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Take Flight

“The Golden Age of Travel” is a phrase often used to depict the elegant flying days of the 1950s and 1960s. That was the era of complimentary on-flight services including unlimited cocktails, multi-course meals and actual silverware. There were no ad-on fees for baggage or seat choice and passengers enjoyed an extra three to six inches of legroom.

Airline meals from days long gone
Airline meals from days long gone

While those glory days of dressing up and flying in style may trigger the nostalgic urge of wanting to go back to those earlier flights, you may want to consider the many advantages of today’s airline industry. The first major advancement is in safety. There have been vast improvements in aircraft technology pertaining to materials and design, as well as continual upgrades to the on-board computer system. The new air traffic control system (NextGen) will completely change the current ground-based system over to a satellite-based system by the year 2025. This will allow closer monitoring which will reduce gridlock and make air travel even safer.

The cost of travel has gone down as well. According to world travel blog Gadling, ticket prices have decreased nearly 40% since air travel in the 1950s. Back then, flying was considered a luxury and most could not afford it. Families opted for vacation destinations they could drive to. With today’s online discount travel sites, air travel is affordable and vacation options are wide open.

One change to be thankful for on present flights is the non-smoking policy. In the 50s and 60s, smoking of cigarettes, pipes and even cigars were allowed and all that second hand smoke was trapped inside the cabin to be shared with all passengers.

Our delicious and filling airline food today
Our delicious and filling airline food today

Another change today is the more acceptable requirements for those wanted to be flight attendants. In the 50s and 60s, stewardesses had to be young unmarried women with a maximum body weight of 125 pounds. These women were under strict regulations regarding their looks and, since the majority of the passengers were businessmen, had to deal with sexism on a daily basis.

While the glamorous days of air travel are long gone, we are lucky to be living in an age where flights are affordable, convenient and a whole lot safer. Although I am not sure this will makes us feel any better the next time we fly in our cramped seat eating our miniature bag of pretzels.

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Cynthia Lopinto

Cyn LoPinto, M.A. is a gerontologist focusing on significant issues affecting older adults and their families. Her areas of interest include lifestyle enrichment, family dynamics, and caregiver support. Cyn has worked in both the recreational and healthcare industries.

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