LaughLines: Friendly Skies?

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I’ve got a few business trips coming up, and I’m thinking back to the days when the friendly skies really were. I’m a pilot’s daughter, so we used to fly a lot, back when flying was glamorous. People dressed up, in skirts, dresses, suits and ties. Back then flight attendants were called “stewardesses” and they were pretty glamorous, too. They had to be thin (they used the word “slim”), they had to be good looking (“attractive”), and they had to be women (I believe the term was “chicks” or “babes”). Everyone looked like a model and they smiled a lot and smelled good and you knew they thought this was a glam life. And it was — they wore make up and high heels and flirted with the men who hung around the galley.

Today, there is no galley, because you don’t get food. Flight attendants all look tired and ticked off, and so do the passengers. The flight attendants wear pants, sweaters and polo shirts now, and the passengers? Cut off jeans, flip-flops, halter tops,…unless you’re traveling for business, and then you’re wearing a wrinkled suit with mustard stains on the sleeve.

You don’t get a smile when you board, because the flight attendant is staring at your carry-on, which is the size and weight of a bank vault.

Of course, you’re not smiling either, since you’ve just been through security. I don’t mind screening passengers in the interest of national security, but back in the old days, there was no security. You could waltz right into the airport and down to the gate area, and unless you had sticks of TNT strapped to your chest or a 12-gauge shotgun slung over your shoulder, no one really bothered you.

You also got a nice send-off back then, because your family and boyfriend/girlfriend of the moment came to the gate area to see you off. You’d get a kiss on the cheek from your mom, a hug from your dad, and in the case of most of my boyfriends, a hearty slap on the back. Made you feel good, as you teetered in your high heels, readjusted your pantyhose and trudged down the stairs to the tarmac. Who cared if your hairdo was blown to hell by the wind and propellers? You looked as glamorous as those smiling flight attendants, er – stewardesses.

Planes took off in time and landed on time, and your color-coordinated Samonsite luggage was there waiting for you. No Jersey barricades to jump over as you ran to the shuttle bus. No TSA bouncers asking you if that underwire bra was setting off the security alarm.

Nope. Flying in the old days was a pleasure, exotic and exciting. These days, I’m excited just to sneak a bottle of water in my carry-on, or get a bag of peanuts.

Wait – what did you say, Mr. Flight Attendant? Pretzels this trip? Ah – the glamour of it all!

About Cate Drew

I’m on the high side of 40, with three dogs, two teens and one husband, living in a small New England town in a house that’s never quiet. Ever. It’s not that I have a really colorful life – I just tend to write colorfully about it. And there’s plenty of material: marriage to the Man of a Thousand Bad Ideas,.. my mom, who moved Dad’s coffin closer to the street six months after he died so she could visit his grave as a kind of drive-up window…our dog posse…our kids…lots of siblings and in-laws, former co-workers, old boyfriends -- they’re all here. Toss in 14 years of Catholic school and you’ve got a lot of guilt, too. Which reminds me: forget “high side of 40.” I’m 51, damnit.

  • San Diego LASIK

    LOL. This really cracked me up! I can totally relate to you. I know I’ve been flying a lot of times during the past year, too, and I’d just want to add that I’m not really a fan of flight delays–and I have been experiencing that A LOT. Anyway, I hope you still enjoy your business trips. ;)