How Have Airlines Changed since the 1960s?

Airlines love to underscore their particular comforts, such as extra leg room or in-flight movies, but nothing today compares with what some men enjoyed on selected United Airlines flights between 1953 and 1970. For any fellow looking for a relaxing trip from New York or Chicago to Los Angeles or San Francisco, United offered its men-only "Executive" service, at 5 p.m. every day except Saturday. The flights included steak dinners, cigars (yes, you could smoke on planes back then), slippers, and other comforts, but did not allow women or children onboard. Other perks included a teletype service to catch up on the latest business news and a message service that allowed businessmen to send a last-minute note to the office.

A change in the air:

  • The Wright Brothers flew approximately 120 feet (37 m) in 1903; today, a Boeing 787 can fly 10,000 miles (16,093 km) without stopping to refuel.

  • American Airlines removed a single olive from all first-class dinner salads in 1987, saving $40,000 USD.

  • Most airlines require pilots and co-pilots to eat different meals to minimize the risk of both getting food poisoning.

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