Have Budget Airlines killed the Glamour of Flying and Air Travel?
A Brief History of Low Cost Air Travel and Cheap Flights
From the 1950s onwards air travel became increasingly glamorous. Being a pilot or an air hostess was cool and everyone wanted to fly but few could afford it.
A job where you could be paid to jet around the globe was therefore the envy of all.
Popular belief had it, in those far off days, that the cabin crew spent most of the flight smiling amiably at the passengers and occasionally providing a nice drink or a tray of delicious food.
Because few people flew and planes were small, the staff/passenger ratios were relatively low.
Little did the crew know then that the future would bring budget airlines with low fares, packed aircraft and staff worked off their feet!
Shirley Flight - Air Hostess!
The legend of the Air hostess was encapsulated in a series of novels published in the UK in the 1960s by Judith Dale and Trudi Arlen.
Each novel is set in a different part of the world enabling the heroine, Shirley to experience a series of exciting but by the standards of today, very innocent adventures.
The Air Hostess had become figure of fantasy. For women she was a role model. It was the secret dream of every schoolgirl to run away from home and travel the world.
For men the hostess was an icon of female perfection; glamourous, well travelled yet ready to serve.
Girl in a Jet Engine
Airlines were all about glamour and new technology. The hostess provided the glamour and jet engines were a modern innovation for passenger planes so publicity shots often combined the two.
Hence the cliché shot of the hostess inside a jet engine. Interesting that you don't see publicity shots of hostesses hanging on to the propellors of earlier planes.
Around thw 1960s Airlines began to move from a traditional cosy image to something more cutting edge. Hostesses changed from smart suits into clothing more reminisent of a Bond Movie. Flying became more edgy and exciting.
"Shaken not stirred, Mr Bond?"
In the Swinging Sixties the whole thing became more extreme. Airlines embraced pop culture and dressed the 'trolley dollys' in miniskirts and trendy hats more at home in Carnaby Street than an aircraft.
But the airlines still loved the iconic 'hostess in an engine' pictures. The only difference was the hostess was now trendy and hip.
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Iconic 'Hostess in a Jet'
This is Tammy. The original Trolley Dolly?
Tammy was, If not 'trolleyed' certainly very happy during and after every flight.
In these innocent days before litigation and health and safety legislation, Tammy often helped the groundcrew refuel and appeared to unload most of the baggage single handed.
Tarnished and Tarty. Pimp my Plane?
The trendy image continued through the 1960s but by the end of the decade the iconic 'swinging hostess' had became tarnished and tarty.
The girls became less efficient and service-oriented so the airlines responded by putting more and more of them onto their planes.
Here we see the emergence of a typical cheap airline where over half the people on board appear to be cabin crew and the passengers can't get any rest during the flight because of the din of the partying hostesses.
Southwest Airlines - Fly Me?
This seedy, degrading image of women in the air climaxes in pictures which are more reminisent of a massage parlour than the interior of an aircraft.
Jane, pictured here, learnt her skills in pole dancing dives and lap dancing clubs and is quick to solicit cash from her eager punters before delivering the goods.
Cut price airlines began to make cheap flights pay by selling lots of 'extras'.
Interesting that Southwest Airlines have more recently been in the news because they have asked female passengers to cover up because they were revealing too much flesh.
How times have changed!
Cut Price Pilots
As the glamour and uprightness of the hostesses declined so too those at the controls began to look less trustworthy.
These guys have pimps written all over them. Would you buy a used car from either of them?
Come to think of it, would you trust them to get you to Honolulu yet alone Bangkok in one piece?
More Hostesses in Jets
Meanwhile the more repectable airlines were still herding their girls into jet engines in a pathetic attempt to salvage their image and bring back the glamour of flight.
These pictures were taken so often that it was not unusual for the girls to have to climb into an engine after an 18 hour flight, with the thing still turning, just to generate still more cheap publicity.
Standards continued to fall and, by the early 1970s, the airlines suffered from a dramatic fall in the number of passengers and a significant reduction in staff discipline and behaviour.
One of the Better Airlines in Steep Decline
All Time Low in Airline Standards of Comfort
Meanwhile, the slide in standards continued until in the 1980s when budget airlines were born. The glamour had finally gone from the airline business.
The cabin crew now had to endure uniforms so unfashionable that even women on death row would refuse to wear them.
The gradual decline continued to the present day with increasingly vicious price competion cutting profit margins. The increasing demand for oil and the credit crunch finished off many traditional airlines.
Who knows what the future will bring? Airships or new greener aircraft using solar energy? Whatever happens the airline business is currently almost grounded and the future must surely be upward?
The Good Old Days of Flight
Southwest Airlines Ad from 1972
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