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Traveling in a Boeing 747 in the 1970s was pretty awesome

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Air travel did have a Golden Age. There was more space, classier interiors and bolder designs. You don't even have to go back to the 50s and 60s to see that. Here are some of the actual cabin interiors for the Boeing 747s in the 1970s. They are awesome. The idea of the Boeing 747 started in the 1960s, when Pan Am asked Boeing for 400-seat plane. Pan Am's chairman Juan Trippe had a flying ocean liner in mind, a double-decker jet. But the design team at Boeing didn't think this was… ( المزيد...

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robert albee 9
These are the pictures that instilled the dream of commercial flying as a child. Now I am old enough all the fun is all used up. Where is the Piano Bar?
Dave Mills 3
I'm with you 110% on that one. For me it was almost as if Kubrick's "2001" had come to life. Vietnam and Watergate aside, it was a dream come true and inspiration for a kid who'd been growing up watching the space program develop, marveled at Seattle, New York and Montreal world fairs, and then had Dad take him on his first 747 in tow.
Viet Nam was a huge tragedy. Watergate was a pimple compared to the crimes committed by more modern politicians. I need my bell bottoms back and some good music. Lol
Matthew Unger 4
As a youngster, I flew on a 747-200SP from San Juan PR to NY JFK that had a low table with high-backed chairs around it. Apparently it was a charter for oil executives (my grandfather was big in the oil industry). I miss the "golden age of Aviation." Remember when people dressed nicely to fly?
They even bathed! Lol
preacher1 1
Everybody talks about being cooped up in a tube for a couple of hours listening to cell phone gibberish; it ain't any better having to sit next to somebody that doesn't know what deodorant is for or that hasn't bathed in about a week.
CaptJohn1 3
I remember flying Pan Am, JFK to San Francisco, 747SP. Every month, upstairs in first class, they cooked a roast on board, bottles of wine, great flight back and forth, I used to look forward to it. Flying today is the pits!
bill gelber 1

Bill G.
John Rogers 3
My first flight on a 747 was on our honeymoon in 1976. $880 for two first-class round trip tickets from San Diego to Honolulu. Ate lunch, prime rib carved at our seats before going to the top deck for aft-dinner adult beverages. Adjusted for inflation today's prices may not be all that out of whack but today's inflight services and meals can't compare.
PhotoFinish 0
Two people can fly for less in inflation-adjusted dollars in either first or business class from either LAX or SAN. Many airlines have spectacular food available for their F passengers, that go well beyond your carved roast beef. Some also have in-flight lounges available exclusively to their premium passengers.

So the pricing and product available today is at least comparable to your cherished memories from long ago.

Note: On some airlines, F class isn't just a seat. It's a suite, often partitioned, with a lie-flat bed and personalized entertainment, plus in-flight wifi/ internet.
The big dif is people. In that era people acted with some sort of dignity and class. Today you may be surrounded by people who have neither.
CaptJohn1 2
You've got that right. My last flight a girl (about 19 or so) got on the plane with what looked like PJ's and slippers on! She hadn't even run a comb through her hair. How many times do you see people getting on looking like their on their way to the gym. I'm born and raised in New York (state, not the city), and I hate to admitt it, but we are the worst offenders! You don't need a suit and tie, but please, how about a little respect for everyone else on the flight. At least try to show a litle class.
PhotoFinish 1
As long as their smells and sounds don't impact the traveling experience of other travelers, why should anyone care what others are wearing.*

Flying is no longer the end in and if itself, but the means to get there. I'm not convinced that isn't a good thing.

The captain, I want to see in a sharply pressed blazer. The pilots have an important function to perform, and should look the part. The pasengers are just along for the ride.

