As any frequent flyer will tell you, air travel is constantly changing. From leg room to warm nuts, free booze and people dressing up in their Sunday best, there are simply a few things that have faded into the annals of aviation history. And yes, some are for the better (goodbye smoking) some are for the worse (please bring back legroom). Here are seven things you’ll likely never see on an airplane again.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, smoking on flights prior to the 1980s was highly encouraged and “passengers could take their pick from cigarettes, cigars, or pipes while non-smokers were exposed to second-hand smoke.”
In fact, smoking wasn’t even banned on U.S. flights until 1988, and even then it was only for flights with a duration of two hours or less, according to The New York Times. Smoking went the way of the dodo in 2000 when a law finally mandated all flights to and from the U.S. be smoke-free.
In the early-to-mid 1970s, American Airlines delighted guests with an actual piano lounge in the rear of its 747s, according to MentalFloss. The exact piano, a Wurlitzer electric piano, surely helped make for a more pleasant flying experience, however, it required frequent repairs due to guests spilling their (free) drinks all over the keys. Sorry music lovers, you’ll just have to suffer through the in-flight entertainment instead.
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Flying without an ID
As Business Insider reported, passengers flying in the 1960s could simply show up at the airport about 30 minutes before their flight, walk right up to the gate and board without a single form of identification. Security screenings were finally implemented and became mandatory in 1973, however even then the laws were much more relaxed than they are today. So, make sure to still bring every form of identification that’s ever existed with you on your next flight.
Seriously, what was going on with the 1970s? Not only did planes come with pianos, but as MentalFloss noted, Pan Am also featured freshly-cut flowers on every tray table.
As part of its ad campaign, which showed off the fact that their flights were “vibration-free,” Pan Am proved they could have a fresh flower arrangement at each seat and it wouldn’t spill. The airline sadly discontinued this service in the late ‘70s.
Sure, you may think lay-flat beds in first-class are cool today, but back in the day everyone enjoyed that privilege. As MentalFloss noted, every single seat, including those in economy class, could be adjusted into a bed during the 1940s on the Boeing Stratocruiser. But, as airlines grew and more passengers needed to be accommodated, sleeping comfortably on a plane became a high-class luxury item.
Lots (and lots) of free alcohol for everyone
Yes, you still get served cocktails for free in first class, but if you want a drink in economy you have to be prepared to pay up. But, it wasn’t always this way. According to Fast Company, in the 1950s and 1960s, people were served as much alcohol as they wished, and this likely was to keep people busy as in-flight entertainment was nonexistent back then.
“Memoirs written during the Golden Age of Flying are filled with lively accounts of drunken passengers,” Guillaume de Syon, a professor at Pennsylvania’s Albright College and an expert on aviation history, told Fast Company. “People would just pour themselves scotch after scotch.”
Visiting the cockpit
Following the 9/11 terrorism attacks, all passenger visits to the cockpit of an airplane became strictly prohibited. Prior to this, it was commonplace for children and families to go say hello to the pilots and were even given commemorative pilot wings for the occasion. And though it’s still banned for people to enter the cockpit during a flight, you can still go say hi once you’ve landed.
“Occasionally pilots might be too busy before a flight, but afterwards there is almost always time,” British Airways B747 pilot Mark Vanhoenacker shared in in Skyfaring: A Journey With a Pilot. “Parents often take pictures of their children in one of the pilot’s seats, and no parent has yet declined my offer to take a picture of them in the seat, too.”