The golden age of flying is now – if you have $ 30,000, you can have your own suite for eight hours of sleep while floating peacefully above the clouds, punctuated only by gourmet Michelin-starred dishes excellent chefs. But let's face it, the actual golden age of flying was the early jet age, when flying was a thrill, when the jet set were people to look up to, and as a plane ticket stuck in your hand meant you were glamorous. But was it really all it should be? Read on, dear reader. .
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10 Everyone smoked
The only smoke-free zone was the first rows of the first class. The second class had non-smoking areas in the front, but the smokers of the first class smoked second hand. When you look at an aircraft, it has a connection at the back in which the air from the cabin, which consists of 75% connection air and 25% fresh air, is returned to the interior. The back of this plane used to be brown with nicotine because everyone was smoking and as a result the air was full of stuff.
Aircraft bleed one of the engines, which is air-conditioned and fed into the front of the aircraft. The front part of the first class (then a separate cabin) was clean air. Behind it was the first-class smoking section, so everyone behind it got second-hand smoke. Behind it was the second class of non-smokers and then the second class of smoking. When you got to the back of the fuselage, the air was so thick that you couldn't see through it. 
9 It was really loud
High-bypass engines that are much quieter are a relatively recent invention. The jets that powered the VC-10, Comet 4B (video above) and Boeing 707 were very loud. A Rolls-Royce engineer described the engine that powers the Comet 4B as a device that turns expensive jet fuel into noise. Much of it was transferred to the passenger cabin. The VC10, a very congested commercial aircraft designed for short descents from hot and high runways, took off like a rocket and was correspondingly loud at the rear, where all four jets were located.
Modern jets have a high bypass, which means that at supersonic speeds, the core gas is surrounded by an envelope of cooler, slower air, which greatly reduces the noise. Hush kits further reduce the noise. The noise from a 707 take-off corresponds to ten take-offs of a modern jet in terms of noise pollution.
What did not help is that planes had to fly from relatively short runways that were designed for propeller planes, and therefore required enormous amounts of thrust. The 747 meant the runways were lengthened, reducing the need for congested (and therefore noisy) aircraft. Airplanes are now also tailored to the routes on which they will fly. Different planes fly to hot and high airports, such as can be found in large parts of Africa and South America. In the early days, every airplane was expected to fly from a short, hot, and high airport.
They are called "hot and high" because the air is thinner at higher altitudes and it is even thinner when the air is hot. An airplane that takes off from Lusaka in Zambia therefore needs almost twice as much electricity as one at sea level in temperate latitudes like London Heathrow. Airplanes are designed for every condition. 
8 It was expensive. . . And it was chic
A first-class cabin on an Emirates A380 will bring you back about $ 30,000, but flying wasn't much cheaper in the golden age. A second class seat from Paris to London would pay you back £ 50 if the annual wage was £ 2,000. No wonder that flying was for the rich and glamorous. Being a member of the Jet Set meant that you had made your place in the world. Mass tourism only really came into play with the Jumbo Jet, the 747, which democratized flying.
When boarding the plane, a photographer gave you the option to have your photo taken against the background of the plane's tail, to show that you really were a jet setter. 
7 Unaccompanied minors
All airlines flew children to and from their parents and boarding schools. They were referred to as unaccompanied minors. They had special badges and a hostess would see them moving from one plane to another. Few airlines offer this service, which means that children must always be effectively accompanied by an adult.
Children usually received a trip to the cockpit, free gifts such as badges and card games (of course with the airline logo on the back) and had the pilot sign their Junior Jet Club albums. The airlines knew that their young customers were helping to promote brand loyalty. This category of passengers is hardly tolerated these days because they occupy a seat but pay a lower price, and since flying becomes a commodity, they are no longer a market target. 
6 It Was Not So Safe  The classic aircraft of the early jet era was the Boeing 707, which outperformed most other comparable jetliners together. It has a built-in tendency to “Dutch roll” and basically wags its tail in the air, which can develop into dangerous instability if not corrected. As a result, it was difficult to fly.
The first jet aircraft, the Comet, suffered from metal fatigue problems that led to fatal crashes. Early jet engines were also not as reliable, which is why most planes had four, so the flight could still continue if some of them failed.
Without sophisticated avionics such as weather radar, flights could not predict exactly what they would fly through. Rudimentary radar on the ground meant that there were multiple collisions in the air (they are virtually unknown).
Then there was always the risk of being kidnapped. Since the cockpit is always open so that children can come and get an idea of it, as well as privileged adult passengers, everyone can go to the cabin and ask to be brought to Cuba. 
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5 No entertainment during the flight
Movies? Entertainment on the seat? No, the technology was unable. Their conversation consisted of conversations with your fellow jet setters who flirted, smoked, drank and ate with the hostesses (as flight attendants were then known). And be patient with a set of small BOAC playing cards that fit on the fold-down compartment.
Hostesses were the entertainment during the flight. Most of the passengers were male at a time dominated by men. They weren't primarily safety specialists who tried to get people off the plane quickly in the event of an accident. They were expected to be female, under 32, unmarried and sexy. Singapore Airlines is still projecting this image of the “Singapore Girl” as a suitable subject of pleasure. 
4 No special treatment in customs
At that time there were no airlifts. After being pampered in the jet set luxury, you'll need an umbrella in Heathrow or a fur coat in Sheremetievo because you've walked on the asphalt and sometimes walked a considerable distance from the flight terminal. When you got there, there was no air conditioning or, at best, rudimentary heating as you went through customs and immigration. Without a Schengen zone (passport-free European countries) there was no relief from the outrage of having opened and searched your baggage, filling out immigration forms and showing your passport. Not to mention the restrictions on the amount of money you can receive abroad and the currency restrictions on how much of it you can convert to foreign currency. But there was compensation. 
3 Seat-side service
The wide aisle of the 707 meant that first-class passengers enjoyed seat-side service from the rotisserie. Pan Am realized early on that they couldn't keep up with the chic airlines like Air France and teamed up with Maxims from Paris to handle their transatlantic catering. By modern standards, the food was not that exotic (Tournedos Rossini appears frequently), but the wine list is to die for. Nobody seemed too worried that people would get off the plane, because a typical menu for a transatlantic flight was an aperitif, two wines, and a scotch or brandy afterwards. As many charges as you want. Of course, jet setters shouldn't have to worry about drinking and driving after a flight. For that they would have a chauffeur. 
747 and A380 have handrails for over 300 passengers and are usually limited to first class. Super Constellations (one of the first transatlantic luxury aircraft, even though they weren't jets) had an on-board bar for about 48 passengers. Around 707 also had on-board bars. This means that you can stay off from the moment the signs "Put on seat belts, no smoking" remain on until they are turned on again for landing. You could even enjoy a fine cigar: the restriction to "only cigarettes, no pipes or cigars" only came into play if the air became too thick. 
1 They were special
This is something that the airlines of 2020 finally caught up with – to make people feel special. From 2001, flying was a chore to endure as a problematic route to your destination. In the golden age of flying, it was an experience – something to boast of and souvenirs to show off.
First class flying means that anything you want or need, from check-in to your chauffeured limousine, will get you to your hotel. But how can you compare it to rubbing your shoulders (literally) with Marilyn Monroe or Frank Sinatra? 
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