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Pan Am TV Show in the Works

by on February 28, 2011 · 9 comments

in American, Travel Industry

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I generally don’t watch much TV, mostly because I travel all  the time and my DVR queue gets so backlogged I don’t know where I left off.  However, this is a show I may actually watch: A new pilot about the golden days of flying on Pan Am – back when air travel was sexy. It definitely sounds interesting, especially because I never got a chance to fly Pan Am because they went under when I was 8 years old.

I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to fly back when people got dressed up – even in coach – and airlines took pride in their product. I flew American Airlines first class from San Francisco to NY last night and I was blown away at the cheapness of their lounge. I had to beg to get free wifi (apparently its only free for Admirals Club members) and couldn’t believe they sell bags of potato chips for $2.50. So much for a luxurious experience, but I understand it’s not just American who has cut back on amenities – even for premium class travelers.

That being said, air travel is much more accessible than it was in the past and relatively cheaper so I guess I shouldn’t yearn for “the good old days.” Especially since, back then, I doubt you could get 75,000 miles just for signing up for a credit card!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Doug

    Ha! I flew Pan Am when I was 13 (1985?) returning from Europe and I don’t remember it being anything special, aside from the fact that I was on a very long plane ride from Europe which itself is pretty exciting when you are 13. That said, back in the days of regulated or just barely deregulated air fares I do recall a few perks, again from a kid’s perspective. For one thing, the kid’s meals on United were super cool and came inside a cigar box, loaded with all kinds of cool activities, wing pin, etc. Also, you could usually get a free deck of cards.

    As another example of how different things were, I once took a flight on Continental maybe the year before and there was a whole cabin in COACH class that was cleared out to make room for a walk-up bar, with its own unassigned seating for visitors to the bar. Not so much these days.

  • Doug

    But the people who really made the most of that era were travel agents, a profession that basically no longer exists. My grandmother was one, and she traveled almost monthly to exotic locales, always staying in first-class hotels and cruises because they would sponsor her on “familiarization” trips nearly free of charge. What a racket.

  • tassojunior

    Delta may be cringing at this if they tell how Delta refused to buy PanAm outright but instead bought only the routes and therefore nullified all Pan Am employees’ pensions. Those wonderful PanAm employees have a miserable retirement thanks to Delta. Shame.

    I too remember the old CO jumbos that had a bar area with sofas for coach to Hawaii!

  • Brian

    I have two very personal memories of Pan Am.

    1. In 1968, at 10 years of age, my Sister lost her best friend when a Pan Am 707 crashed while landing in a monsoon at “Dum Dum” airport in Calcutta, India. She was one of 5 people killed in the crash, and we had driven to SFO two days prior to see her off. She was the daughter of missionaries returning back to India after a year’s furlough in the states.

    http://www.panamair.org/accidents/accidents.htm

    “Clipper ??? 12/6/1968 Boeing B-707-321C (N798PA)
    Location: Calcutta, India
    63 Aboard / 5 Fatal
    Struck a tree 1128m short of the Calcutta runway during a visual approach in rainy weather.”

    2. Ten years later, 1978, I’m one of those Travel Agents Doug referenced above, albeit a young & inexperienced one at 20 years of age. My first agent’s “fam trip” was from SFO to LHR aboard a Pan Am 747 jumbo. There were approximately 20 TAs in the group and there were 6 open seats in First Class. We all drew straws for those precious few First Class seats and yours truly was one of the lucky ones. It was a flight I’ll never forget…..

    Very much looking forward to the Pan Am TV show…..

  • Joseph Brignolo

    The last Pan Am flight I took (1981) was on the China Clipper a 747 SP designed for long flights. I was on my way to Sinapore for business and I flew from JFK to SFO then boarded the Clipper for Hong Kong. It took 18 hours, and I was in First Class. The service was impeccable, the food was 4 star, the environment was plush; and the time flew by. I miss that in air travel. I miss the respect we as passengers had for that privilage. Yes, I used to dress up for air travel, and still do to some extent. I will not wear jeans, shorts, or tee shirts.

    Now, having said all that: My return trip from Singapore was on Singapore Air. First Class. As much as I was impressed with the Pan Am First Class service, the SA trip far exceeded my Pan Am experience.

  • http://www.longwayhome.com Ed Dover

    If you think that Pan Am in the 60′s was the epitome of high class air travel, you need to go back a few more years. When I was 18 years old I went to work for the REAL Pan Am in 1942 (yes, I am now 87). It was on board the original “China Clippers”: The Martin M-130 and the Boeing B-314 flying boats. To get a glimpse of what luxury airline service was really like, take a look at the interior photos of the B-314 displayed on the “Aircraft” link on my web site. Especially the way they served meals and the comfortable seating arrangements. The old flying boats were slow, but they have never been surpassed for the luxury service they provided. They represent the real “Golden Age” of commercial air transport. Ed Dover. http://www.longwayhome.com.

  • http://www.CaptainBillRealty.com Bill Travis

    I went to work as a pilot for Pan Am in 1966, where I was based in SFO flying the Pacific and around the world flights. Then in 1981 I transferred to NYC (commuted from SFO) to fly the Airbus A310 on the Atlantic routes. I was among the first group of pilots to fly the Atlantic in a 2-engine jet. Being accustomed to having 4 engines on the wings, it was a bit uncomfortable with only 2 engines out there for awhile.

    When Delta bought the Atlantic routes in about 1991 they needed a turnkey system because they didn’t have any pilots qualified on the A310. So most all of us who were on the A310 went with Delta in that route purchase. I retired with a medical issue one year after going with Delta.

    If the Pan Am show airs, I hope they will show some of the humanitarian deeds that Pan Am, it’s flight crews and employees performed over the years. Unfortunately, the Real Pan Am would probably be boring for today’s audience, so I suppose it’s going to be a sex type soap.

    Sometime in the 1970′s there was an earthquake in Guatamala. I volunteered along with the rest of the crew to fly for free to deliver supplies from San Francisco to Guatamala. Pan Am donated the airplane and the supplies.

    From 1966 until the end of the Vietnam war I flew many flights out of Saigon, Danang, and Cam Ranh Bay to take our GI’s to places like Hong Kong, Manila, Sydney, and Bangkok for R&R. Of course we got paid, but we also got shot at going into the Vietnamese airports. On occasion we would find a small arms bullet home in the bottom of the aircraft. Fortunately, no aircraft was ever seriously damaged by the small arms fire.

    There was an esprit de corp attitude among all the Pan Am employees. Everyone took pride in working for what we felt was the greatest airline in the world. It was sad through the years to see Pan Am getting broken up piece by piece starting with the selling of Pan Am’s profitable international hotel chain. Among the hotels we owned was the famous Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco.

    One of the highlights of my career was meeting Charles Lindbergh. He served on the Pan Am Board of Directors for many years; and a few years before his death we had the pleasure of having him on board on our flight from Fairbanks to Tokyo. He came to the cockpit and talked to us for about 30 minutes telling us he was on his way to Jakarta to work on some route structures. He helped pioneer many of Pan Am’s international routes.

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  • Nish

    Hi Brian,

    I am looking for some details on this flight, When I was 2/3 years old I used to cry every time plane go by calling a Specific name (Details to be provided later) I was killed in a plane crash in
    his previous life. After some research he thinks this crash is the one.

    If you get this message please email me [email protected]

    Thanks

    Nish

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