Pan Am Experience evokes glamorous days of air travel

By Thom Patterson, CNNUpdated 3rd December 2014
Remember when flying used to be romantic and glamorous?
No?
Back in the '60s and '70s, the airline industry had its challenges, but it also offered a lot of perks that travelers pine for today.
Like a full meal, served on real china, even in coach.
Like food that was more home-cooking than pre-packaged snack.
Like wide, comfy seats with plenty of leg room.
It all made travelers feel like they were doing more than simply hurtling through the air from Point A to Point B in a metal tube. It made them feel pampered. Flying proved that they were privileged.
Anthony Toth, host of the Pan Am Experience, offers visitors a chance to re-create that feeling aboard a Pan Am Boeing 747 without leaving Los Angeles.
Toth admits that he's obsessed with Pan Am. Visitors to the tourist attraction can see a collection of memorabilia that he's collected his entire life, such as branded carry-on bags, colorful luggage tags and warm blankets.
"I restored everything to look like it did back in the era of the '70s, when Pan Am was sort of in its heyday," Toth said.
The Pan Am Experience takes place in an airliner "cabin" designed to look like the jumbo jets that Pan Am flew back in the day. There's also a fake check-in counter.
For aviation enthusiasts, it sure looks like fun.
Settle into seats that make today's equivalent seem like furniture for hobbits.
Watch flight attendants glide through the cabin in retro uniforms. They wear hats! They sport white gloves! They greet each boarding "passenger" with a glass of champagne!
A time machine transports visitors to a day before humans ate with plastic sporks. The flight attendants will serve you a four-course meal, the old-fashioned way, with silverware. The only thing you can't do that you could do on planes back then is smoke.
It will remind you how much the airline industry has changed.
Yet there's one thing that hasn't changed: the sticker shock. Tickets for a Pan Am Experience "flight" range from about $200 to about $300.
The popularity of the Pan Am brand remains strong, decades after the airline went belly-up. ABC even tried a TV series in 2011, starring Christina Ricci, about a group of Pan Am pilots and flight attendants who enjoyed the glamorous, globetrotting lifestyle of the emerging jet set in the 1960s.
It appears the top-shelf passenger service of that era is gone forever, relegated to the likes of nostalgic TV dramas and specialty museums like the Pan Am Experience.
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