Let’s Talk with Terry Ambrose

Boeing company Boeing 707 N68657

From a historic flight to a necessary evil
by Terry Ambrose

If you were to check the calendar for what happened on July 15 in history, you wouldn’t find a lot of good news. There was the Mars Mariner 4 flyby in 1965 that gave us our first look at the red planet. As a kid who read science-fiction and dreamed of one day flying to the stars, the flyby was very cool. But if you’re a traveler—come on, I know you’re out there!—another event on this date in 1954 might have even more meaning for you. It was the maiden flight of America’s first jet airliner, the Boeing 707. That flight, of course, paved the way for the luxury of commercial flight as we know it today.

From luxury to economy…and below

A long time ago, in what feels today like a different lifetime, flying was a luxury. Those were the days when it was fun. It was cool. And you could get to some awesome places in hours, not days! I can remember our first flights to Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines. The seating was spacious, the flight attendants were…well, attentive. The food was, for lack of a better term, actual food. Contrast that against our last return flight from Hawaii in 2019 when we were crammed into seats with barely enough legroom for a child, the flight attendants mostly ignored us and sometimes got a little cranky, and we heard the food was awful. (We carry on our own food these days.)

Treasure Most Deadly by Terry AmbroseI’d love to return to Hawaii next year, but I no longer look forward to getting on a plane. I consider commercial air travel to be a necessary evil, something to be endured, not enjoyed. What about you? Do you still enjoy air travel? Or are you fed up and done with it? 

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Comments

  1. I remember the brand new days of commercial flying, but what I remember most, instead of the comfort and good food, was how everyone dressed up for flights back then. I’m talking the equivalent of church or business attire. No one would dream of wearing shorts, jeans, flip flops, mini skirts, and whatever passes for okay in today’s world. My go-to attire for flights is comfort clothing. I don’t want to have to fumble with buttons and zippers in airplane bathrooms when I have a backpack on. I go for easy up and downs! Must be aging out…

  2. I have actually only flown once, And I’m fairly certain that my husband told me that he was told that I had no life signs during the 10 minute Life Flight from Warren County, Tennessee to Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. And apparently I was the 2nd time that they had ‘maxed out’ the chopper. I was given a 3% chance of ‘survival’ initially. I survived! I was at Erlanger for right at a month. I do not have any memories of my time there or of the beginning of my time at Baptist Rehab in Nashville, Tennessee. I don’t remember being taught how to walk again. I do have a few glimpses into my memories of speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. But I don’t remember it all. And absolutely no memory of Life Flight!

  3. debbiejpruss says

    We went to Florida in March many years ago by airplane to celebrate a milestone birthday. (I am not going to say which one.) We had to take two planes. We were cramped in both. We rented a car. We turned the car back in. In the process of getting our luggage and items out of the car, I left the camera in the rental car. I did not realize it until we were half way to our flight terminal. I had to return to the rental area. Luckly the camera had been turned in. We were able to make our flight on time so we could make the connecting flight.

    When returned to Toledo, Ohio, it was snowing. We had left our winter coats in the car. Since I drove, I was the one who had to go get the car without a coat. I ended up cleaning off the car before I went back to the terminal to get my Mom and husband. It will be a trip I will never forget.

  4. I’m with you, Terry. I hate flying now but used to enjoy it. I’m dreading a trip to CA in the fall. If at only 5 feet tall, I’m cramped in coach, I can’t imagine how those who are not vertically challenged deal with being folded up in knots for 6 hrs.

  5. I have no desire to fly anywhere these days even though we have credits from a cancelled flight. It’s too much of a hassle. I, too, remember the days of hot meals on airplanes served on trays by uniformed hostesses. People got dressed up to go on flights. It was an exciting event, not an aggravation like it is today.

  6. My first flight was solo to New Orleans, Louisiana, to start my adult life. Got in fine but my luggage flew to New York! I only had the hanging good clothes and no necessities for a woman of 19. The porter for the hotel I was to be staying at offered to take me to the closest store. It was basically a liquor store with a few odds and ends. Long t-shirt, water, and a small bottle of whiskey was all I had actual cash to buy. The porter came up after his shift was over and we actually sat and talked until about 2 am. (I still had to find a way to contact my brother who was living there but gave the the wrong phone number to contact. That is another story complete with learning how down deep people are kind!)

  7. My husband and I love to travel, but I would happily skip through flights. We aren’t ready to fly again, so travel that was canceled last year, is still deferred. I loved Hawaii and want to return. Maybe someday …. My travel story is a personal disaster, not an airline one. Years ago, maybe 20, my family was flying to California, back when seats were larger (or were we smaller?) and food was very good. We got complimentary champagne! My husband leaned over me to show me something we were flying over, dumping his glass in my lap. Fortunately, it was a long enough flight for my slacks to dry out before we disembarked but I didn’t enjoy wearing sticky panties for the 1 1/2 hour drive to our destination!

  8. cherylhollon says

    Hi Terry, I’m addicted to flying. After all, it was my payroll career for more than two decades. My last flight was to see my family in Ohio. I realized then how much I had missed it. I’m looking forward to my trip to New Orleans for Bouchercon.

  9. Can’t say it’s the worst experience, because things were rectified, but on the morning of our return flight from Dublin, I saw a morning message on my phone (by chance) saying our seats were changed. Now, this was our 50th anniversary trip, and we’d splurged on first class all the way. The change of seats was from the first class section somewhere back in row 31. Took some time to get through to the right number and they apologized that it was a change in aircraft without enough first class seats. I didn’t accept the apology–I can’t travel long distances in coach, not to mention the meals (they DO serve good food up front), An agent was able to get us the last 2 1st class seats on another flight, but it meant a longer layover in NYC, and we couldn’t sit together. No big deal; the Hubster sleeps all the way, anyway. Delta also sent us a big spa supplies gift afterward; towels, scrubbers, soaps, lotions. But they could have CALLED when they changed our arrangements, or just put us on the different plane. It left at almost the same time.
    So, all was well, but it COULD have been a disaster.

    • Hawaiian did the same sort of thing to us once. They cancelled a flight and didn’t notify us. In our case, I caught it far enough in advance that we could move things around, but that sort of thing is very frustrating indeed!

  10. dianestuckart says

    I do recall the olden days when it was fun to fly. Now, however, I totally agree that traveling by air is definitely a necessary evil. I much prefer to drive — I can stop and start as I wish, carry as much stuff with me as I want, don’t have to rent a car at my destination, and don’t have to be patted down prior to making my journey. The only advantage with flying is speed, and sometimes that is negated by the 2 hours early you need to allow for parking, checking bags, and getting through security.

  11. Sarah Woodhouse says

    I’ve never been on an airplane before, being afraid of heights I’m sure I ever will go on one. However, that being said, one of these days I would dearly love to seek out some of my roots and travel to Scotland, Ireland, and England. So who knows? Your book cover is lovely!

    And as far as ‘bad travel’ stories, well, pretty much all my traveling has resulted in something going wrong. I suppose that’s just part of it. 😂