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The Fall of Luxury in Airliners (with bibliography)

by LZPianoGirl


The Fall of Luxury In Airliners

Introduction

To the modern traveler, flying can be a headache and a hassle. People from the mid 20th century would have never imagined having to arrive at the airport hours before their flight just to wait in security lines. Compared to today, air travel in the 1950-1980s was an adventure within itself. Planes would be stocked with delicacies such as lobster, various alcohols, fresh fruit and trinkets to take home to family members. Once considered a symbol of luxury and how wealthy people jet-setted in style, airline travel has lost its luster and become a burden for travelers in the 21st century.

Airliners in the Mid-1900s

In the mid-to latter half of the 20th century, a flight on a plane was a vacation within itself. As flying became a popular and safer way to travel, airliners added luxurious accommodations to their flights to attract customers. It was common for flight attendants to serve expensive meals, such as lobster, steak, and fresh salad, on fine china plates with silver utensils. On most commercial planes, there were bars with a large alcohol selection and plush couches. All planes had sleeping berths that could be lowered from the ceiling by a stewardess. Seats also had nearly double the amount of legroom that planes have now. Some planes, like the Boeing 747, had spiral staircases that led up to a first-class smoking lounge. The first-class lounge was furnished with expensive swivel chairs, tables, and couches. Men and women milled about the cabins, wearing their finest suits and pillbox hats, perhaps taking a puff on their “Kent” cigarettes or enjoying a Manhatten while they looked onto the horizon.

In the 1950s-1980s, airlines hired stewardesses based on their weight, looks, and height. Depending on the airline brand, flight attendants could be no more than 5 feet, 6 inches, and 128 pounds. Stewardesses' hair could not touch their shoulders and they had strict dress codes. These restrictions were part of an effort to create the image of “a perfect trip:” perfect flight attendants, fabulous amenities, and skilled pilots. Airliners used this image to compete amongst themselves and attract the most customers. Airlines like PanAm and TWA advertised on the radio, print media like Time and People magazines, and television. Advertisements continued to perpetuate the image that an airline trip was in and of itself a vacation in the sky for the wealthy, or those who wanted to live like royalty..

The Fall of Luxury in the Air

Despite being the mode for the wealthy to travel in style during the 1950s-1980s, airline travel lost its glamour towards the end of the 20th century due to economic pressures. In the 1950s, there were few airlines, namely TWA and PanAm, that were competing in the U.S. marketplace. However, as the 20th century drew to a close, there were nascent airline companies in every corner of country trying to take a little piece of the major airlines’ business. Budget airlines, such as Southwest, Frontier and JetBlue, were founded with the mission to open the skies to regular people. To compete, and attract a broader base of customers, airlines lowered the prices of fares. Lowering prices meant that airlines made fewer profits which in turn meant they could not invest in their airlines or amenities they once provided travelers. Whereas all airline seats in the 1950s had plenty of legroom and amenities, airlines began putting more seats on airlines in the late 20th century so that they could make more money on fares. In the golden days of air travel, seats could recline and turn into beds. Nowadays, passengers hardly have thirty inches for their legs. Many airliners also started to “overbook” their flights, meaning they sold more tickets than there were seats on the plane to ensure they were flying a full load of paying passengers. Airliners introduced “business-class” in 1979 in an attempt to provide some sort of stratification of fares and give travelers the space they were missing. Cost-cutting also impacted the food that passengers received during their flights. Once known for serving three to four-course meals, airlines in the late 20th century now served a bag of peanuts. Complimentary alcoholic beverages were replaced by soft drinks, with customers having to purchase alcohol separately. Kids who looked forward to receiving their “souvenir wings” when dad or mom returned home from a trip in the air were now emptyhanded. The thrill and luxury of flying in the sky was replaced with cramp spaces and inadequate food for weary travelers.

