Ah, flying how it used to be. Although a fun commercial with a great cast of airplanes, I feel it overly beautifies the earlier years of air travel. Sure, it was a big deal at the time since it was so costly and it was still new, but even comparing to 1984’s standards it would have been a bad experience for most people.

For aviation nerds, being able to fly on an old United Airlines Ford Tri-Motor would be an amazing experience. However, for most people it would be horrid. Very loud, lots of vibrations, uncomfy seats, and lots of fuel stops between point A and point B. Your coffee might have been served on a silver platter and given a glass of chocolate milk, but that doesn’t make it worth while.

Even with the “now” portion of the video, which takes place in 1984, it is a lot different than it is in 2011. A first class seat on a current United Airlines Boeing 747 is going to be much more comfortable and probably a bit cheaper. Not to mention all that interesting in-flight entertainment available now.

Sorry, I am not trying to harp too much on this video, I really enjoy it. Who can not like a video with a Ford Tri-Motor, Boeing 747-200, DC-10 and DC-8? I think it just supports the idea that flying used to be so much more glamorous, where I think it is just as glamorous or even a bit more than it used to be (not to even mention safer) — it is all about perspective.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: david@airlinereporter.com

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I do remember my first DC8 trip in 1978. Charter from Boise to Washington Dulles. With 240 high schoolers on board. With the little seatback air vents (in the seatback instead of the overheads).

R Lopaka

Gee….Aren’t we Lucky folks were just “tougher” back then? Otherwise we’d have no planes,trains or automobiles. It’s all relative. Beats sitting in an open cockpit,sitting on the mail bags,thermos bottles,no heat,pressurization etc. Beat taking the train. OMG…how did we ever fly before jets?…Sheesh!!! Probably whine about getting the middle seat on an A380. I loved the commercial. BTW,They forgot to mention the 1st Stewardess. Brings into question the reporters credibility as a legit “Airline Reporter” as he apparently just doesn’t get it.

For me, the commercial was about perspective of service, not about the first flight attendant. But if you are curious, the first US flight attendant was hired on by United in 1930. Back then you had to be a nurse and of course know how to serve coffee on a silver platter.


R Lopaka

Ellen Church.As I understand it, she 1st applied as a pilot with BAT. In WWII she was a Flt Nurse in the Army Nurse Corps, with the rank of Capt. I’m good friends with UAs current most senior FA. UAs 1st Stewards. He started in 1949. We met in HNL when UA had a 747 pilot base there.

Mt first flight as a child was in a Delta DC-10 with my aunt. It was amazing until the part we were on final approach and the landing gear came down. It made such a noise that I told my aunt “I think the plane just lost its muffler”. My aunt just laugh her guts out and thats when I realized that sound was a common thing. That was the day I became an aviation nerd as you call it.

Bob Schilling

All these young people…my first flight was in a Lockheed Constellation from LA to Chicago, on United’s competitor TWA. I also flew on PSA’s Electras to SFO. My first UAL flight was a DC-8 from LA to New York – first class, as it happens. There were fewer creature comforts, but the service was far better. Before deregulation, airlines had a good deal more money to spend on their passengers. And that of course is the nub of the problem. When we deregulated, we got cheap travel — it’s less expensive in current dollars to fly from LA to NY, let alone in discounted dollars. What we gave up was service and amenities. We’ve got Greyhound prices, and Greyhound service.

That is correct! If people were willing to pay the money to get back the service, you better believe airlines would be responding. There are a few and that is why first/business class can still exist (well and mileage plan holders).


Mary-Kate Mackey

I am the actress who played the stewardess who poured the coffee from the silver platter. We wore real uniforms, not costumes, and shot in Visalia in the desert where that non-flying trimotor was stored. It was the most lucrative commercial I ever made because for years UAL pulled those clips of me and cut them into other commercials. Funny to see it after all this time.

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