Believe it or not, there was a time in the history of air travel when you did not have to sit in an emergency-exit row in order to have room for your legs. Following the 1958 passage of the Federal Aviation Act, which established an air-traffic-control system, commercial jet services were introduced in 1959. Not quite the 747 of the 1970s, the Boeing 707 nevertheless ushered in the jet age — and a forgotten era of cramp-free flight. Granted, such travel was mostly for the wealthy, as the Federal Government regulated fares, keeping prices high. But those who could afford it enjoyed a whole different world of comfort and pampering that has since gone the way of the dodo, at least in the U.S.
Among the big draws for potential airline customers were very attractive stewardesses — no offense to the flight attendants of present-day America. Looks were a major factor in ’60s hiring practices. And stewardess is what they — most of them were women — were called back then. They provided just about anything you could need — pillows, coffee, blankets, magazines, food — all free of charge. One advertisement even promised that “working girls” could make customers “feel like a leading man.” Right up Don Draper’s alley. (The sexism — we don’t miss that so much.)
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