PAN AM – When flying was First Class…

PAN AM – When flying was First Class…

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  • From the 1920’s until its demise in 1991, Pan American Airlines symbolized all that was luxurious in air travel.
  • Elite fliers packed some of the first commercial use jumbo jets and were treated to delicious rounds of meals served by bright and beautiful young women in couture uniforms.
  • Celebrities, businessmen and “Rainbow Class” alike jetted-off to far-flung vacation spots across the globe on this mega airline, the US’s first International carrier.
1980s - Mother Theresa with Pan Am crews...

The 1980s – Mother Theresa with Pan Am crew.

  • Pan American Airways represented the USA – as the primary flag carrier.
  • Like its iconic stewardesses, Pan Am had beauty and brains; they were the first carrier to adopt Boeing’s 747, revolutionized radio communication and emergency equipment, and broke records with a New York to New York ’round-the-world trip.
 
Cabin crew taken aboard Jet by the Captain during 1960s.

The fate of Pan Am, of course, was not a glamorous one with route monopoly problems and bankruptcy grounding flights permanently in December of 1991. For a few short decades, though, the pilots and their flight attendants in blue were celebs in their own right, almost invincible, changing the way we would forever think about air travel, even inspiring a tv show 20 years later.
But the major reason for Pan Am going out of business was the Airline Deregulation Act.
carter-deregulation
President Jimmy Carter signs the act into law on Oct. 24, 1978.
  • The bill was spearheaded by Senators Ted Kennedy (D-Mass) and Howard W. Cannon (D-NV) and eventually dissolved the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB).
  • Without the CAB’s guaranteed rate of return, many storied airlines – Pan Am, Eastern Air Lines, Braniff International – found they couldn’t compete in the new world of open markets and eventually were consigned to the dustbin of aviation history.
Life aboard the Friendly Skies of Pan Am… 

From the 1920’s until its demise in 1991, Pan American Airlines symbolized all that was luxurious in air travel. Elite fliers packed some of the first commercial use jumbo jets and were treated to delicious rounds of meals served by bright and beautiful girls in couture uniforms. Celebrities, businessmen and “Rainbow Class” alike jetted-off to far-flung vacation spots across the globe on this mega airline, the US’s first International carrier.
Like its iconic stewardesses, Pan Am had beauty and brains; they were the first carrier to adopt Boeing’s 747, revolutionized radio communication and emergency equipment, and broke records with a New York to New York ’round-the-world trip.

Social and Travel History… PAN AM… White-Glove Service

More than years ago, flying had a certain glamor: the luxurious seats, the doting (and beautiful) flight attendants, the gourmet meals… Today, most of the majesty of commercial air travel has been scrapped thanks to cutbacks and tight security. Miss the old days? We look back at what it used to mean to fly commercially.

Pictured: In 1968, a Pan Am flight attendant embraces and Aeroflot Stewardess before their first transatlantic flights from New York to Moscow.

LIFE photos featuring the glamor of air travel in the 1950s and 1960s… When passengers didn’t travel in cargo pants and t-shirts…

Pan American Airways System Sikorsky S-42B flying boat over Miami in the 1930s…

Interior of S-42B Sikorsky – wide aisle – two seats on either side. While the S-42B service was for but a brief time it demonstrated the type of passenger service Pan Am would offer in the future – from the DC-3 DC-4 – DC-6 – Boeing 377 Strato-Cruiser – and the Boeing 707 Jet aircraft until the service was suspended in 1957 – every aspect of the service was First Class.

Pan American Airways System in flight food service aboard an S-42B Sikorsky.

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About Michael L. Grace

During the mid-80s, Michael Grace worked as a writer on the TV Hit Series THE LOVE BOAT. He wrote many of the two hour special featuring great stars of the past, including Lana Turner, Claire Trevor, Anne Baxter, Ethel Merman, Alexis Smith, etc. The public’s access to these stars, in familiar dramas and comedies, made them want to go on a cruise. They could see the stars in an ordinary world as “regular” people. The phenomenally successful series was responsible for creating the cruise industry as we know it today. By the time he was writing for Love Boat, the great steamship companies and their liners were flying hand me down foreign flags, painted like old whores, scrapped or doing three day cruises to the Bahamas. He had sailed on over thirty ships and liners with his parents, aunt and grandmother in late 50s to early 70s. The very successful CRUISING THE PAST website has been an outgrowth of Michael’s strong interest in cruise and social history. Drawing on his own knowledge and a vast maritime and social history collection, he is able to produce a very successful website. Michael is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. He has written for television and films. Read more by going to "About" (on the above dashboard) and clicking "Editor"…