Friday, November 02, 2007

When people dressed up for a flight

The airline magazine is perhaps the sanest thing one can have a hold on in order to endure a 14 hour flight. Inflight movies nowadays are not much better than those on cable TV. And if not for IPods, you will have to endure inflight music selections (you still have to turn the IPod off for takeoffs and landings!).

The inflight magazine I read had an interesting article about nostalgia. There was a time in history when people really treated an airplane ride as a social event. And that was as recently as 40 years ago.

Perhaps it was a backwash of cruise liner days when taking the slow boat was a social event and one has to be seen. (Those who saw "Titanic" would know what I mean and even when the ship was sinking Mr Guggenheim had to look his best!) People really dressed up for flight. The men were impeccable in their three piece suits and women wore their best jewels and pearls. The whole aircraft cabin was a smoking lounge.

The meals were served in china with real silverware! Wine was dispensed in bottles and in the right wine glasses.

The stewardesses as they were then called were also fashion statements in themselves. This made a lot of young girls want to be one of them. And the pilots? They were all male and also were fashion statements.

Of course during that time air travel was expensive and only the rich could afford it. With the advent of cheaper fares, being a fashion statement in the air has become anachronistic. What were unheard of decades back are now commonplace such as people boarding wearing shorts and flip flops, t shirts etc. Even businessmen no longer wear business clothes on a flight. They are in "smart casual". And no lady would be wearing her jewels.

One of these days, men would be getting rid of their belts and shoes (which have to be taken off for airport security). As for the ladies, pearls and jewels are liable to cause that beep in airport security.

Flight attendants and pilots no longer wear jackets and blazers and thus look less elegant. One Philippine budget airline has its staff wearing shorts and t shirts.

My father always took the plane impeccably dressed in suit and tie with gentleman's cufflinks. I wouldn't dare. After all those things will cause the metal detector to beep!

Being a fashion statement in the air is now only a subject of historical curiosity.

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