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Old Nov 24, 01, 12:09 am   #1
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TWA First Class DEN-JFK 1972 - The Good Old Days

Howdy Folks

Whilst perusing the depths of the FlyerTalk trip reports, I must say how impressed I am by the detailed nature of many of the reports. Whether one has enjoyed the pleasures of First Class or not, one can certainly experience the service vicariously through the postings of such luminaries as tfung and Carfield, just to name two of the very best writers. Thanks, guys!

With the recent post 9/11 cutbacks in inflight meal service, both in First Class and Coach, I thought you might enjoy this menu from a TWA flight I flew between Denver and New York-JFK back in 1972. Although I traveled in Coach, I made sure to grab the First Class menu.

A number of you weren’t even born when this flight took place. This was a three hour and forty minute flight so consider when reading this that 9/11 related reductions notwithstanding, the cutbacks in meal service between 1972 and 2001 have been dramatic to say the least. The meal was lunch. This was a 12:00n departure out of Denver that continued on to Zurich from JFK.


TWA Flight 156
January 1st, 1972
Denver to New York-JFK
707-331B

TO START

ENCHILADA CON QUESO Y CHILES ROJO

A thin crepe filled with a lightly seasoned mixture of cottage and American cheeses… Topped with a colorful and zesty sauce flavored with beefstock, red peppers and tomatoes.

TOSSED GARDEN SALAD BOWL

An array of fresh, crisp garden greens consisting of romaine and Boston lettuce, endive, red cabbage and carrot slices. They are tossed with an assortment of special garnitures and served in an individual “Taiwan” bowl.

Your Choice Of

Herb flavored vinegar and oil or Roquefort Dressing



ENTRÉE SELECTIONS

CHATEAUBRIAND

The aristocrat of roasts… A double tenderloin of beef, selected from choice Midwestern steers. Cooked to your liking in TWA’s aircraft ovens and carved at tableside from the rolling cart. Served with Sauce Perigueux.

DOUBLE CUT LAMB CHOPS
From spring lamb, juicy double rib chops are cut and trimmed in the French manner and grilled to your liking… Rare… Medium… or Well Done.

CHICKEN BREAST PILGRIM STYLE
A partially boned Rock Cornish breast with a savory cranberry, celery and herb stuffing… Complimented by our New England Supreme sauce.

CHARBROILED SIRLOIN STEAK
Selected cuts from choice corn fed steers, cooked as you desire…
Topped with your choice of Lemon Parsley butter or Roquefort butter.


SWEET AND SOUR PRAWNS
Delicately sauteed jumbo shrimp artfully blended in a piquant sweet and sour pineapple sauce… Presented on a bed of fluffy rice.

Potatoes and Vegetables in season

Freshly baked Dinner Rolls and Breads

Creamery Butter



THE DESSERT CART

ICE CREAM SUNDAE

A special treat! Fancy French Vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate syrup or your favorite cordial… Kahlua, Galliano or Crème de Menthe… Sprinkled with chopped walnuts

HOT APPLE PIE
An American Favorite… Tangy apples baked in a flaky crust and served fresh from the oven with your choice of rich vanilla ice cream or a sharp cheddar cheese wedge.

Coffee, freshly brewed in flight

Tea

Dinner Mints



WINE AND CHAMPAGNE

Great Western Extra Dry New York State Champagne

Almaden Brut Champagne

Paul Masson Pinot Chardonnay

Ginestet Montagne Saint-Emilion 1969





Last edited by Seat 2A; Feb 2, 09 at 3:15 pm
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Old Nov 24, 01, 7:17 am   #2
  
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All I can say is WOW!
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Old Nov 24, 01, 7:54 am   #3
  
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Thanks for the post, and look in to the past. It would be interesting if we could somehow find a trip report from 1972? E.g. to describe how the check in, boarding, and in flight processes were similar or different? How about the people flying, and the airline employees? What was the fare structure, could you easily get an upgrade, and were there problems with fare rules and change fees back then? The menu sounds like international first class today, but perhaps better?
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Old Nov 24, 01, 8:40 am   #4
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I remember flying TWA nonstop MCI-PHL on a 707 back in 1980. The menu service wasn't quite as elaborate as the one posted above but lunch on the flight I took (coach) was generous nonetheless.

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Old Nov 24, 01, 9:00 am   #5
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">It would be interesting if we could somehow find a trip report from 1972? E.g. to describe how the check in, boarding, and in flight processes were similar or different? How about the people flying, and the airline employees? What was the fare structure ... </font>
I was pretty young in the '70s, so my memory is a bit cloudy and frankly, at age 7 I didn't know to be impressed by first class. (There's no way I would have liked the menu.) But among the things I recall:

- FAs who chatted with the passengers almost the entire flight.
- Connections where they would meet us at the stairway with a van and drive us on the ramp to the next plane.

