|Me and some female passengers in a L-1011 Coach Lounge-Circa 1973|
My wife and I recently saw Warren Beatty's new movie about Howard Hughes "Rules Don't Apply" We really enjoyed the movie and I loved the scenes of old Hollywood. It brought back a lot of memories of my time at TWA especially when I was based in Los Angeles. I never personally met Howard Hughes. I started at TWA in 1964 and he had sold his interest in the company by 1961. Actually, very few people ever met Howard including his closest business manager Robert Maheu (played by Alec Baldwin in the movie). I had the real Robert Maheu's wife Yvette on a flight one time from New York to Paris. I was taking a break in the first class lounge and I overhead a top executive with U.S. Steel ask her if her husband had ever met Howard. You could have heard a pin drop, the air up there got so dense I thought the whole damn plane was going down. (Needless to say she didn't answer, this was a sore subject). Howard's eccentric ways and legacy lived on in TWA for years. A good friend of mine was a gate agent at San Francisco and one day Howard comes in with a couple buddies and just takes a Convair 880 to go fishing in Alaska, leaving him to have to explain to some 75 passengers why their flight had just been canceled. That would be like Richard Branson coming into SFO today and taking an Airbus A320. (Don't think that's ever gonna happen).
But enought about Howard. Watching the movie I couldn't help but think the old glory days of aviation are long gone, and how lucky I was to have experienced them first hand. This was a time before TSA, the internet, and cell phones live recording your every move. Back then we were hand writing boarding passes, seats had plenty of legroom with an actual lounge in coach, and passengers were given a complimentary mini pack of cigarettes on their meal trays. Above you will see me with some lady passengers in a L-1011 coach lounge. This was a typical day at the office for me. The things we got away with would never fly today. Between the boozing, bribery, and boinking I guess you could have called us the "Pirates of the Prime Meridian". Looking back the "Rules Didn't Apply" even for a regular guy like me.