Sunday, June 18, 2017

And The Overwhelming Winner Is...

Many thanks to those who partook in our poll. I appreciate your many thoughtful comments. This was my favorite design. I'm glad so many others agree. We've been working on the cover designs with a couple in Long Beach, CA. They have fond memories of TWA, and I feel they captured that period in commercial air travel when flying was still glamorous.

By the end of the month we anticipate having our Advanced Reader Copies (ARC's) printed. Stacey has already arranged for me to attend book events in the Greater Cincinnati area. I'm really getting excited now!

Friday, June 9, 2017

When Air Travel was Golden

Part of an Ad, From TWA Movie Clips, Vintage Photos on Facebook
Recently, the writer of an opinion article in the New York Times claimed there was no such "Golden Age of Air Travel," Much of the article dealt with economic factors cited by the Airlines for America Industry Trade group. He mentioned how the cost of airfares decreased (adjusting for inlation) since the "Golden Age". There was no mention though of the stagnation and decline of disposable income over those years for tens of millions of Americans. He also cites how many itineraries took longer than today, due to slower planes and multiple stops. I must say that our 747's in the early seventies, flying from Los Angeles to London, arrived just as fast as those today.

The Golden Age of Air Travel--as I define being during my time with TWA (1964-1974)--was not an economic era, but a cultural era. In this sense, it was the most flourishing period in the history of commercial air. Folks excitedly anticipated dressing up and getting on a plane. Smoking wasn't a big issue then as it is today in planes, restaurants, etc. Ample seat comfort and legroom was standard in coach, unlike today (see my earlier blog post). The transition from prop to jet was much more remarkable than the addition of WI FI and visual entertainment systems in today's cramped jets. Back then, folks on board didn't expect to be constantly entertained or occupied. They read, slept, knitted, and wrote letters--in cursive!
L-1011 Coach Lounge
Cross-country wide-body planes offered spacious coach lounges, offering passengers a place to stop by for a drink and some conversation. When was the last time you mingled around the bar in coach? Most flights over 90 minutes provided coach passengers with a hot meal, accompanied with real silverware.

Did one pay more then-adjusted for inflation? If so, so what. You definitely got more than you get on today's flights. Cheaper transportation in cramped seats was always available with Greyhound and Trailways.

Computer systems have vastly improved (?) since the Golden Age. Today, if you're flying on the lowest coach fare, the computers will mandate your seat assignment at the airport, possibly separating you from your family members or travel companions. It's all about the airlines' bottom line--not your comfort. And during a prolonged computer outage--something increasingly common these days--an airline suffers complete paralysis. So does its passengers! For one thing, there are no standard hand-written tickets capable of admitting passengers on board (as we had in the past).
Standard TWA Ticket
Most of my soon-to-be-published memoir, Up, Up and Astray recalls my life during that exciting period. It was fun writing it, and it was a real blast living it!