Air Travel in the 1970s: For Your Comfort, Please Unfasten Your Seatbelts and Remain Unseated

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Sweet Jesus, when do we board? As horrid as flying is today, keep in mind that most of the luxury you see above was born of the early-’70s recession: airlines had to go all out to convince would-be customers to buy a plane ticket. (Almost all of these photos are of coach class. I left out the in-flight piano bar.) As flying became more affordable—mainly through the proliferation of credit cards—the amenities and leg room began to shrink.

That’s not to say corporate greed is not to blame. Airline executives have used post-9/11 security measures, many of which are certainly necessary, as cover to make air travel less comfortable while making bigger profits than ever before.

Also, to quote Henry J. Stern, the New York City Parks Commissioner in 1996, after he was pressured to remove “dangerous” monkey bars from neighborhood playgrounds: “In today’s litigious world, the children come to the playground with parents and the parents come with lawyers… Often, the parents are lawyers.” Hence the general shift from comfort—and fun—to “safety”.

(Images via Messy Nessy Chic, Travel Start, Sploid, and Vintage Everyday)

6 Responses to “Air Travel in the 1970s: For Your Comfort, Please Unfasten Your Seatbelts and Remain Unseated”

  1. 1 2W2N November 13, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    Will add more to this in a bit. Got some reminders about deregulation.

  2. 2 BJB November 13, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    That must be super fun during turbulence! However it is interesting how much more open the plane appears without the overhead compartments.

  3. 4 narvo November 14, 2015 at 12:32 am

    What the heck! COACH?? Really?

    Back in the early ’80s I remember seeing some article somewhere about how nice it is in the forward “hump” section of the 747 Jumbo Jets. They showed some pictures similar to the ones here; basically some kinda lounge getup that’s all nice. But they were selling it as one of the perks of flying 1st Class. So I always dreamt of one day getting access to that “hump”…sigh.

    Anyways, those pics are too awesome for words. Geez.

  4. 5 polarbroncofan December 8, 2020 at 2:01 am

    Thankfully I am of an age where I got to fly aboard a lot of the airplanes pictured above – including in First Class. The service was superb and of course back then most people were on their best behavior while flying. Travel was more of an event back then, one worthy of dressing up a bit for. These days flying anywhere in America holds no more cachet than going down to the corner store for a quart of milk. Even the service in coach was much nicer than what passes for “First Class” today. Those were great days to fly!

  1. 1 Christmas Morning, Circa 1972: Barbie’s Friend Ship | 2 Warps to Neptune Trackback on December 15, 2015 at 6:41 pm

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