By Ismat Sarah Mangla
September 19, 2014
Air travel wasn’t always the harrying, knee-defending, fee-collecting experience it is today. In its fabled heyday, flying was filled with glamour: Food served on real china, plush seats, endless cocktails and smartly dressed travelers were the norm. And Pan American World Airways, which collapsed in 1991, was the epitome of that luxury in the sky.
Now, a company in Los Angeles wants to take you back in time so you can see for yourself. The Pan Am Experience offers monthly dinner parties aboard a replica Boeing 747 styled like a Pan Am Jumbo Jet from the 1970s. The events are offered by Air Hollywood, a film studio that provides mock airplane sets for film and television productions.
For $197, you can purchase a seat in “Clipper Class,” while $297 lands you in the First Class cabin on the plane’s upper deck (which you reach via its famed spiral staircase). And just so we’re clear: The plane doesn’t actually go anywhere. Instead, “passengers” spend four hours being served cocktails and dinner by flight attendants decked out in original 1970s Pan Am uniforms, followed by a movie and a chance to view a huge collection of airline memorabilia and see other film sets. Here’s how Pan Am Experience describes the evening:
Your Pan Am experience starts on the main deck with a cocktail and beverage service in the First Class cabin. Each stewardess that greets you will be adorned in her original 1970s Pan Am uniform. Our Pan Am crew will offer various video & audio selections while you sit back in your Pan Am Sleeperette seat and sip a cocktail.
Soon after, you’ll climb the winding staircase where the crew will set your table for a truly memorable dining event. In classic Pan Am style, you’ll be offered your favorite cocktail and served a delightful gourmet meal. Everything from the china to the glassware is authentic with careful attention to the exquisite service delivery of the era and menu offerings of Pan Am.
And you better come dressed to impress. “Guests are expected to dress the part, and and dress nicely, just like passengers did in the 1970s. We won’t require a coat and tie, but we will discourage jeans, sneakers, shorts or sandals. Our goal is to make this feel like Mad Men, and our guests should play the part,” Rob Shalhoub of Air Hollywood told TravelSkills.
The Pan Am Experience is the result of a partnership between Air Hollywood and Anthony Toth, a United Airlines sales exec so obsessed with Pan Am’s history that he had amassed the largest collection of the airline’s memorabilia in the world. Toth spent years recreating a Pan Am 747 in his garage, of all places (he later moved it to an industrial warehouse). Partnering with Air Hollywood was a perfect fit.
According to TravelSkills, First Class seats are nearly sold out for the first three events in October, November and December, but the Clipper Class cabin still has plenty of room.