Pulling the Plug: Final Thoughts

Old Nov 21, 2022, 8:06 pm
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Originally Posted by RIP-PSA

I love that you still have the same haircut!
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Old Nov 21, 2022, 8:11 pm
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Best wishes for a wonderful 2nd retirement. And may you have many adventures of your choice that bring you wonderful memories! Cheers!
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Old Nov 21, 2022, 8:14 pm
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This thread makes me proud to have flown in my life.
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Old Nov 21, 2022, 8:39 pm
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Terrific post - thanks so much for sharing!

Brings back memories good and crazy and a reminder why I've missed flying so much. May your future be replete with more airborne adventures!
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Old Nov 21, 2022, 11:29 pm
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Congrats. Though I am jealous -- when I passed 2MM (1MM on NW, 1MM on DL) I didn't even get a thank you from the FA.

I used to fly PSA (and loved them). When the first thing USAir did was paint over the smiles on the planes, I knew it would never be the same.
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Old Nov 22, 2022, 3:49 am
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Amazing post!!
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Old Nov 22, 2022, 5:31 am
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Originally Posted by RIP-PSA
I was a journalist for several major news organizations. My first flight at age 4 was LAX-SAN on a PSA Lockheed L-188 Electra.
I think the loss of curtains was the beginning of the end of civilized passenger aviation. The tradeoff between gentility and fire hazard was reasonable.
I remember the sole snack on this flight was pink wintergreen mints -- still an addiction -- and my dad bought a Mutual of Omaha life insurance policy at the airport. Ah, the good old days.

PSA Lockheed L-188 Electra in 1959. I still get the same expression on my face when I fly.
I never come to this Forum - and today I am so glad that I have. I enjoyed your stories immensely and would have loved to have had you aboard one of my Flights. I remember those days well. People have no real idea what First Class or indeed Economy was from those day. I started flying for BCAL far too long ago to wish to recall. My Mother would not hear of me being a Stewardess as we were back then. She considered a menial job and insisted that I have a profession. I went and studied to become a Nurse, and then with her half-hearted consent went and applied to Air France, BA, and BCAL. BA considered me and rejected me. I went on interview to Air France and was seen by some the haughtiest and snotiest old skyhags that were no longer eligible to fly. I mention this as I laughed my head off to read about the Air France/Alitalia fiasco. It was not wonder that AZ went west with that sort of management. and the attitude of Air France is them at their worst.

Yes - I flew several times with Northwest Orient - mostly on positioning flights when we had technical problems and needed crew elsewhere. A friend of mine was hired after she retired from BA to work as a Senior Crew Instructor - she told me a lot about it. Did the book Airport have anything to do with insurance being sold at airports in the US I wonder?

So now you, like me, are hanging up your wings. I am so glad that I worked at a time when you were not ashamed to see what horrors were coming out of the galley or be skimped back with more cost savings. I am glad to have flown when people did not come aboard dressed as thought they were Walmartians, did not put their feet - shod or otherwise on the bulkhead wall or even on the seat in front - did not change into their inflight pyjamas and expect the crew to wash their underwear (I am not making this up) - in short when people acted and behaved like ladies and gentlemen as my Mum would have said. I do not think that the removal of curtains was the end of civilisation - I would argue the overhead bins - they are and were the bain of every crew member's life. How many backs have been injured when people brought their entire wordly goods and chattels aboard?

Have a wonderful retirement and do everything that you want to do - life is so precious and so unpredictable. However, as the dear litlle boy in the picture looks a little afraid, I suspect that you have a slightly different expression now.

Au Revoir
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Old Nov 22, 2022, 7:07 am
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Many thanks for the kind words. Every time I flew with AZ was an adventure, and not in a good way -- a French pal of mine pointed out that that their problems ran the gamut from A to Z.

Good point about overhead baggage bins. I generally avoid the aisle because several times I've had bags dropped on my head, which cannot possibly be healthy.

I grew up near SNA where my dad earned his PPL in the late 1940s and where the famous aviation cinema team of Paul Mantz and Frank Tallman were based, with their converted B-25s and A-26 fleet. Tallmantz Aviation had an aviation museum at SNA -- now long gone, sadly -- and I used to wander through it for hours. That's how I got the flying bug. When I was maybe 11 or 12 years old a guy at the museum offered me a ride in his helicopter, and my dad tried to talk me into it -- I was pretty shy in those days, so I declined.

