But in the 50s, flying was something different. It was something magical and marvelous. Air travel exploded into its Golden Age, and airplane trips weren’t just a means of getting to your vacation — they were a vacation in themselves. Passengers dressed in their finest to fly. They lined up for group photos before boarding. Riding an airplane made them feel like a movie star because it pretty much took the salary of a movie star to do so.
But not everything was so rosy. If you took a flight in the 1950s…
Turbulence could snap your neck.
Early commercial planes were powered with pistons, not jet engines. As a result, they were loud, vibrated fiercely, bumped like crazy in turbulence and were grounded often due to weather (things got smoother after the first commercial jet debuted in 1952). In the 50s, pressurized airplane cabins were relatively new to the scene. And a non-stop flight? Not likely — getting across the country could require multiple layovers.
You had insane amounts of legroom.
Coach seats had three to six inches more legroom than they do today — 1950s economy class looked more like business class does now. And first class was clearly about as spacious as a modern hotel room.