How first class flying has changed over the past 70 years
- Modern commercial air travel is far from glamorous. For most people, it simply a means to get from point A to point B.
- It pales in comparison to the pampered flying experience of during the 1960s.
- However, the luxury of the Golden Age of air travel is still alive and well in the first class cabins of the world's leading airlines.
- Brands like Pan Am have given way to Singapore, Emirates, and Etihad.
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Flying these days can be a slog.
For most of us, it's something we tolerate as a means to get from point A to point B. It's no longer a special occasion. For the traveling masses, commercial flying has been reduced down to the essence of what it is, public transportation.Things didn't use to be this way. We've all been regaled with tales of the Golden Age of air travel - of the 1960s jet-set that were lavished spacious seats, cosseting service, fine wines, and gourmet meals.
It puts into sharp relief our quotidian flying experience.
However, the glamor of the Golden Age has not completely gone away. It's still very much alive and well in the first class cabins of the world's leading airlines. In fact, I would argue that the first class experience today is vastly superior to that of decades past.
First off, flying, in general, is significantly more safe and reliable. According to data from the Flight Safety Foundation, the rate of fatal airliner accidents decreased from 4.2 per 1 million flight in 1977 to around 0.2 per million flights in 2017.
And then there's the inflight experience. Modern first class cabins offer a greater degree of privacy, comfort, technology, and personalization than the jet set could have ever imagined. With prices that could top $40,000 for a round-trip, these tickets are far from affordable. Then again, neither was first class during the Golden Age of Flight.Here's a closer look at how first-class air travel has changed over the past 70 years.