*The whole family was all dressed up (full suits, etc.) for flights as a kid. And I were a nice blazer, when I'll need one on my trip. But wouldn't ever consider bringing one for the flight if I wasn't going to need it at the other end. Passengers should dress for comfort (in-flight
PhotoFinish 1
as well as getting to and from the airport).
You can bet her living quarters are equally unkept and if she has personal transportation it isn't fit to sit in. Just a guess. Lol
PhotoFinish 1
That may or may not be true and certainly can't be ascertained from from dressing appropriately for a long sleep on a plane.
CaptJohn1 1
This was West Palm Beach to New York, hardly what one would call a, "long plane ride". Their are no good excuses for getting on a plane dressed one step above that of the homeless, unless you happen to be one. Wallace24 is correct, she is obviously a slob. In the 70's when people flew they dressed neatly, they didn't look like, or smell like, they just rolled out of bed, and they behaved themselves while on the flight. You didn't have people behaving as if they were someone special, like they owned the plane. Screaming kids running up and down the asile's was not the norm, as it is today. If your child had a food allergy you didn't call attention to yourself by demanding the flight crew remove whatever it was from the flight, depriving all the rest on the passangers of what little their was to eat in the first place. People had respect for those around them (aside from smoking on flights, which I hated), not so today. Yes, the service today stinks, the planes are completely full, and their are more people crammed into the planes as well. But the people on those aircraft today bear a lot more responsibility for the overall negative experiance than they would like to believe they do.
PhotoFinish 1
Those are more legitimate gripes.

As far as the young woman in pj's. I would figure it was morning, at least for her.

I'd rather another passenger wear pj's and sleep off their vacation partying, than be running up and down the aisles, kicking other passengers seats, screaming and generally carrying on. That's just the kids. It's even worse when adults behave similarly.

But pj's wouldn't bother me.
CaptJohn1 1
Now if she had gotten on with a tube top, miniskirt and heels......
PhotoFinish 1
But on some airlines, young women dressed that way have been refused boarding.

Go figure.
Odds are in my favor. Lol
PhotoFinish 1
Not sure about that.

The following are all legit reasons for a young woman to want to wear pj's on a flight.

1. Desire to sleep in pajamas for hours on a long plane ride.
2. Not wanting to change out of pajamas before an early morning flight. Not wanting to miss the flight.

3. Not wanting to leave dirty laundry, nor pack it into baggage (which were already packed from the night before).

4. Wearing pj's helps relieve otherwise intolerable anxiety about flying in multi-ton plane that seems to stay afloat miraculously.

5. Don't want to wrinkle an outfit during the flight. A wrinkled outfit would then need to be laundered, dry cleaned or pressed at the destination. This can be expensive, inconvenient, and poor use of time while on vacation or business trip. Plus with strict baggage limits, every ounce counts.
PhotoFinish 1
BTW None of the above would suggest a messy person or a messy room. Some might even be OCD neat freaks.
Personally, I don't find validity in any of them. If you are not fleeing a home fire clean up, comb your hair, and dress before you grace the public with your presence. That said, I know she is not alone. I receive the WalMart shopper emails. Lol
PhotoFinish 1
I don't mind if someone prioritizes sleep over other concerns. Just as long as they don't try to use my shoulder or arm as their head rest, as they try to sleep.

It's easy to judge by the cover. But it's not so easy to be right all the time.
I'm batting over 900 lifetime average.
PhotoFinish 1
Ok, you win. You made me laugh.

Though I do reserve the right to not judge every book by its' cover.
I admit I was wrong a couple times. Damn divorces are expensive.
PhotoFinish -2
If airlines hobbled by collective bargaining can't compete in the marketplace, newer younger airlines with better service models and foreign airlines will win customers at faster rates.

The products are nominally the same or better as compare to the past. If other airlines are coming closer to giving passengers what they want (some seem to have the impression that some airlines have lost their way), then they'll do better than the airlines that are seemingly falling short.
Ray Brothers 1
Not sure I understand. LAX-HNL on Alaska and others March 22nd F code $7,627 for two seats. Cost of living in 1976 one $ = $3.84 today. The two seats should be $3,379 which is less than the price of one current code F. Geesh, code T on Delta same day is $770. Not interested in the sub-$700 seats that have you overnighting in SFO. Suite or not where did you get your inflation-adjusted numbers?
PhotoFinish 1
When I checked a picked a random date about 4 months in advance and got a fare of about $3,600-$3,800 for 2 F tickets. I did it or both SAN and LAX. That is less than the inflation-adjusted price in today's dollars of that reported fare from decades ago.

