Then Versus Now: How Aviation Has Changed

Air travel today is vastly different from what it was 50 to 60 years ago. During the “Golden Age” of aviation, the experience of flying was something of an event. According to multiple reports, travelers would often dress up and prepare for the experience to fly the friendly skies. If you’ve ever been on an airplane in the last few years or so, you would know that this is not the case today; in fact, flights on economy class are often dreaded. So what happened? Why are we no longer living in the Golden Age of aviation anymore?


Well, technically speaking, we are. Traveling by airplane is far safer, faster and more luxurious than it ever was. However, you have to be quite wealthy to enjoy the latter. The Golden Age was only considered to have existed back then because airplane trips were so extravagant; but that was only because ticket prices were so exorbitantly high. As the price of airfare declined, so did the number of features and amenities.


Travel back in time with me as I compare aviation’s Golden Age to today.



Living in a post-9/11 world, we are all accustomed to intense airplane security. However, far before the tragic attacks, there essentially was no such thing. According to a report from Huffington Post, passengers could arrive at their gates with only 30 minutes to spare, and did not have to present ID. There was obviously no TSA, so security measures were incredibly lax. Also, the airplanes were designed quite differently back then making air travel incredibly uncomfortable and loud.



Today, you’re lucky to be served food on a flight at all; that is, if you fly economy. By flying first class on some of today’s extravagant airlines, like Emirates Airlines, you get a bevy of scrumptious food choices like caviar or alcoholic beverages like wine. However, back in the Golden Age, you were guaranteed an eclectic array of food options, such as lobster or roast beef.



This may come as no surprise, but smoking was incredibly popular during the 50s. Almost half of the American population was smoking cigarettes, and as far as airplanes were concerned, it was fair game. Simply search online for videos of smoking on airplanes and you’re immediately greeted with dozens of file footage videos of passengers puffing away. For anyone who has flown within the last 17 years, you know that that is no longer the case today. In 2000, a law was put into place banning all smoking on all flights to and from America.

Dave Pflieger

Dave Pflieger is currently the CEO of Island Air and previously the President and CEO of Silver Airways. Previously, Dave Pflieger was the CEO & Managing Director of Air Pacific (later Fiji Airways). Before joining Air Pacific, Mr. Pflieger was a Founding Officer and Senior Vice President at Virgin America from 2004 to 2010.

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