It was Frank Tallman. He was later killed when he flew into a mountainside not far from our house. The departure of Tallmantz from SNA was a cultural shock to me, perhaps only approached when Orange County renamed the airport after John Wayne -- who not only didn't like to fly but often complained about the noise of SNA takeoffs. Politicians should be banned from naming airports.

Apropos nothing, I once tried to find the location of Dutch Flats, the dirt strip where Charles Lindbergh first tested the Spirit of St. Louis trans-Atlantic monoplane. San Diego has changed a lot since 1927, of course, and Ryan Aircraft is long gone. But after consulting historic records and driving around for a few hours, I found Dutch Flats; there is now a See's Candy Store there. About 10 years later, two plaques were placed around the corner on the approximate location, but the city has shown no interest in marking the spot. Lesson: American elected officials like airports, but not necessarily aviation.

Thus the average passenger experience at most municipally owned U.S. airports is akin to a hospital emergency room on a Saturday night, and this carries over to onboard behavior. The fact that at the better airlines, a highly trained aircrew and meticulously maintained equipment has led to exactly two aviation-related passenger deaths within the United States in the past decade seems lost on some people.

You never know how people get the flying bug, but I've never lost the joy of watching the world pass a few miles below. People who close the window shades so that they can watch a one-star direct-to-video movie on a 6-inch seat-back screen are missing a great show outside the window.
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Old Nov 22, 2022, 8:11 am
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Wonderful perspective. Thank you!
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Old Nov 22, 2022, 8:18 am
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Originally Posted by RIP-PSA
... You never know how people get the flying bug, but I've never lost the joy of watching the world pass a few miles below. People who close the window shades so that they can watch a one-star direct-to-video movie on a 6-inch seat-back screen are missing a great show outside the window.
there are still a few of us extant ... yes the scenic views (cloud formations, geographic features with and without snow and ice, trying to figure out where you are from them, etc) can be impressive, but watching the Aurora Borealis the entire length of Montana for the better part of two hours was a spectacular experience
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Old Nov 22, 2022, 8:19 am
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Wonderful tales. Thanks and all the best!
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Old Nov 22, 2022, 8:58 am
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Wow thank you for sharing your incredible stories! But now I feel like I have not flown enough at all 😂 Happy retirement 👍
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Old Nov 22, 2022, 9:15 am
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Originally Posted by RIP-PSA
With my second retirement looming next year and only one more trip for my employer, a few thoughts after 2.3 million miles on Delta, nearly a million on BA, a ton of forgettable trips on the late, unlamented US Air, and sundry journeys on Tajik, Albanian, Aeroflot, Ariana Afghan, Kenya, Iraqi, Air India, and the like:

1) I never cared what I was fed in bizclass. All I wanted to do was sleep and work, in that order. But for what it's worth, my best bizclass meals were back when Delta served soup as a main course. It hydrated and warmed me, and helped me sleep. I still miss it. (Aeroflot domestic meals in the 1990s were best described as "slopping the hogs," and surely allowed them to retire the trophy as the most consistently nauseous cabin service in civil aviation history.)

2) I've had some scary flights, including an aborted takeoff in Sharjah, a food service cart strapped to the emergency exit handle in Albania, and nape-of-the-earth flying in a BA 747 to avoid antiaircraft missiles during the Gulf War. But the scariest was when I boarded a US Air flight at the old Pittsburgh hub and my seat did not have a back; the flight crews dispatched a maintenance tech to the sold-out flight, and he unhelpfully suggested that I might lean forward during takeoff and landing. That was how my last-ever US Air flight ended storming off the plane in disgust and heading to a DL customer service rep.

3) I still miss two airlines: PSA and Northwest Orient. If you ever flew either of them, you know why.

4) I once flew as the lone passenger on an AA flight to Port-au-Prince from MIA; it was the last flight in before they suspended service during one of the many 1990s Haitian crises. The crew was terrific, and I got all the food I wanted.

5) My best move was abandoning the AA-BA alliance and taking my Pan Am miles to Delta. Never regretted it. They don't always make strategic decisions that I like, but they have never stranded me or left me wishing I had ridden a bicycle instead of flying.