Today you typically get lie-flat bed, maybe even a private suite in F class, instead of a recliner of decades ago.

Sounds like improvement to me. Better hard product and lower price. On some airlines you have a great soft product too. Gourmet chef-designed meals, personal entertainment device, wireless Internet and friendly staff.
PhotoFinish 2
* about 3 months
Ray Brothers 1
Can you post the details? Been looking for a few weeks and can only find Z or G for less than $1800 a seat. A started at $2152.
PhotoFinish 1
I just looked up a week starting April 15:
SAN Hawaiian
First - a little above $1800
Business - a little less than $1800

First $1800+
First $1341

All flights are non stops from either SAN or LAX. You can connect from SAN through LAX for about the same (or not much more) than that lower fare on Delta. I only picked one day. There may be lower fares on other days. The other day I only picked one day (some other random day as well). These fares should be reflective of generally available fares. On any other specific date, the fares may be much higher or even somewhat lower. I didn't try to find the lowest fare. I was happy to find lower fares than the inflation-adjusted historic fares on the first day I check. (And now repeated again on another 2nd random day.)
mjr82178 2
I'm too young to have experienced the luxurious travel like this in the 1970s, so I have a silly question. I've seen many photos of the lounges and bars, etc on these 747s and other planes going back into the 60s and 50s. Did people take turns going to the lounge? How was the space shared? It seems the lounges in any of the photos coudn't accommodate everyone at once.
Fred Rosa 2
In those days, flights were rarely 100% full, like today. The flights which I remember were maybe 20-30% full in First, 40-50% full in Coach. The lounge usually seated about 30% of the seats in First Class. There was plenty of room to roam around in the First Class seating section, as well as in the Lounge (upstairs). The free booze was downstairs, so that is where most people stayed. I mentioned in another post that I remember an electric piano, but as I recall, it was downstairs near the bar. Actually, like today, most passengers just kept to themselves; roamed around a bit and then went back to their seat.
Kerry Ahearn 2
Those are fun pictures and I like nostalgia, too, but I think I'll take the present, thanks: the safety record and the relatively cheap cost of tickets to far-off places. If the seat squeezes me perhaps I should modify my fanny . . .
Steven Richardson 1
These memories , the open spaces made flying a great experience ,bring them back due to nature the breed of people , overweight and height these conditions will suite, and make air travel a much better experience , notice how people took pride in themselves dress wise respect .
Richard Ampleman 1
My 1st flight on a 747 was St Louis to Lax. There was a piano bar in the area between 1st class and coach (no bussiness class then) sections and Eva Gabor entertained some of us while someone played the piano. Drinks for all of course.
I still recall dining at 36000 feet on Pan Am in the upper deck. They actually carved the roast right at your table. It was awesome. They would come around and invite you to go upstairs for supper.
ian kaye 1
wow the first time i went on a 747 was awesome enjoyed every miniute it was a virgin flight this was around 20 years ago impressed waas i loved the 747 ever since
CaptainFreedom 1
All it needs is a bowling alley.
Fred Rosa 1
I am sure I traveled in a 1970's era 747 that had an electronic piano next to the open bar(full size, open new yourself!) in First Class. Does anyone have a photo of that? Does anyone else remember a piano bar on these planes? I think I was flying ORD - SEA. Possibly Northwest or United? I am sure it rarely got used; the FA's certainly were not pounding out tunes.
Dee Lowry 1
Fred- I think it was Continental who had the "piano bar". United had a bar located in the "B" zone of. the coach cabin. No piano. And yes, those were the "golden years" and the 747 was and still is a beauty. Those were the days when flying was actually fun and exciting. I'm glad to have experienced that era of aviation.
Dan Scarborough 1
Flew to HNL Summer '75 on PA Clipper Flying Intrepid and got a visit to cockpit after landing. Good times
Frank Teltsch 1