As for fares, they were about double the cost of coach - none of this 6-10x the coach fare stuff. I suspect everyone bought their tickets then - we did - because there were no frequent flyer programs that I know of.
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Old Nov 24, 01, 10:41 am   #6
  
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it looks fab except for the wines. NY and Almaden "champagne" and a Saint-Emilion from one of the worst Bordeaux vintages of the century.

I bet they had to throw out a lot of food to accomodate all those menu choices.
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Old Nov 24, 01, 11:10 am   #7
  
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The biggest thing I remember about flying in the 70's was how polite everyone was. Of course, in relative dollars, a plane ticket was very expensive.

I was a college student then, but would NEVER have dreamed of flying in jeans and a T-shirt ( it just wasnt done) and yet here i am as a grown up flying FC in jeans.

Flying was considered an "experience", the stewardesses ( sorry but that is what they were called) were there to serve and it was a different world
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Old Nov 24, 01, 2:58 pm   #8
  
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Wow, what a great time capsule.

That menu goes to show how tastes have changed. Creme de Menthe and Galliano - those are liqueurs I remember my parents keeping around the bar in the '70s. A Galliano and vanilla ice cream sundae sounds nasty - licorice flavor - ugh.

And apple pie with a wedge of cheese on top - another one of those classic presentations one doesn't see much anymore.
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Old Nov 24, 01, 3:51 pm   #9
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Quote:
It would be interesting if we could somehow find a trip report from 1972? E.g. to describe how the check in, boarding, and in flight processes were similar or different? How about the people flying, and the airline employees? What was the fare structure, could you easily get an upgrade, and were there problems with fare rules and change fees back then? The menu sounds like international first class today, but perhaps better?
I think I can help you out there, jetsetter. One of the benefits of aging is that one can remember yesteryear like it was yesterday. Unfortunately, the reverse also holds true. Even so, though I am only 44, and was out late listening to a great band last night, I think I can still answer many of your questions with the help of strong coffee and Ginko Biloba.

Please bear in mind I am primarily addressing domestic service within the US as that was my experience throughout the seventies.

With regard to check-in, the biggest difference was that there were no special check-in areas for frequent flyers. First Class did have its own check in area. There were no frequent flyer programs back then. The pre-deregulation CAB would likely never have allowed them, or at least not until after an exhaustive decade long case study. (For the record, American’s Aadvantage program was the first FFP, starting sometime back in 1981 as I recall)

Upgrades? Maybe if Coach was overbooked, you'd get a freebie. Otherwise, you paid the difference between your fare and the First Class fare. I'm not aware of any exceptions to that rule. It was not uncommon for the First Class cabins to be only half full much of the time.

Boarding was pretty much the same as it is today ~ passengers needing assistance, traveling with children, etc. were boarded first followed by the rest of us in the usual order. At some airports, two jetways were used ~ one for First Class and one for Coach. Then again, at many small or medium sized airports like Des Moines or Reno, there simply were no jetways.

It’s also worth noting that boarding was a much quicker process back then as there was much less carry-on baggage. There wasn’t room for it. Many aircraft had not yet been outfitted with the new “Wide Bodied Interior” look that, amongst other things, incorporated slightly larger, enclosed overhead storage bins. Those that hadn't been retrofitted with the new bins offered essentially hat and coat racks.




Also, for you smokers out there, there was a smoking section and quite a large one at that. I even remember when the airlines used to offer cigarettes to passengers in these neat little cartons that had only four or five cigarettes in them. My mother, a confirmed Marlboro addict, loved those little cartons!

Once on board, there were a number of differences. Starting with the seats, they were heavier and incorporated more cushioning. Very comfortable in all classes. Escalating fuel prices forced the airlines to take a serious look at the weight of everything from seats to galleys and reduce their weights in an effort to reduce operating costs. Today’s Coach Class seats are flimsy by comparison. Also, seat pitch seemed better.

Some airlines, like Continental and United offered 5 across seating in Coach.




(CO offered this on all its narrow bodies whereas UA offered it only on DC-8-61 and –62 services used primarily on Trans-con and Hawaii services. (This seating arrangement was short-lived, lasting only three or four years, if that) Some of you may recall that DC-10s and L-1011s originally offered 8 across seating while 747s offered 9 across. The extra seat per row was added in the early eighties as deregulation’s lower fares demanded greater revenue through additional seats and the elimination of the lounges.

Lounges! This was, to me, the nicest part of flying in the seventies. As aircraft grew larger in the fifties, lounges, once the province of First Class only, began to make appearances in Coach Class. For example, DC-6s and 7s had a small seating area around a coffee table in the rear of the plane.