Airliners Today

Not only were airliners faced with economic pressures at the end of the 20th century, but external forces such as terrorist attacks and other concerns also impacted air travel. Airlines, already struggling to survive, were impacted by the fear engendered by disastrous plane crashes. In 1988, Pan-Am Flight 103 was blown out of the sky in Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 passengers and crew on board as well as eleven innocent civilians on the ground. The belief was that Lybian nationals had blown up the plane in an overt act of terrorism. The disaster was the death knell of Pan Am, which folded shortly thereafter in 1991. On July 17, 1997, TWA Flight 800, which had just taken off from JFK Airport, exploded over the Atlantic Ocean killing everyone on board. Theories surfaced that a surface to air missile may have taken the plane down. TWA, the airline of Howard Hughes, had to file for bankruptcy three times before it was purchased by American Airlines thereafter. If the airline industry wasn’t already in turmoil, it was even more severely impacted by the September 11th terrorist attacks. In the weeks following these tragics events, the Transportation Safety Board grounded airlines until the U.S. government could determine whether additional terrorist attacks were being planned. People were afraid to fly and the airline industry was on the brink of extinction. In the wake of these terrorist attacks, the TSA put in place new restrictions for airline travel which only impacted travelers’ freedom more. Since September 11, 2001, passengers are not allowed to move out of their seats during take-off and landing, they cannot bring liquids into the airport, they are prohibited from bringing certain materials (like matches, scissors and pins) and there is usually a policeman or marshal in civilian clothes on flights. Cockpit doors are now locked to prevent a terrorist rushing the cockpit and overtaking the pilots and the planes. Airlines have yet to recover fully from the impact of the 9/11 attacks. But terrorist attacks have not been the only external force that has impacted the airline industry in the 21st century. The novel coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the industry, causing airline stock prices to tumble and passengers even more afraid of flying. For example, over 600 Southwest flight attendants were sickened with COVID-19 after flying international flights day in and day out. Although COVID-19 has affected all people and all industries, it has impacted the travel and airline industry particularly hard. Currently, the future of commercial flight is unknown. Will the airline industry be able to stage a comeback and recover? Will it need a government bailout like the financial industry and auto industry received in 2009? One thing is clear: traveling “the friendly skies” will never be the same.

Conclusion

In less than a half-century, airliners have gone from a luxurious means of travel to a burdensome, tedious and often dangerous model of travel. Passengers, once thrilled with the thought of an excursion in the sky, now complain about the lack of food, legroom and other amenities on planes. Faced with declining revenue, famous airlines like Pan Am and TWA are now extinct. Outside forces such as terrorist attacks have only compounded the disaster for the industry. At the dawn of the 21st century, it remains an open and unanswered question as to whether the airline industry can survive and re-invent itself for the next generation of travelers.

1331 Words

Annotated Bibliography

Primary Source

Books

Smith, Patrick. Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need To Know About Air Travel. 1st ed.,

New York, Sourcebooks, 2013, pp. 89-113.

Patrick Smith is a pilot and author, and his book Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need To Know About Air Travel answers questions people have about air travel in general. It has sections on what it takes to become a pilot, famous air disasters, and facts about turbulence. The first chapter has facts about the history of Boeing, Airbus, and airliners that no longer exist, such as Pan Am and TWA. These chapters were captivating and provided facts about the golden age of air travel.

Secondary Sources

Websites

Bilstein, Roger E., et al. "History of Flight." Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica,

Inc., 3 Dec. 2018. Google, www.britannica.com/technology/history-of-flight. Accessed

21 Apr. 2020.

Bilstein’s article about the history of flight is very informative and provided many facts about planes in the mid-20th century. Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. owns Britannica.com and the website holds articles about everything imaginable. They cover all topics including Ancient Civilizations, World War Two, and Communism. This particular article covered the history of flight since the Wright Brothers. It provided facts about the beginning of airtravel and how they became less luxurious over time.

Ho, Reggie. "First-class air travel: is it still worth the money?" South China Morning Post, South

China Morning Post Publishers Ltd., 20 July 2018. Google, www.scmp.com/magazines

/style/travel-food/article/2107649/history-first-class-reveals-luxury-air-travel-tug-war. Accessed 21 Apr. 2020.

The South China Morning Post is a very obscure website, but it provided many facts about the current status of first-class. SCMP also covers a variety of topics and is mostly focused on the news on CORVID-19 during this time. Its "Style" section is filled with fashion advice, but it has a few articles about travel. Reggie Hos article about first class is very factual and interesting. It provides insight into first class in the golden age of air travel and now.

Muther, Christopher. " What happened to the glamour of air travel?" The Boston Globe, Boston

Globe Media Partners, LLC, 6 Sept. 2014. Google, www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/

travel/2014/09/06/what-happened-glamour-air-travel/D2tH33b60WzmIkKPmUQMBP/story.html. Accessed 16 Apr. 2020.

The Boston Globe is a popular newspaper that is available online and in paper form. Its online database is filled with articles, old and new, about all different topics. There are several articles about travel that Boston Globe’s authors have written, including Christopher Muther’s article about the glamour of air travel. It contains many details about how airplanes looked in the 1950s to 1980s. This was vital information for the first paragraphs of the essay.

Schmalbruch, Sarah. "THEN AND NOW: Photos that show how glamorous flying used to be."

Insider, Insider Inc., 4 Sept. 2019. Google, www.insider.com/vintage-retro-flying-airplan

e-travel-photos-2018-7. Accessed 21 Apr. 2020.

This collection of vintage photos are very interesting and provide insight into what flying was like in the 20th century. Owned by Insider Inc., Insider.com has plenty of interesting articles about many diverse topics. Sarah Schmalbruch’s article and photos provided indispensable knowledge about airliners in the Golden Age of air travel.