I got a chance to fly on a Pan Am 747 crew familiarization flight out of JFK before the plane got its FAA certification. It really felt much more spacious than today's 747s do, For one thing, economy class seating was nine across, 3-3-3, which made a big difference. And the upper deck (up a spiral staircase) was a luxurious lounge. Those days didn't last very long!
Bernie20910 1
I was lucky enough to fly first class on a United 747 from JFK to LAX in late 1973. four months later I flew back to NY in coach on the exact same plane. Compared to today, coach back then was more comfortable than many airlines business class seating. I'll also say that a lot of the photos in that article were of mock ups, not actual cabins, and showed far more room than you actually had. My first class seat was pretty much the same as the 8th photo from the top and I remember the upper lounge as being similar to the 7th photo.
Antonio Di Stefano 1
Yes! I do remember my first fly on a 747 as a wonderful expereience. That was on June 28th 1972 on United 181 from San Francisco to first time to Honolulu too! A smooth comfortable 5 hours fly even in Economy!!! Since then I always preferred to fly 747's on long fly such as the North Atlantics one, crossed 23 times on -200 of United, Pan AM, Alitalia and BA, plus 38 times with the -400 of Lufthansa, Air France and United, Then the longhest one, 12hrs on LH D-ABVO from Frankfurt to Singapore.Always nice fly without feeling the turbolences that are unevoidable when you leave or approach the North Estern corner of the American Continent. And also I do remember the first time I visited the Boeing assembly line at Everett on March 1972 as a young enginer remaining astonished looking at the Jumbo from the shoop floor ( a shiining Continental one was in front of me) admiring the Boeing Organizations an Peoples in pushing out of the assembly line the aircraft without a kitch...A SALUTE TO BOEING!!!
Antonio Di Stefano Rosta Italy
Gary Paquette 1
Back in the '70s, I used to travel between PVD and MKE to college. On several occasions, I routed myself from BOS to ORD just to take a 747. It was worth the 90 mile drive to boston.
Richard Royal 1
The Golden Age ended when the girls stopped wearing those mini skirts :(
Shahram Faghfoori 1
i think it's still is.....!!! I flew an Iran Air 747-SP non-stop flight from THR to JFK in 70's. That was my first 747 experience and was awesome.....
Richard White 1
I used to fly Detroit to Boston on standby for $50 each way in the mid-70's when my father was dying from cancer. Pan Am had a flight from SFO to FRA with stops at DTW and BOS. The intermediate legs were pretty cheap. Helped me a lot at the time. The 747 was awesome. And everyone did dress up. No pajamas in those days.
Rufo Calvo 1
Use to fly the 747 every Summer between San Francisco and Guam via Honolulu when I was a child in the 70s. Loved how each cabin showed a different movie. I still have a pair of the pneumatic headphones with the Pan Am logo on it. Loved the Queen of the Skies!!
My first flight on a 747 was July 1972. I flew TWA flight 904 from Jfk to Madrid. In fact I still have a photo of the aircraft on my refrigerator. It was a series 100 and held 364 passengers and the flight was very smooth and service was great. I have flown since then on 747's from Quantas, United, Cathay Pacific and British Air. Nothing beats that first flight on 1972.
Ted Meberg 1
Pan Am flight in the summer of 1976, JFK to London Heathrow. My first international flight. I got a charter fare of $299 rt. Great meal, and the movie, "Murder By Death"
Kevin Edwards 1
Yeah they were the golden days,& so were the prices for tickets lol! Definitely a time when one needed to be @ least middle class.
robert albee 1
These are the pictures that instilled the dream of commercial flying as a child. Now I am old enough all the fun is all used up.
Check out Baltia Airlines at - a start up airline (Certification this coming April 2014?) flying the 747-200 on direct flights from JFK NY to St. Petersburg, Russia Gotta love those double deckers with the spiral staircase in the center......
PhotoFinish 1
Wow!! That's a route that often has soft (ie. low) fares. It's a tough route to try to make money. Guess it helps to use fully depreciated planes.
our family's first ever flight from India to Canada was on a LH-747 jumbo. It was a dream which came true. It was a comfortable journey due to high back chairs. For our further trips, we always preferred an airline which had jumbo fleet. LH had jumbos on both segments, not now.
I still prefer LH jumbo due to excellence in on board service.