The introduction of jets in the late 1950s meant even more lounges as the aircraft cabins were substantially larger. Most carriers offered their First Class passengers lounges aboard their 707s, DC-8s, 880s and 990s.




Although most airlines had removed these from narrow bodied aircraft by 1970, United and Delta’s standard DC-8s had a First Class lounge that remained until these jets were retired in the early eighties.




United offered a small seating area around a table in the rear of its standard DC-8s for Coach passengers as well. For a short time in the early seventies, TWA offered a very nice lounge with a stand up bar on its 707s. This lounge was located in the middle of the aircraft and was, of course, available for all classes.

With the introduction of wide-bodied 747s, DC-10s and L-1011s in the early seventies, lounges evolved to unheard of size and attractions. Remember American’s piano bars? Uniteds roving guitarists? Continental’s 747s offered not only a Coach Lounge but an Economy Class lounge as well.




PSA’s L-1011s had a downstairs lounge! All U.S. carriers who operated the 747 (AA, BN, CO, DL, EA, NA, NW, PA, TW and UA) initially used the upstairs of their 747s as a First Class lounge. Delta even divided theirs in half and offered one of the halves as a private “penthouse” available by reservation only. With the exception of Delta, Northwest, National Airlines and Pan Am, all US carriers offered Coach lounges on their new widebodies. Seat space was generous and interior color schemes from seat fabrics to sidewalls were wildly colorful compared to today’s businesslike blues and greys.




Meals were generally of superior quality and portion size, particularly in Coach.




Almost all airlines offered hot meals at appropriate times on flights as short as an hour. I remember having excellent meals (by today’s standards) aboard Western Airlines (The Only Way To Fly!) on the 1 hour long flights between Denver and Salt Lake City. The nicest coach meal I ever had was on a 50 minute flight aboard CP Air between Watson Lake and Ft. Nelson, BC back in 1979. There was a choice of entrees served on china. United’s portions on their JFK-DEN lunch and dinner services were comparable to today’s First Class portions. Dessert was almost always a custard pie on those UA flights and salt and pepper came in their own little plastic shakers. On longer flights, menus were generally offered in Coach. For a short time, TWA advertised steak on all meal flights, even in Coach. Imagine a domestic airline using its food service as a marketing ploy today! I also have the Coach Class menu from TWA 156 and would be happy to post it if anybody’s interested. There were three entrees!

As to the people flying and the airline employees, jan_az addresses this quite nicely.

Quote:
Originally posted by jan_az:
The biggest thing I remember about flying in the 70's was how polite everyone was. Of course, in relative dollars, a plane ticket was very expensive.

I was a college student then, but would NEVER have dreamed of flying in jeans and a T-shirt (it just wasn’t done) and yet here i am as a grown up flying FC in jeans.

Flying was considered an "experience", the stewardesses (sorry but that is what they were called) were there to serve and it was a different world.
People were more polite back then. How times have changed! How society has changed! (I could expound on that too, but not on this site. See my diatribe in Psychology Today…)

By 1970 when 747s were introduced, jets had only been around for 12 years. There was still a great fascination with flight. Some of you may remember observation areas at major airports around America. They were often quite busy as many folks would come out to the airport just to see the new jets. When I was a kid, we always dressed up to get on an airplane. Jan’s right. It was an event! We honored the event by dressing appropriately. At least, that’s how it was looked at back then. I think it’s also worth noting that for so many years only the rich could afford to travel. When these people went out into public, they dressed well. In general, dressing well when you went out into public was just how things were done regardless of your bank account. By extension, on an airplane, whether you were rich or poor it was generally expected that you dress nicely.

I didn’t grow up with a lot of money. We always flew Coach Class but we dressed nicely. I still do today. I may have the beard and the hair and you may have seen me partying at a ‘Cheese show last week looking appropriately scruffy but when I fly, particularly in First Class, I wear a button down shirt and a sports jacket. Perhaps I’m a traditionalist but I love flying, always have and as such I honor the experience and ambience by dressing a bit nicer, particularly in First Class. What most people don’t know is that I bought that Oxford shirt and tweed jacket over at Value Village for about $15.00 combined. Don’t laugh – there’s some good stuff amongst them rags at thrift shops. I always wear clean jeans mainly because I don't own any other type of pants. I’ll wear nice, but casual shoes. No tie. And hey, I’m comfortably dressed, too. One thing I can’t imagine is wearing an expensive suit on board, especially on a long flight. (By the way, for those of you T-Shirt and dungarees flyers, you won’t find me thumbing my nose at you. Times have changed but I’m not gonna get stressed over something that trivial.)

