By Bev Cohn
November 19, 2016
Have you ever longed for the good old days when luxury travel was, well, luxury travel? Back in the day, there were no security lines or body scanners and whoever accompanied you to the airport, could actually sit with you at the gate until you were ready to embark. When you walked onto a Pam Am plane, let’s say, you were greeted with lovely, smiling hostesses who were not being distracted by cell phones and most cordially escorted you to your seat.
Well folks, if you would like to relive that glorious time, I have just the spot for you. Air Hollywood, a well-known motion picture studio specializing in films requiring interior or exterior shots of airplanes, has launched The Pan Am Experience. A joint venture of the studio’s CEO and Founder Talaat Captan and Anthony Toth, they have created the interior of a Pan Am Boeing 747, including First and Clipper Class cabins, as well as the nostalgic spiral staircase connecting First Class to the Upper Deck dining room. Toth has spent years scouring the world for authentic original Pan Am seats, tables, silverware, dishes, stemware, and serving carts as well as different sections of the plane and vintage uniforms. The recreation is absolutely perfect for as you enter the plane, you are immediately catapulted back to that luxurious time.
Before boarding the plane for our “flight to nowhere,” I checked in at the reception desk where tickets cost anywhere between $200-$300. I was issued a Pan Am Experience Boarding Pass for flight 811 to Hawaii, Seat 7J in Clipper Class. The reason for the Hawaii “destination,” is that the airline, which was in business from 1927-December 4, 1991, would have celebrated 50 years of flights to the island. Commemorating that event, lovely women, accompanied by a small band playing Hawaiian music, entertained us with traditional Hula dancing. It is said that Pam Am set the bar for glamour and sophistication as well as giving the masses the opportunity to travel. The “waiting room” is filled with historic memorabilia showcasing the people, places, and aviation paraphernalia germane to particular eras.
Pre-boarding drinks were served in the boarding area and soon an announcement was made that Flight 811 to Hawaii was now boarding First Class passengers. Everyone was elegantly attired, including some men in black tie and thankfully, for a change, not a flip-flop or cut-off jeans were anywhere to be seen.
Escorted to my seat by a beautiful young hostess wearing a uniform from the 1970s, I was delighted to see that a table sat between four seats – two on each side – offering a convenience of yesteryear. Kicking off the food service, a menu of libations was distributed which listed 18 choices – from sparkling water and Coca Cola to premium wines, champagne, and specialty drinks such as Mile High Mai Tai and Pam Am Punch made with fresh pineapple juice, sour mix, blue curacao liqueur, white rum, and vodka. Its description ends with “Puts a Puka Puka in your step! Indeed, a few of those, you’ll really be flying high.
Although the dinner recreated authentic food, the taste was far from what we use to call airplane food, which now actually consists of a bag of nuts and a beverage. A crisp tossed salad with prawns was the starter, followed by a delicious, tender Beef Wellington offered as one of the entrees. During the meal service, with songs from the Great American Songbook piped in, we were entertained with several fashion shows in which the hostesses turned into models and strutted through the different cabins wearing the uniforms that were standard from decade to decade. After a while, I have to admit that looking through the window with a fluffy cloud-filled sky painted on the outside, I began to feel like I was actually on a plane sans the constant roar of the engines, which, by the way, is available on request. Gone for this brief walk back in time are all the inconveniences associated with today’s travel.
Pan Am’s jingle was “Pan Am Makes The Going Great.” This experience will make the going lots of fun and would be a perfect way to celebrate a special occasion such as birthdays, anniversaries, bachelor or bachelorette parties or just for the plain or plane fun of it.
For Scheduling Information:
13240 Weidner Street, Pacoima, CA 91331
Other Air Hollywood Programs:
Fear of Flying
Open Sky For Autism
K-9 Training Program for Air Travel