Standards? What Are They?

Just think:  in my brief lifetime, we have gone from airline passengers looking like this:

Economy class seating, 1969

…to this:

…even worse, to this:

…and to  situations like this:

The airlines don’t want their passengers to travel in their underwear, and they’re the bad guys?

And the prole drift of society continues on its merry way towards the abyss…


  1. On the other hand… Ms. Culpo is one of the few people i’d actually want to see in her underwear, so there’s that.

    But yes, I absolutely get where you’re coming from and agree with you. There’s that somewhat famous “1st hidden camera” series of photos from Oslo in the late 1800’s and everybody on the street was dressed to the nines. More recently there are the memes using pics from the 50’s that note how nice everyone looked, or the comparison of Cary Grant in a suit to some no-name H-wood “actor” that asks “what happened to men?!?!?!”

    It’s writ large upon society though. Yet another reason I prefer to consume Asian films and tv anymore — they still dress nicely to leave the house in those shows.

  2. with TSA requiring a strip down of any well dressed passenger I’m surprised more people don’t just wrap a towel around themselves when flying.


    1. It has been SERIOUSLY considered with a chamois loin cloth and
      a spear coming in a close second !!

  3. In the early 60’s it was coat and tie, looking nice to fly on the airlines with beautiful young ladies having fun being stewardess’s, a friend of mine my age was one of those lovelies in the olden times and she made it very clear that she was not a flight attendant, she was one of the flying beauty queen stews.

    In the late 70’s I used SW Airlines a fair amount, cheap fares, short trips, fast loading and unloading with fun stewardess’s in hot pants and free beer after 4 pm, you pick up a beer or two out of a trash can on the tarmac before you got on the plane. You knew you were flying cheap and that was kind of understood, last person stepping on the plane the door slammed shut and the pilots started taxiing while folks took their seats. Then dereg and everyone jumped on the cheap flight thing selling the extra seats with a few dollars profit and filling up the planes with common folks, unfortunately over time the folk became too common.

    Today airports are bus stations filled with people in pajamas in the morning for early flights, all sorts of elastic outerwear that might be underwear and tired flight attendants of all sizes, shapes and ages working hard and fast to give folks a cookie and a little bit of something liquid in a paper cup. Yep I remember hot meals on china with nice flatware and some good desserts and cloth napkins. A nice little split of wine, or decent little bottle of whiskey or beer helped the time in the air pass faster, or if a person wanted to take a nap, a pillow and blanket made for comfort. Free decks of cards and when the planes were not a full nice young stewardess or two would be happy to play a game of hearts of gin, those were the good old days and passengers smelled better too. So there’s that.

  4. Kim – while I get the differences in dress, there is a more important component going on here. in the 1950s only the rich flew. There was no flying for the vast majority of people; it was the province of the wealthy. And it shows – airlines catered to the tastes of the wealthy; you didn’t need to mash in mass seats, because there was no mass travel. Flying was for the “jet-set.” It was also the era of government regulated semi-monopolies, where airlines didn’t really have to compete.

    Flying today is quite different. Deregulation brought real competition, and that meant price competition. That meant that the price of flying went down dramatically; today, nearly anyone can afford to fly. It’s no longer for the privileged few, and their hoity-toity jackets and ties. That also means that airlines have incentive to cram as many people in the planes as they can.

    It’s not that people were “better” then, they weren’t. People haven’t really changed, only our perception has changed. The airlines were driven by economic incentives then; they are driven by economics now. The incentives are somewhat different, and the regulatory environment is dramatically different, but people haven’t really changed. People never really change. The kinds of people who can fly has changed. Whether that’s for the better or worse, I’ll let others decide.

    In the 50-60’s airlines were the stylish province of the jet-set, who were the only people who could afford to fly, and airlines were protected from significant competition with each other. Today, deregulation has brought price competition, driving the price of flying down, and most people can fly. The result is that the airlines are buses with wings. That’s the difference.

    1. I’m going to guess 70s, from that top pic. Its a widebody, probably a DC-10, if memory serves (I only flew on them twice). Generally, people dressed better in public. And they weren’t all wealthy. My old man flew quite a bit back then.

      Another thing of note – look at the passengers. I don’t see one fatty at all. Every flight I’ve been on in the last ten years has had several. Nothing worse than someone’s excess blubber impinging on your space.

      1. I’d only note as well, as I look at that picture, that it is not a photo of flying in the 70’s – it’s an airline’s advertising photo of flying in the 70s. This is not a candid pic; it’s airline advertising stock. Hardly representative of the real thing. If I can compose my photo to be most attractive, I can pick my “passengers” for the appearance I want.