Waitresses have become “Servers”, Garbagemen have become “Sanitation Engineers” and Stewardesses have become “Flight Attendants”. Call ‘em what you will but it seems personalized, caring service in flight has been replaced by being “attended to in flight”. Society has changed since the seventies. Service as we understood it back then has changed as a result. At least in America. Fly any US carrier internationally and compare its service in any class to most any major international carrier and you will appreciate the difference between being “served” as opposed to being “attended to”. As the FAs so often say in their pre-flight announcements these days, their primary concern on the flight is our safety. Actual service is secondary. As long as we accept this type of approach, not only inflight but in all aspects of our day to day lives, it won’t get any better. But I digress… back to flying…

The Civil Aeronautics Board oversaw air fares and route awards up until October 1978. Airlines had to apply for fare increases (and decreases!) as well as new routes. The CAB was a typically slow government bureaucracy and these applications could take weeks, months or even years to be resolved. As such, there weren’t as many different fares. What fares there were were much simpler though comparatively more expensive as well. The usual fares offered were:

F…First Class
Y…Coach Class
K…Economy Class (Same seating as Y class but usually about $10.00 less. No meal.)
FN..First Class Night (Pay the day coach fare, sit up front at night)
YN..Night Coach (Discounted fare for nighttime departures, usually after 9:00pm)
U…Stand by
YM.Military

Not all airlines offered Economy class, and those that did didn’t always offer it on all routes. The same held true for Stand By fares. Generally, there were no change penalties and all of these fares were fully refundable.

There were a variety of APEX fares (Advance Purchase Excursion) available, incorporating the usual parameters seen in today’s round trip fares. There just weren’t as many of them.

So jetsetter and the rest of you who may have wondered about those halcyon days of domestic air travel, I hope I’ve answered most of your questions. Although many international carriers have refined their First Class product into something vastly superior to that offered in the seventies, domestically every aspect of flying in either First Class or Coach was generally much better back then. They weren’t perfect, but for me, they were the very best of times inflight.

Last edited by Seat 2A; Mar 21, 14 at 3:15 pm
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Old Nov 24, 01, 4:14 pm   #10
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Oops!


[This message has been edited by Seat 2A (edited 11-24-2001).]
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Old Nov 24, 01, 5:15 pm   #11
  
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Great information, Seat2A!!

One additional bit of trivia from the back recesses of my mind ... Back in those days airline clubs were no-charge, by invitation only. Airlines would give memberships to big customers, celebrities, etc. Ralph Nader sued the airlines, claiming that since fares were regulated, non-members were subsidizing the cost of the clubs. He won, and the airlines opened membership to anyone, but instituted the fees.
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Old Nov 24, 01, 7:05 pm   #12
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really interesting stuff!

The big story of course is the democratization of air travel.

The same thing that happened to long distance. Remember when calling someone long distance was a rare event? Now we are all messaging each other and using FT.

Inevitably, as something becomes open to everyone by definition it goes from being exclusive to being the mean.

Even the terrible villains of 9/11 won't set things back too much. So I enjoy these stories of yesteryear but am glad that it is so inexpensive and easy today.
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Old Nov 25, 01, 10:10 am   #13
  
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Great post, Seat 2A.

I remember the lounges in DC-8s as late as 1978. I flew LAX-BWI on a UA DC-8 in July of '78 (I was 14). United had what it called "Ocean to Ocean" service on its transcon routes then. I remember a menu and what I ate, which was steak and shrimp. Not bad for Y. The inflight movie was Mel Brooks' "High Anxiety."

I also remember the fare my parents paid: $352 R/T, which was the lowest available. Not cheap in 1978 dollars; not even cheap by 2001 standards. Deregulation has made a huge difference in the airline industry.
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Old Nov 25, 01, 10:52 am   #14
  
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What a great subject!

The funny thing is that so many people complained about it! Despite the unspeakable luxuries of better seats, lounges, and meals, I can remember everyone whining about the food, the size of the bathrooms, and the uncomfortable seats.

I think that many of the luxuries were limited to North America. I can remember my folks discussing how El Al sold the jump seats in order to cram more passengers aboard. SAS was described to me as, "Like fulfilling some sort of civil service requirement." And one didn't fly BOAC/BA unless it was absolutely necessary.
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Old Nov 25, 01, 1:10 pm   #15
  
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Excellent stuff, Seat 2A. A few recollections:

Seat assignment was done at the gate. There was a chart of the airplane seats, with each seat represented by a sticky-thing with the seat number. If you wanted 12C, the gate agent removed the 12C sticky from the chart and pasted it onto your boarding card.

There was no security as we know it today: No metal detectors or carry-on X-Ray--just get on the plane and go.

The Eastern shuttle between New York and Boston or Washington was unique: there were no reservations, and you could buy your ticket on the plane. Instead of a beverage or meal cart, the stewardesses or stewards would come down the aisle and collect your fare.

The most significant difference, for these readers at least, between then (70s) and now: No frequent flyer programs in the 70s!!!


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