There's practically nothing friendly about air travel these days.
Air travel chaos is commonplace in 2022. Airlines keep canceling flights (more than 1,500 cancellations on Friday) and flight attendants are saying their air travel situation is "unsustainable."
Airlines desperately need more pilots, air traffic controllers, flight crews, and ground crews.
It wasn't always like this. I remember the Golden Age of Flying - the 50s through the 70s - when air travel was as a special experience.
It was the dawn of the jet age, issued in by de Havilland Comet, the Boeing 707 and the Douglas DC-8.
Air travel during those years was something special. Airlines were marketing their flights as luxurious because they were in direct competition with cruise liners.
Try to imagine some of the following amenities:
(Photo by Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
There was caviar served from ice sculptures and an endless flow of champagne! All included with the air fare.
People actually dressed up and stewardesses wore haute couture uniforms. And there was a lot more space: seat pitch - that's the distance between seats on the aircraft was 36 to 40 inches. Now it's down to 28 as airlines try to cram more passengers in their jets.
If you flew in one of the jumbo jets, there was a spiral staircase that led up to the top deck which was a cocktail lounge.
The airline most often associated with the golden age of travel is Pan Am, the first operator of the Boeing 707 and 747 and the industry leader on transoceanic routes at the time.
I went to and came home from Vietnam on a Boeing 707 in 1970. By that time planes had morphed into an economic way to travel without any luxuries. Still, I remember my awe at having air-conditioning on the way back to the states.
The thing about nostalgia is one tends to forget about the bad things and tends to center in on precious memories.
In all fairness the skies were deadlier because of the number of mechanical malfunctions and hijackings. Yes, hijackings! There were 50 in 1969 alone. Fortunately, the industry has advanced in safety measures today and hijackings are a rarity.
Nevertheless, nostalgia for the period abounds, and Pan Am (which folded in 1991) in particular is still remembered fondly as the pinnacle of the air travel experience.