        And remember, pre-deregulation, “economy” class meant something completely different than it means now.

        1. I’m not talking about the seats or the plane, but the clothing of the passengers. Look at any pic of that era, and that’s how they were all dressed.

          Hell, look at any street photo of the time, and the people were dressed like Cary Grant in North By Northwest.

          1. Like someone said above. You want minimalist clothes because of TSA.

            I am literally down to socks, pants, underwear and t-shirt at security. Women are lucky, they just need yoga pants and a shirt (and many look nice in them, hehe). You have to pack all your jewelry, wallet, etc. in a carry on bag so it can be scanned as they scan you. The more you have to put back on the other side, the more delayed you are (and the more you hold up the line behind you).

            And then you get packed into a sardine can cabin, either climbing all over your seat mates, or them climbing all over you. Who wants to wear nice clothes for all of that? Starched straight clothes, jackets, vests, etc. would be utter misery in a modern flight.

            You can dress to the nines comfortably if you have your own business jet. Sure, you can dress to the nines and fly economy, but welcome to misery! And thanks for holding up the security line!

            Maybe back in the day, it was the influx of us commoners causing the death of style on the planes, but by the time I was born, and heck, my first flight (88 or 89), the airlines were in full sardine packing mode.

            Just pray your flight doesn’t SMELL like a sardine can! I’ve had that happen a couple times over 2 decades of business-related flight. I’ve also had some really cool flights where either they were under booked (awesome when you can lie down in a plane and go to sleep for 6 hours), or you got a party crowd in the back that was in a good mood. But generally, most flights are just a blur I medicate away with Dramamine, because it was some short connector, then a long hop across the country, where you can lean to neither side, and you have to use one of those neck pillows just to be sure you don’t drool in someone’s lap.

  5. I was going to post an Idiocracy screen cap with, “soon it will be this.”

    I realized that none of the screen caps I could find were different than the last one. We’re already there.

  6. One other thing – Look at the plane itself in the first photo. Those seats have some room, the cabin is spacious, and the stewardess is serving real food. I miss the coast-to-coast flights in a DC-10, L-1011, or 747.
    Now it’s like being jammed into the back-seat of a subcompact economy car and a surly attendant will try to sell you a granola bar.

    1. Yeah, definite chicken and egg question. Kim, would you actually wear a suit to climb into a cattle car, complete with leftover hay from the last herd?

      1. I absolutely would (and have, for countless flights). Certainly if the airlines stiffened up their dress codes to “jacket and tie” level I’d have no problem complying.

        Tell you what, too: with a smarter dress code, I bet they’d have fewer “passenger incidents”.

  7. Yeah, that top photo is a marketing gimmick. Flying commercial has *never* been like that, especially in a wide-body like that one.

    Even back then, I would never wear a suit to fly. I hate wearing suits. Ugh! The closest I ever got to that was wearing a dress uniform on several flights when I was in the Navy.

    I did have an experience once that approached what that photo shows. Way back when, before deregulation, I had to fly from Guam to Louisville. It was a long, tiring journey, and I was in my dress white uniform the entire time. The first leg, Guam to Honolulu, was on a MAC flight. It was about 9 hours long and I was very tired when we arrived in Honolulu. From there it was a commercial flight on a Boeing 747 to Chicago with a stop in LA. Up until then, I had never even seen such a big plane, much less rode on one. The Honolulu to LA leg, the plane was completely full – not a single empty seat. However, when we arrived in LA all but TWELVE passengers got off the airplane. (I counted them.) And this was before deregulation, so I think they had to get the plane to Chicago regardless. At any rate, there were more crew than there were passengers on that leg of the flight. It was also a red-eye so they moved all of us into the first-class cabin up in the nose of the plane. It was very nice, but I was too tired to enjoy it.

    One thing about that flight that I will never forget is that there was this really cute teenage girl who sat in the seat next to mine. She kept trying to chat me up, me being the suave and debonair sailor that I was. The problem was that by that time, I had been traveling well over 24 hours, had already crossed the international date line and about ten time zones, and I was utterly exhausted. I couldn’t stay awake to save my life. Poor girl. She had no idea the bullet she dodged.

    When I finally arrived at my parents house, I slept for over ten hours.

  8. We are in the Every Man Era. That means a lot has been given up when it comes to being classy.

  9. Be clean shaven, neat haircut and dress neatly, not necessarily suit and tie, but a pressed collared shirt, chinos, clean leather shoes and a good watch and you stand a better chance of being upgraded to the pointy end than the grubby slob in wife beater and sweat pants.

    1. You haven’t flown much in the U.S., have you?
      It’s all about “equality” or some such bullshit, now.

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