With all the talk these days about having to pay for luggage and using cell phones inflight, I thought it would be interesting to revisit the early days of passenger air travel.

Back when air travel was in it’s infancy…

The less you weighed the more luggage you could take. Weight allowances were closely monitored. Passengers and their luggage were weighed together at the check in counter with the maximum weight allowance being a combination of person and luggage.

Stewardesses used to carry the luggage onboard and also pump the fuel. In the 1930’s stewardesses hired by Boeing Air Transport (now known as United Airlines) were all registered nurses who wore white uniforms onboard, dusted the plane, screwed down any loose seats, and even helped push planes into hangers.

Airlines used to provide flying gear. Because the early planes were unheated, passengers were often provided with flying togs with paper liners to insulate them from the cold, helmuts and gloves, and even hot water bottles.

Pilots used to pass messages about flight times etc by paper to the passengers. Planes were too noisy for conversation. Passengers often stuffed cotton wool in their ears to try and drown out the sound of the engines. It wasn’t until the 1930’s that cabins were soundproofed and a steward call button system introduced.

Early planes only flew during the day as night time flying was considered too risky. And many flights were suspended altogether in winter. Rather than fly during the night, the plane landed and passengers disembarked and were accommodated in a hotel. Night flying was seen as neither safe nor humane.

Flights often took days rather than hours. The first long distance flight in 1924 between Amsterdam and Jakerta took 55 days, averaging a speed of 75 mph. By 1929, the same flight took 12 days. It wasn’t until the 1940s that a flight from London to New York took under 24 hours.

Today’s air travel might not be perfect but you have to agree that it sure is an improvement over the early days of travel.

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