Friday, September 14, 2007

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.


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I remember once going to the airport in Toronto after a Christmas Youth banquet. The ladies were all dressed and wanted to flaunt it somewhere.

2:46 PM  
Blogger KGMom said...

Ginnie--I love the photos you use--you at various stages in your marvelous life.
Ah--tis true. Airline travel has changede, but we still love to watch people. Now I am struck with the international aspects of travel--people from all over the world constantly on the go.

4:12 PM  
Blogger Bud said...

Great blog Ginny. I love people watching also.

2:12 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This remindedmy that my dad used to take us to Love Field in Dallas where we would sit in the terminal and watch the big planes come and go. It was in the Braniff days and the outfits the stews wore were a big deal. My grandparents lived so close to the airport that the planes came over their house with the landing gears down. It was probably quieter at the airport.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Beryl Ament said...

I too am most impressed by your ability to locate the "perfect" photo. I am working on it, but most of the time I know I have an appropriate photo to illustrate a post, but just can't quite put my finger on it.

6:07 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

I love people watching in all places, but especially airports - and street corners in NYC! I love flying also, no matter what the bad sides of it are.

7:47 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Like the others, I love your photos. They always capture the mood of the time they were taken.

As for flying, the changes amaze me. But aside from the excitement of travel, it's not my favorite mode of transportation... I'm too claustrophobic.

3:00 AM  
Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

I concur. Airports have always been a fascination of mine too. The greeting of passengers, the saying goodbye to others..I love it. I love that coat in the second image btw!

6:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since my husband is a retired aircraft supervisior...I could write a book on airline experiences we've had!
I'm afraid I prefer "the old days" of travel.
I still love flying...but's simply a means to an end.

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having flown hundreds of times on business and pleasure, it would take some real emergency to get me anywhere near an airport today. Most British terminal buildings now resemble shopping malls and seem to be staffed by people who know nothing about customer service.

6:08 AM  
Blogger Tammy said...

Ginnie - I sure do love reading about your experiences!!

Thanks also for stopping by my blog - I am really looking forward to seeing North Carolina! It will be an adventure for me - and it will help us decide if we do indeed want to move down there!! :)

1:59 PM  

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