We all like to complain about air travel these days, what with the reduced leg room, lack of meal service, cranky flight attendants, security hassles and constant nickle-and-diming. Today’s consumers definitely have some legitimate gripes, especially when compared to the glamorous “golden age” of air travel of the 1950s and ’60s. But were things really all that great back in the vintage days of commercial aviation? Let’s take a look back through time to do a reality check on what was really going on up in the air, and highlight some of the good and bad aspects of this often glorified era.
1. Flying Was Crazy Expensive
Before you start complaining about Ryanair and EasyJet, remember that back in the 1950s and ’60s, an airline ticket was significantly more costly than today’s flights. For example, a 1955 round-trip ticket from Chicago to Phoenix on TWA cost $138, which, adjusted for inflation, equates to $1,168 today. However, factoring average salaries in the ’50s compared to now, what costs about 1 per cent of an annual income today used to amount to 5 per cent of an annual income then. Would you really want to go back to a time when a short flight could put you back a month’s salary?