6) Say what you will about about the old Sabena, but they were the source of my most memorable flight. They were partners with DL, and they had a New Year's special package via Delta travel: JFK-BRU outbound Christmas Day, return New Year's Eve Two person with hotel, total cost $500 per person. I pounced and took my 12-year-old son. On the return, Sabena had brand-new aircraft, and since it was New Year's Eve, there would be free Champagne. What they didn't say was that it would be served each time we crossed westbound into a time zone where we would be flying when midnight local time passed. Thanks to the Great Circle Route, an 11 p.m. departure and winter headwinds, we experienced four New Year celebrations, cheerfully announced by the pilot.

My 12-year-old got a little jigger of Champagne for each celebration. Hey, Belgians look at wine differently that we New World colonials.

7) Never check a bag at ORD. Ever. And fly out of Midway instead. Better, take the train from NYC.

8) But my most memorable moment was on the ground. Maybe a decade ago I hit 2 million miles on a JFK-MEX flight, and before I boarded I was feted with a bottle of wine and other goodies, presented by the station manager, pilot in command and DL customer service rep.

When we landed at MEX, the flight attendant said the pilot wanted me to wait on board, so I did. After everyone disembarked (I hate the term "deplaned") the pilot asked me to follow him. We walked past the very long lines at immigration, and at the crew station each member flashed their IDs. When it was my turn, the immigration agent had her hand out for my ID and instead all I had was my passport. The crew all together pointed to me and said, "He's an airline official." Immigration stamped my visa and away I went!

Too cool. Like I said, never regretted switching to Delta.

9) Did I mention that no one should check bags at ORD?

10) The one moment when I questioned whether flying was to best mode of transportation: I had just taken Air India from KBL to DEL and grabbed a newspaper to read in the taxi to the hotel. On the front page: A dozen or so Air India pilots were caught with counterfeit pilot licenses. (For the record, my onward flight to Milan was on Jet Airways,)

11) My most annoying moment: I was in Italy for a meeting and about to head home when the office called and changed my flight to MXP-CDG-KWI, via Alitalia and Air France. At MXP I boarded Alitalia on a ticket issued via American Express, but when I got to CDG, an AF agent was waiting: How was I able to board? I showed her my boarding pass, but she explained that no one ever paid for the ticket. Alitalia had issued me a boarding pass with no ticket!

The AF agent marched me off to their AF FTO and I was presented with the sole option of a 10,000 euro ticket for CDG-KWI-JFK with the only flight leaving in one hour. I called Amex and they swore the original ticket had been paid and issued -- they even had an Alitalia ticket number. Then to make matters worse, the FTO agent said that I had to pay a 100 euro penalty because I was buying the ticket at the airport! I simply refused to pay the lousy 100 euros, and the AF "customer service" rep stood her ground. They finally shaved 100 euros off the ticket price so that they could still charge me the penalty.


I was so pissed off that when I got to KWI I made a beeline for Emirates' CTO and bought a one-way bizclass ticket to JFK for just $1,500, a Ramadan special fare.

When I got back to NYC, AF told me that the 10,000-euro ticket was non refundable!

I threw the problem to Amex, my company's longstanding travel agent, who several months later got AF to refund the ticket by threatening to blackball them.

Adios, traveling for work. I won't miss it. From now on, I fly for me.

The perfect day: 2 million miles and great flight to MEX.
wow! On my 2MM flight ATL-PHL, all I got was a whispered congratulations on making 2MM Mr. JimRPA. No othe acknowledgement from crew, anyone at either station, etc. Oh well. At least Marriott sent me luggage tags, which is more than I can say for Delta! The last time I got luggage tags from them was about 5 years ago 🙄
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Old Nov 22, 2022, 10:08 am
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Originally Posted by jrl767
there are still a few of us extant ... yes the scenic views (cloud formations, geographic features with and without snow and ice, trying to figure out where you are from them, etc) can be impressive, but watching the Aurora Borealis the entire length of Montana for the better part of two hours was a spectacular experience
OR Comet Hale-Bopp out my window flying near midnight ATL-CLT
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Old Nov 22, 2022, 11:57 am
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awesome post. Triggers all sorts of (mainly good) memories. Enjoy your next phase of your life - and there will always be FT when you need a reminder why it was a good thing to not have to travel all the time ;-)
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