clean aircraft and excellent inflight catering. Nothing had to be paid for. Cooked breakfast with no baked beans in sight. Pre-lunch alcoholic drink, wine with meal, liqueurs afterwards. A very enjoyable flight from HER! Flew out to Corfu on British Midland 707. Fine until descending when overhead panels started to drip water. Cabin crew and passengers hastily plugging gaps with paper napkins. Return journey on an Airways International Cymru BAC1-11 with no ovens, so cold food only. Used to non-stop flights, did LHR-ZAG on JAT 727 then ZAG-ZAD on JAT DC9 boarding by rear steps under the tail. One of the last memorable flights was PFO-BHX with Eurocypria. Captain Adrian Akers-Douglas kept us entertained throughout the journey, even offering reassurance as we passed over Kosovo that it was lightning we could see! Still have signed copy of his book about fear of flying. Last heard of as training captain at Airbus Toulouse, though he’s probably retired by now.

    There have been others but not considered worthy of golden age status. Cramped seats, dirty aircraft, rubbish food, charging for everything. And I still haven’t experienced the delights of Ryanair!

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    JohnnyG
    Participant

    AMchWirter

    JohnnyG – Did Dan Air ever operate the 737 ? Did Dan Air ever fly from LHR ? It may have been a charter (a few used LHR at that time) or it may have been a Dan Air substitution.

    Nov 1974, yes it was indeed a charter, Def 737 to Palma


    AMcWhirter
    Participant

    Hello JohnnyG – Thanks for clarifying.

    You are right re the 737. Dan Air used to operate a mixed fleet of aircraft. According to this piece the 737 was included.

    https://www.danairremembered.com/fleet-overview.php


    jjlasne
    Participant

    I flew Laker Airways’ SkyTrain from London-LGW – to Los Angeles-LAX back in January 1981. To get to London, I took the night train from Paris, then across the Channel at night and arrival early morning at Victoria Station. No Eurostar, no chunnel.

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    Bjh1234
    Participant

    Have remembered a couple of other Golden Age thoughts. KLM DC9 AMS – LHR serving a full lunch service and tea or coffee, including taking the drinks orders before taxi and assembling things prior to take off. Still clearing the cabin on finals by throwing things in a black bin bag and sitting down as wheels touched. British Midland operated a Viscount From Gatwick to Belfast in competition with the Trident from Heathrow. A newspaper, pre dinner drinks, dinner, tea or coffee and a further round of drinks passing the Isle of Man was a popular way to travel home – service on the jet from Heathrow was altogether more manic. Syrianair had CC guarding the toilets on 727s – migrant labourers were not allowed to use one of the toilets as it was an alien concept and people were employed at stops to try and clean things up. Never understood how e.g. Row 10 could be smoking allowed and Row 11 could be considered smoke free. Nail biting departures with Channel Airways who packed, if I remember rightly, 139 pax in to a Trident 1E and just made it before the fence.
    Finally Johnny G – catering depended a lot on aircraft type. Flights on such as Autair Heralds were simplistic in the extreme but at the other end of the spectrum, in the days before Business Class, economy was very good and even surpassed some flights I have made in First. Court Line catering was already in place when you unfolded the table in front of you. Never a gastronomic joy.

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    canucklad
    Participant

    Firstly Sami, I’m not going to put myself into the “ Golden Oldies” camp, I’m more in the “Growing old disgracefully” camp .
    Having said that, so, so, so many memories , from when time is a friend that no youngster understands to now , when time isn’t so much a friend but a cherished companion .

    Linking to some other comments , here’s my timeline …….

    My dad worked for CP Air at YVR and serviced Dan Dare flights. The ground crew , including my dad said they’d never ever take their family on aircraft that were so badly in need of care.
    Smoking on board- As a non-smoker, was absolutely fascinated at how KLM’s DC-9’s split smokers to the left and non-smokers to the right of the cabin.

    My first in-flight movie was “Singing in the Rain “ on a CP Jumbo , ironically en-route to the sinny isle of Oahu. That was also my first 747 flight.

    My BOAC log book (sadly now lost) final entry was a short hop in a Trident back to EDI. Me and . My best friend were asked up to the cockpit a, door open the Captain allowed ro listen to the chatter in his headphones. Walking back to our sets , our fellow passengers must have mistaken us for rock stars . Imagine 2 Don Johnson’s without the tan or the glamour !

    Finally, and also logged in the book was my flight back from SYD to YVR via NAN & HNL . Thanks to the IDL managed to celebrate Hogmanay twice . Bringing in the bells of 1977 twice. The 2nd time somewhere over the Sothern Pacific en-route to HNL

    Great thread by the way.

    3 users thanked author for this post.

    GivingupBA
    Participant

    canucklad said, “my flight back from SYD to YVR via NAN & HNL . Thanks to the IDL managed to celebrate Hogmanay twice…”

    Flights crossing the dateline from west to east can be strange. My best effort was in December 2005 when I left Auckland on Sunday on Air Tahiti Nui, and then arrived in Papeete the day before, on Saturday. A bit odd.

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