Whitmore, Geoff. "What's The Difference Between Business and First Class?" Forbes, Forbes

Media LLC, 21 Aug. 2018. Google, www.forbes.com/sites/geoffwhitmore/2018/08/21/

whats-the-difference-between-business-and-first-class/#6d33ed1d8d14. Accessed 20 Apr. 2020

This site, owned and operated by Forbes Media LLC, is a great source of a variety of articles. From travel to economics, Forbes has it all. For this essay, Geoff Whitmore’s article on business class provided important information about the fall of luxury. It included valuable information about business class being better than economy, but how it took over part of first class.

Yglesias, Matthew. "Why flying in America keeps getting more miserable, explained." Vox, Vox

Media, LLC, 12 Apr. 2017. Google, www.vox.com/new-money/2017/4/12/15247172/

why-airlines-are-terrible. Accessed 15 Apr. 2020.

Matthew Yglesias’s report on how American airliners are becoming worse provided vital information for this essay. Vox Media, LLC is the publisher of Vox, the site Yglesias wrote his article for. It has many interesting articles about an assortment of subjects.Their articles are easy to understand, yet provides a substantial amount of information in them.


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Mon Apr 27, 2020 1:43 pm
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whatchamacallit wrote a review...



Hello LZ! I'm so sorry I forgot to review this yesterday!

First off, this is really well written, as your previous reviews have mentioned. The argument and points seem great to me, so I'm just going to point out very minor wording things, to make it a little smoother in some parts.

Introduction paragraph

People from the mid 20th century would have never imagined having to arrive at the airport hours before their flight just to wait in security lines.

"Have" and "having" in the same sentence is a bit repetitive, so I would suggest simply changing "having" to something along the lines of "needing".

Planes would be stocked with delicacies such as lobster, various alcohols, fresh fruit and trinkets to take home to family members.

I would recommend you change "trinkets" to "souvenirs", as that sounds a bit more professional. I also always suggest using the Oxford comma, which means putting a comma after the second last item in a list - in this case, "fresh fruit".


Airliners in the Mid-1900s Paragraphs
As flying became a popular and safer way to travel, airliners added luxurious accommodations to their flights to attract customers.

Again, "to" gets a bit repetitive. You could fix this by changing the second half of the sentence to:
"...their flights, in the hope of attracting customers."
or something like that.

Some planes, like the Boeing 747, had spiral staircases that led up to a first-class smoking lounge. The first-class lounge was furnished with expensive swivel chairs, tables, and couches.

Since you just finished a sentence with "a first-class smoking lounge", you don't need to repeat it at the beginning of the next. Just say, "This lounge was furnished...", or something like that.

These restrictions were part of an effort to create the image of “a perfect trip:” perfect flight attendants, fabulous amenities, and skilled pilots.

Just a minor detail,
the quotation marks around "a perfect trip" should finish before the colon, like this...
"a perfect trip":

Also, try using a different adjective than "perfect" to describe the flight attendants.

...who wanted to live like royalty..

Just an extra period at the end of this sentence.


The Fall of Luxury in the Air Paragraph

However, as the 20th century drew to a close, there were nascent airline companies in every corner of country trying to take a little piece of the major airlines’ business.

I believe you need "the" before "country"?

Honestly, other than that this paragraph is awesome!


Airliners Today Paragraph

Not only were airliners faced with economic pressures at the end of the 20th century, but external forces such as terrorist attacks and other concerns also impacted air travel. Airlines, already struggling to survive, were impacted by the fear engendered by disastrous plane crashes.

"Impacted" is used twice in these two sentences. You could try rewriting the second sentence along the lines of:
Airlines, already struggling to survive, suffered the consequences of the fear engendered by...

Cockpit doors are now locked to prevent a terrorist rushing the cockpit and overtaking the pilots and the planes.

I believe you need a "from" before "rushing".

Airlines have yet to recover fully from the impact of the 9/11 attacks. But terrorist attacks have not been the only external force that has impacted the airline industry in the 21st century.

Again, "impact"/"impacted" are used twice, so try to switch the language up a little.

The novel coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the industry, causing airline stock prices to tumble and passengers even more afraid of flying.

I would put "making" before "passengers".

For example, over 600 Southwest flight attendants were sickened with COVID-19 after flying international flights day in and day out.

I would put a comma after "international flights".


Conclusion Paragraph

In less than a half-century, airliners have gone from a luxurious means of travel to a burdensome, tedious and often dangerous model of travel.

I think it would strengthen your point and make it less repetitive if you changed the second "travel" to "transportation".

At the dawn of the 21st century, it remains an open and unanswered question as to whether the airline industry can survive and re-invent itself for the next generation of travelers.

"Re-invent" does not need a hyphen.

Wow! Okay, overall, this is really well written! Your logic makes sense, your points are clear, and this is well organized. All the wording things I've mentioned above are really small!