HR Singh
we also prefer LH jumbos on our flight to India. Great airline great planes

Rani, Harry, Priya, Karan. sonia
Dennis Harper 1
And tickets were a form of currency that could be used with another major airline at anytime or at least most of the time.
PhotoFinish 1
Flying in F and J class today can be as spacious and luxurious as then.

The golden age, either never ended or is being repeated.
Never ended. Just takes more "gold". Lol
PhotoFinish 1

Actually, inflation-adjusted economy fares from back then in today's dollars I'd more expensive than J class today in most cases, and more expensive than F class in some cases. Though F can get pricey on some long-haul international flights. You could probably get an RV for less.

Reality is no where as bad as the perception.
Agreed. That's why back then not many people flew. Now everybody thinks they are entitled to fly but don't want to pay much. It is changing though since the government has allowed for a virtual monopoly run by a select few. Good news is, it will change again and again. Pay up suckers! Lol
preacher1 2
Saw the 1st 747's at ABQ in 69, when Pan Am had their flight training school for them down at Roswell and they would use the Sunport for a playground every now and then. After the new wore off, they closed Roswell. A friend of mine up here is a retired Pan Am driver and was a 707 Captain. He said his first ride in a 747 came when they set him down in the left seat with a check Captain in the right. He qualified and that was the extent of his training.
Elizabeth Robillard 1
My first 74 ride was on Pan Am LHR-LAX in '72. We sat in the tail and I marveled at the as the plane lumbered along the runway nose up and mains still on the ground.
I watched United train on their 47's at Salina Ks when I was stationed at Ft Riley in '69 & early '70. They looked like they were almost hovering on approach, like our helos. Biggest sobs I had ever seen in the sky.
preacher1 1
I never did know for sure, but somebody told me they could land, full stop, and take off again in 7200'. Don't know how true that was no load.
I don't doubt that since the difference between max gross and minimum fuel weight, no load is so huge. The power to weight to get 800k + pounds off on a normal runway length means great power and wings. Quite an airplane.
preacher1 1
You are correct on one thing, they were huge, and until the 380 came along so many years later, nothing else even came close.LOL
I bet if Tex was still around it would even barrel roll. Lol
Jackson Franco 1
OMG! As a gay man, I wish male flight attendants would be buff and handsome, wear tight pants and smell good!
Victor Engel 0
I've never flown on a wide body jet. Probably the biggest plane I've been on is a stretch DC-8.. I've always wanted to try a 747 lounge from the first time I saw a 747, which may have been the first PanAm 747 to land in Guatemala City. I think there were about 15,000 people watching it land that day.

What I don't understand about wide bodies is why all the seats are pointing forward. There's nothing to see in the center seats, so there's really no point in pointing them forward, unless there's a safety factor, but then wouldn't pointing them backward be better? I'm thinking that for optimal boarding and deboarding times, a better configuration would be sideways - think two rows back to back along the center line. The center line could include sleeping compartments.

[This poster has been suspended.]

Wayne Schuman 0
Fond memories of my first ride on a 747 in early 1971. Returning from our honeymoon in Jamaica, on a DC8 to Miami, where we had the thrill of flying to Chicago on a 747! Flight crew were wonderful, while airborne they gave us a tour upstairs including the flight deck. Absolutely mind boggling at the time! Then, from Chicago to Winnipeg, reality set back in having to fly a 727!!! How things have changed, unfortunately, not for the better!!!
Henry Bruneau Jr 0
The 747 was the "Queen" of the skies & still is & will always be. The A380 will never be able to compete against the "Queen". Still being made today.

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