The Groovy Age of Travel #6: Why We Complain

Airline security, seventies style

Ever asked yourself why people are getting so upset about the recent airline security business? Does it seem a little petty - maybe a bit whiny? I mean, they're just trying to look out for our safety right?

I think it may have more to do with overall shitty experience of flying than any moral stance against full body scans.  Once upon a time, you could smoke on planes (they had little ashtrays in the armrests), they served you a full meal, and the stewardesses were hot.  There was a fear of hijacking during the seventies, but overall it was nothing compared to the shared misery of today.

This full body scan is like salt on our wounds.  The airlines overbook flights; so, you're forever in danger of being left behind waving goodbye to the airplane you should have been on.  You stand in long lines to get your boarding pass, get charged for carry on luggage, then wait in line again (with no shoes on) to get to your gate. Once you rush to get there, you find your flight has been delayed.  AAARRGH!  No wonder we're not so understanding about yet another layer to the shit sandwich that is airline travel.

The new "Friskem" device for airports.  Look, she's got a knife tucked in her hotpants!


  1. I remember trying to stuff gum, wrappers, and assorted detritus into those ashtrays! Or opening and shutting them *endlessly* tink-tink-tink. Flying in the 70s as a kid, got to meet the pilot, flight attendant gave me a nifty pair of wings and told me I was the assistant. Smell of cigarettes, *three* classes of airline seats, little TV type dinner served. Everyone in suit jackets and skirts, mom telling me I *had* to wear a dress on the plane.

    I have no recollection of any security measures, not even of walking through a scanner. There must have been *some*, right?

  2. I think it's funny, that if you compared the look of most people as the get off a plane - stressed, disheveled, tired, hunched over - and you compared it with a family getting out of their car after driving a 1000 miles to their favorite vacation spot, that the 2 groups would look oddly similar. Flying just gets you to that state faster.

    Regarding that image above: Find 'em, frisk 'em, fly 'em, forget 'em!
    Great post!

  3. As business abandons plane travel for teleconferencing/virtual meetings, airline travel will get more and more expensive. Soon, only the rich will be able to afford to travel, and they will more and more travel by private jet. Commercial airlines are doomed.

  4. You've nailed it. That was flying commercial in the 70s.

    But I can remember a flight in I guess 1959 from Honolulu to Oakland that was probably one of the worst I ever was on.

    This one started from Honolulu on a rickety something, 2 seats on each side. My seat was broken and it kept going back on the old man behind me. He was probably in his 40s, but he looked ancient to my kid eyes. He kept shoving my seatback forward the whole trip. I also remember the stewardess disappearing into the cockpit, which merely had a curtain, then appearing a bit later with her blouse partially sticking out of her skirt. I thought that pretty odd. Then there were the powdered scrambled eggs which still bring a lump in my throat at the mere thought. When I looked out the window and saw land I turned to my mother and said, "Well, if we go down now we can swim to California." I had a lot of confidence in the plane and crew. I also remember singing "California Here I Come" in hopes we'd make it.

    We landed in Burbank and it was over 100 degrees outside. They told us to stand under the wing in the shade to keep cool until flight time which was delayed by several hours. It was a small puddle jumper with no air. Hot as hell inside. All they had to drink was coffee and tea. Not even water which never made sense to me.

    We flew up the valley going up and down, up and down over every single hill and mountain. My father still remembers laughing when he saw us land in Oakland. I can't remember if the plane was bright yellow or bright green, but in big letters across the side it said "Blatts."

    My mother got off the plane and informed my dad that she didn't know how he was planning to get us back to Hawaii, but it better be on United. We went back on a United flight out of San Francisco...in a lightening storm.

  5. Well the Goverment Screwed up the Trucking Business , just like their doing with the Airlines, as I used to say its not really the System, its PEOPLE within the system, that don't know what the Sam Hell their doing and have NO Business in authority anyway, but WE seem to keep them in power no matter what ! WE always seem to wait till the situtation is so far out of control its unmanageable, then we want to go in and fix the problem, only making it worse, as we yet again, put the wrong Idiots & Morons at the helm of the ship to yet again steer us into a deeper unknown mess, we just never learn ! Its only been this way the last 25 - 30 years, and it doesn't matter what party is at the Helm of the ship - noe of em' know what the hell their doing, they talk a good line, put on great Photo Ops, and thats about the extent of their being the Captain, from there on' its Down hill !! Lets see, it started with Trucking in the 70's - then the airlines in the 80's, then came the phone companies in the 80's & 90's , now once again their putting finishing touches on the airline industry - Trucking is doomed - phone companies are a mess,, and the US Postal service is about to be doomed - automtive industry has been doomed since the 70's - workers are definetly doomed - our Military is a disaster - the Government is in utter Chaos filled now with Rich Wealthy Corrupt Arrogrant Sheisters or however ya spell it - our S.S Retirement system is an utter joke and Taxes in this country are another joke and lastly - CORPORATE AMERICA and those that reside in Corporate America are an utter Disgrace ! Yip, that pretty much sums it up, I'm gettin on my Rocket Ship and blastin off to another planet - while you all self destruct in your own Egoism, bloated idealogy and twisted Rhetoric - see Ya - BYE !!!!

    1. AnonymousJuly 21, 2012

      I think spelling is already doomed.

  6. This is an anecdote from Clayton Moore's book "I Was That Masked Man". Clayton was The Lone Ranger in the TV series.
    After The Lone Ranger series ended, Clayton Moore would travel the country making personal appearances as the Lone Ranger, mask, guns and all. He would travel with his guns, which were real, in his luggage. Whenever airline security asked him about the guns he would simply say "I'm Clayton Moore, The Lone Ranger", and that was enough, they never gave him a hard time. In fact they were delighted that they were meeting their childhood hero and just waved him through.
    I wonder how the Lone Ranger would fare in today's airports.

  7. Q: What's the difference between a Stewardess and a flight attendant?

    A: About 75 pounds.

  8. Don't forget, Gilligan...the original stewardesses (circa 1930) were trained nurses, whose main duty was to care for airsick passengers dealing with turbulence in unpressurized cabins.