Tag: travel books

The “Golden Age” of Air Travel Has Flown Away

The “Golden Age” of Air Travel Has Flown Away

Air travel.

Today we love to hate it.

But there was a time, still clear in the memory of living Americans, when flying was fun, glamorous, and the the way to travel.

Boeing 707The plane that changed the travel game for all of us, even those of quite modest means, was envisioned and constructed by a company based in my hometown, Seattle.

As a kid, I watched Boeing pilots take that four-engine beauty on test flights over the city.

But over a decade would go by before I found myself seated aboard one.

Ah, the Boeing 707, what a plane it was.

Don’t we wish U.S. airlines still had it up in the air.

If you were born on or after Halloween of 1983, you never had a chance to experience what it was like to ride aloft in a 707 operated by a American domestic carrier.

But both those who, like me, are old enough to remember that “magic carpet” airliner, and those who never set foot aboard one, have a chance to see what it was like “back in the day” when the 707 made “friendly skies” a reality.

Here’s how.

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Living in Space, Living on Earth

Living in Space, Living on Earth

Pam Mandel in Space Helmet
(Pam Mandel Facebook Photo)

Seattle-based travel writer and blogger, Pam Mandel, has traveled to Hawaii and plays the ukulele.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield has traveled to the International Space Station and plays the guitar.

This past weekend they came to Earth with their string instruments at the legendary San Francisco Bay Area bookstore, Book Passage in Corte Madera. They played and sang Elton John’s  “Rocket Man”  and discussed the movie Gravity during their conversation about Hadfield’s new book about his travels in space, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything.

While I circled the store’s parking lot looking for a place to land my “shuttle,” my wife walked into the store to secure us seats for the Hadfield-Mandel event. A couple of minutes later, after finding neither nook nor cranny in which we could sit or stand, she called me on her “communicator” to say “It’s a zoo in there!” Much chagrined, we drove home at something less warp speed.

But although I missed their “Live!” performance, I was able to watch that dynamic literary and musical duo in action via this YouTube video filmed at Book Passage.

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Bad Air: Is the Air Travel Experience Getting Worse?

Bad Air: Is the Air Travel Experience Getting Worse?

Is it just me, or is it getting more crowded in here?

That’s what I think when I fly in the “Coach” or “Economy” cabin of an airliner these days.

As it turns out, I’m not wrong. The “pitch” (which most passengers think of as “legroom”) between the seats in those cabins has decreased by about 3” (and, on some planes as much as 6”) during the last two decades.

Now I haven’t been carrying a retractable measuring tape with me when I fly, so that assessment on what I call the “Airplane Sardine-Can Factor” isn’t based on my own research. Instead, it comes from former FAA chief legal counsel, Mark Gerchick, whose new book, Full Upright and Locked Position: Not-So-Comfortable Truths about Air Travel Today, discusses why passengers keep paying more, but keep getting less comfort and service in return, when they travel by air.

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