The Glory Days of Flying
In the last 12 months, I have done more flying than I have done in years. I also realize that my son is now at the same age as I was when I started to fly frequently. This made me recall the differences between now and when I flew as a child.
I remember when the airlines gave you a choice of hot meals. (They weren’t perfect, but they filled a need – and your belly). I remember when the ‘meal’ became a skimpy deli sandwich. Now, you’re lucky if you get a chance to buy overpriced crackers and beef jerky. Or pack a picnic meal.
I remember when the biggest worry in flying was that they’d run out of your choice of meals. Now you have to worry that some disgruntled person is looking to turn the plane into a missile. Or blow up his underwear.
I remember when you didn’t have to take off your shoes to pass through security.
I remember when security didn’t require you to submit to the “porno scanners” or to genital groping.
I remember when your friends and family could meet you at the gate.
I remember when it didn’t cost extra to check a suitcase.
I remember when carry-on liquids weren’t limited to a 1-quart zip-top bag with 100 ml bottles.
I remember when you could bring your own soft drink past security. Now we have the privilege of paying $3 for a bottle of water.
I remember when my parents and grandparents made my brother and me wear a jacket and tie when we flew. Now you’re lucky if the person next to you took a shower that day.
I remember when the pilot used to welcome children into the cockpit during the flight. (I vividly remember seeing the coast of Canada from the cockpit during a return flight from Europe).
I remember when kids could get a set of pilot ‘wings’ to wear. And you could get a deck of playing cards, just for asking.
I remember when the airline employees treated coach passengers with dignity and respect.
I remember when the airlines gave you a boarding pass. Now I get to waste paper and ink printing them at home – with a page full of ink-wasting advertisements! (Unless I remember to find the tiny link that lets me print without ads).
I remember when the airports were staffed with helpful airline personnel. Now you get an electronic kiosk and a phone to a central reservation desk.
I fear that when my son grows up, he’ll look back fondly on the glory days of flying – from the year 2010. Unless I can afford to fly by private jet – which doesn’t seem likely.