AIR TRAVEL…….in the 50’s and now
In 1957 I was living in New York City and one of my favorite pastimes was to people-watch at LaGuardia airport. In those days it was a luxury to travel by plane and the customers dressed accordingly. It was not uncommon to see a known personality, dressed to the nines and accompanied by 6 or 7 peons carrying elaborate luggage and all varieties of pets, on leashes and in cages. I would spend hours mesmerized by the glamorous scene.
Another aspect of that time was that you didn’t have to be the traveler to get up close to the take-off area. A viewer, like myself in the photo, could pretend to be waiting for someone and would have a front-row seat in the terminal. My romantic, 22 year old, imagination would take over and I would be the one departing or arriving. Ah, youth...tragedy and elation rolled into one long afternoon.
Fast forward to today. The airport is still one of my favorite people-watching places but humanity itself has changed drastically. I actually prefer it now because it represents real life as opposed to the Hollywood version of my youth. I love the variety of skin colors, the ethnic outfits and the languages that I don’t understand. I especially enjoy seeing young people travel but so many of them have the air of world-weary travelers. I want to shake them and say, “forget being so cool...cherish the moment.”
The new airport regulations have made it a little more inconvenient to travel by plane but it is well worth it for the sake of security. The one area that annoys me, however, is the inconsistency between scheduled flight times and the actual times of departure and arrival. I have spent many a harrowing moment wondering if I would make my connections.
I will never forget a ticketed flight that I had from Florence, Italy to Munich, Germany and then on to the United States. On arrival at the airport…at 5:30 AM… we were told that they were repaving the Florence airport and that our flight was cancelled! (Only in Italy could they pull this off...with many hand gestures and expressions of sympathy and assurances that our plane would wait for us in Munich! HAH !!)
Then there was the time that I was stuck…on the plane…for over 7 hours in Dallas. It was February and an ice storm was creating havoc. Our pilot was fit to be tied because we were a small plane filled with vacationers and the tower kept bumping us for the larger commercial flights. He finally spoke over the intercom and told us to feel free to write to the airline with our complaints. He even gave us his name to include in our letter.
So, I guess the bottom line is this: I will continue to travel by plane as long as I am able. With all it’s flaws and inconveniences it still gets me to magical places.