Well done! I hope this was helpful, and sorry I'm a bit late. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

Keep writing!

Whatchamacallit




LZPianoGirl says...


Thank you! I appreciate all your corrections and the time you put in to write this!



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Fri Apr 24, 2020 4:03 am
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Gravitem wrote a review...



Hi there! Wonderful essay.

This is the first essay I've tried reading on the site and its splendid. That aside, it is a pretty important topic you have decided to cover and in my opinion, more people should read this as I can see that you have got your information from great sources and you have put it into an essay with no rough edges and a smooth flow.

To the modern traveler, flying can be a headache and a hassle.

Though simple, this was a wonderful start because while writing an essay, one must always look for a link or a relation between the readers and the article itself and this was a perfect way of doing that. It is always important to make sure that the reader can imagine the extent of what you're talking about.

TWA, the airline of Howard Hughes, had to file for bankruptcy twice before it was purchased by American Airlines thereafter.


Just wanted to add that TWA then filed for bankruptcy a third time. Not a correction or anything just wanted to say so.

At the dawn of the 21st century, it remains an open and unanswered question as to whether the airline industry can survive and re-invent itself for the next generation of travelers.

Again, a medium to relate through. A good job with the conclusion and I enjoyed reading every bit just to be be very clear :)

KEEP WRITING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




LZPianoGirl says...


Thank you for the wonderful review! Ill edit the TWA mistake. Before turning this essay in, so thank you for catching that mistake. Your review is very detailed and thank you for taking time to write it!



Gravitem says...


IT ISN'T A MISTAKE I WAS JUST TELLING YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



LZPianoGirl says...


aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa sorry!!! im still changing it tho!!!!



Gravitem says...


OK AS LONG AS YOU AREN'T "CORRECTING" IT AND ONLY "CHANGING" IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



LZPianoGirl says...


OK I WILL "CHANGE" IT!!!!!!!!! XD



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Fri Apr 24, 2020 1:06 am
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yellow wrote a review...



hello, it's yellow!

i've noticed that you do have quite a few essays, which is really cool and i enjoy reading a good essay! it's nice to know that there are people out there that enjoy writing them.

first, this is an extremely interesting topic. it's socially relevant and provocative. the angle in which you take is very interesting and i do really like your choices for your three main points. although, there are a few suggestions i would like to make.

i admire that you included a bibliography, but i would maybe format your bibliography in a different manner. if you are using mla format, then traditionally, you would not really have any headings that show the reader which source is primary and which source is secondary. it's also unnecessary to have a description of each source. it's just a huge space saver! i would also like you to include in-text citations, just so we know when you refer to that source. i can show you what that would look like through an example.

1. Wordsworth stated that Romantic poetry was marked by a "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (263).

2. Romantic poetry is characterized by the "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (Wordsworth 263).

3. Wordsworth extensively explored the role of emotion in the creative process (263).


with the first one, since you already are referring to the author of the source, which is wordsworth, you would just use the page number, which is 263. the portion in quotations is directly from the source itself, word for word. in the second example, you aren't referring to the author right away, so as a source, it would be the last name and the page number. once again, the part in quotations is word for word in the source. in the third example, wordsworth is referred to, but there are no quotations. the source is being paraphrased, which in that case, you do not need the quotations.

one thing that struck out to me right away is your thesis.

Once considered a symbol of luxury and how wealthy people jet-setted in style, airline travel has lost its luster and become a burden for travelers in the 21st century.


it's great! good job with this! but, i would like you to almost repeat it in your conclusion, but reword it so it fits in with the paragraph. if you do this, the reader will know what your thesis is.

another thing i would like to comment on is how you introduce your main points. you don't really need to have headings for each point, just because it really breaks up the flow of the essay. what you could do, though, is in your introduction, introduce your points.

First, we will board on and learn about airliners and their purpose in the mid-1900s. Then, let's fly through the fall of luxury in the air. Finally, we will land and learn about airliners today. (i like to use puns whenever i do things like this, just to make it even more interesting and fun.)


even when you go through your points, introduce them accordingly using that same language. and, in your concluding paragraph, do that sequence one more time, just change up the wording.

while i was reading your third point, i realized the first two were a tad bit shorter than the last. of course, not all points should have the exact same word counts, but each point should introduce around three subtopics. with that, you can expand even further on the content of each point, which i think would benefit what you currently have.

this was a really good read! although, like with everything else, there is always room for improvement. once again, great job and i'm looking forward to reading more of your essays!




LZPianoGirl says...


Thanks! For our class we do not have to site in the paper (as you showed), but thank you for the examples. Your review is great and I appreciate that you took time to write this!



LZPianoGirl says...


Oh, and, this essay is formatted as expected for this class. I do agree that it definitely split up the essay a bit!




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