In the 1950s and 60s in-flight entertainment (IFE) as we know it today was in its infancy and rudimentary. Although the first film was shown on an aircraft in 1921 it wasn’t until the 1960s that IFE became mainstream and popular.
In 1961, David Flexer of Inflight Motion Pictures developed the 16mm film system for commercial aircraft.
So let’s take a peek back through the archive vaults of AirlineRatings.com to reveal what travellers did to amuse themselves on those long flights in the 1950s and 60s.
The most popular pastime was, of course, reading – a good thriller, a romance or just catching up with the news in a newspaper because don’t forget there was no internet, FB or Twitter via WiFi.
When you weren’t reading, mealtime was a grand affair even in economy.
For those in First Class the meal was preceded by drinks at the bar.
Canapes may also be on offer for the “pearl set”.
Dinner was a multi-course affair served more often by stewards in white coat and back tie no less – and at your table.
After dinner or lunch, you might retire again to the lounge and meet the captain who would do the rounds. It was great PR to calm nervous flyers for passengers to chat with a multi-striped veteran who had experience etched in his rugged good looks.
Chess was always – and still is – a great way to pass the time and a good game could take hours but would only seem like minutes.
For those who wanted a simpler challenge maybe a game of drafts with mum and dad in economy.
Playing cards were also popular and airlines would issue them with logos, or pictures of planes or destinations that they flew.
Flight crew were always on the lookout for junior flyers and would explain the route the aircraft was taking. Millions of young flyers signed up for the various Junior Flyers clubs which came with log books of your travels and pilots would oblige and fill in the details of the flight.
Afternoon tea was a grand affair with full silver service with a collection of sweets and pastries that would tempt even the most resilient weight watcher.
When you weren’t playing cards you could use them to build a house. This was a popular PR shot to illustrate how smooth jet travel was compared to the piston-engine aircraft they replaced.
Banned today, smoking was very popular – particularly after dinner.