There was a time when flying was a pleasure. You have to go a long way back but there were days when the air hostesses were hired on the length of their legs, the drinks flowed and the dining was haute cuisine rather than a £2.99 cup-a-soup.
But let’s not dwell on modern convenience. Let’s instead have a nostalgic flick through the heyday of Airline, through a new photo book of the same name.
According to a spokesman (you’ll see why it’s 'man' not 'person' in a second) for Southwest Airlines of Texas in 1973, when stewardesses were interviewed for jobs, he started with their legs and worked up to their faces. One suspects these candidates made the grade.
Having bagged the girls with the best pins in the business, the same Southwest Airlines decided to really show them off. “The girls must be able to wear kinky leather boots and hot pants or they don't get the job,” said an unnamed airline boss, presumably because such a statement might not go down so well with the ol’ ball and chain.
The girls weren’t the only beauty to feast your eyes on in the heyday of flying. Cocktail hour on Lufthansa’s first class ‘Senator’ service in 1958 took place against a backdrop of Bacchanalian motifs. It is not known if cocktail hour stretched beyond the sixty-minute mark on a long haul flight but you know how it is when the drinks are in…
Girls, drinking, the high life. You know at some point Hugh Hefner’s going to rock up into this glamorous scenario. Here’s a snap from the interior of the private DC-9 as decked out for the Playboy chief. He bought the aircraft in 1970 and duly dubbed it ‘Big Bunny’.
Black leather abounds, as you can see from the shot of playroom (no, not that one). The bedroom, just through that door, included vast swathes of animal pelt as bedspreads and numerous bunnies at your service. Heady stuff.
She could have been a Playboy bunny but Aki Alma was a showgirl at the Stardust Hotel-Casino, Las Vegas when she graced the exterior of the Western Pacific’s Boeing 737. Her 37-foot likeness was used as part of the airline’s ‘AirLogo’ programme from the mid-1990s, in which the airline used the exteriors of its aircraft for advertising.
Airline, Style at 30,000 Feet by Keith Lovegrove is out now, £9.95 from Foyles, Waterstones and laurenceking.com