Skip to comments.In One Man's Garage, Pan Am Still Makes the Going Great
Posted on 11/02/2009 8:16:51 AM PST by 1rudeboy
Mr. Toth's First-Class Obsession Recreates Defunct Airline's Cabin (Spiral Stairs, Too)
Fliers nostalgic for the golden era of air travel might want to book a trip to Anthony Toth's garage.
Mr. Toth has built a precise replica of a first-class cabin from a Pan Am World Airways 747 in the garage of his two-bedroom condo in Redondo Beach, Calif. The setup includes almost everything fliers in the late 1970s and 1980s would have found onboard: pairs of red-and-blue reclining seats, original overhead luggage bins and a curved, red-carpeted staircase.
Once comfortably ensconced, Mr. Toth's visitors can sip beverages from the long-defunct airline's glasses, served with Pan Am logo swizzle sticks and napkins, plus salted almonds sealed in Pan Am wrappers. They can even peel open a set of plastic-wrapped, vintage Pan Am headphones and listen to original in-flight audio recordings from the era, piped in through the armrests.
Mr. Toth, a 42-year-old global sales director at United Airlines, has spent more than 20 years on his elaborate recreation of a Pan Am cabin, which includes a few economy-class seats, too. All told, Mr. Toth estimates he has spent as much as $50,000 on the project, which he hopes someday to turn into a museum.
"The brand was so powerful, he says. "They had this uncompromising standard of service."
To find artifacts from the airline, which ceased operation in 1991, Mr. Toth spends his vacations trekking out to an area in the Mojave Desert known as the airplane boneyard, where retired aircraft are stripped for parts. When he can't buy an original Pan Am item in good condition, like seat covers, he recruits professionals to create suitable stand-ins.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
Why am I not surprised? Nonetheless, that's 'merica!!!
Maybe he wants to relive a ‘mile high’ club experience
I was wondering how much time would elapse before someone sent this thread into the gutter.
How many stewardess stand-ins does he audition every month?
Reminds me of this.
I am not a jet-setter, but when I was a little girl and a teenager, we took family vacations to Hawaii and flew on Pan Am to Honolulu. Those flights were luxurious and wonderful, even for a twitchy little kid. The hostesses were kind and indulgent, and of course I thought they were the epitome of sophistication and beauty. If I went to sleep they would cover me with a blanket so delicately that I didn’t wake up. We were awarded little “wings” pins just for being on the flight. The food was incredibly good, and it was served on china with real, metal utensils, not plastic, and linen napkins. On one trip, the inflight meal was beef Stroganoff and I thought it was best thing I had ever tasted. They gave me a second meal and I ate that one, too. It used to be such a pleasure to fly, and now it is a totalitarian nightmare.
beat me to it...
My 1989 flight from Miami to Buenos Aires and Rio back to Miami were the two best flights I have ever had. I will always remember them!
Dollars to doughnuts he moved out of his mom’s basement. (under duress)
I’ve remember those days somewhat.Recently,we traveled in
Japan on ANA and was treated as a human being. I guess 99.00
to ca.doesn’t much airline?
I remember the golden age of air travel, which ended about 1982. Airlines were a genteel, comfortable, and dignified means of travel. The Civil Aeronautics Board regulated airfares, keeping the ticket price high enough to weed out the riffraff while ensuring a modest profit for each air carrier. As a result, the dozens of airlines that existed back then were forced to compete on service, not price; even coach class travel was luxurious by today’s standards.
Then the Feds deregulated the airlines. Tickets got cheaper, the riffraff flocked to the airports, profits plummeted, and the carriers began to die.
Ten years from now, there will be one U.S. airline — call it UnitedAmericanSouthwestDelta — and passengers who use it will be sedated and stacked like cordwood inside the jets.
Hooray for deregulation. It made air travel miserable, humiliating, and something to be avoided.
"Are you going to sit in that basement and build Pan AM cabins for the rest of your life?"
He seems a little obsessive-compulsive.
I miss the days that a roundtrip ticket to Los Angeles cost the same as an automobile. /s
I was lucky enough to fly JFK to Frankfurt via PanAm First Class just months before the bankruptcy and shutdown.
Food, drink and appetizer choices included pheasant (yes, pheasant!) or prime rib, a choice of fine French red or white Bourdeauxs, Champagne, escargotes, black caviar and amazing desserts.
After dinner selections included XO Cognacs, a choice of various single malt Scotch, vintage Port or botrytised Semillons.
It was the most unbelievable airline service I have ever experienced or will ever hope to see. Such service will be considered a distasteful relic of the post-bourgeoisie era...unless of course, you’re a guest at the WH or aboard AF-1, or an inner member of the Party.
coulda guessed that.
I was a kid back when air travel used to be a special event, something that everyone looked forward to. We would fly on vacations from Maine to Florida, always on Delta, and the service was incredible. Now you either pay quadruple the price to fly first class (which many flights have eliminated altogether), or you take a sedative a try and sleep through the hell of “modern” coach-level air travel.
Uh, when exactly was that?
It still does.........
I hope he checked his CC&Rs!
Southwest is my carrier of choice today. They're safe and run on time. I can fly the whole family anywhere for less than $500. With all the free tickets I earn over the course of a year my airfare expense for the semi-annual vacation is zero. Although I miss the good old days I prefer keeping my money in my pocket.
All that aside, this guy has one unusual hobby.
I was lucky enough to get bumped up to first class twice. Once, my boss made a big enough a$$ of himself with the station manager in Rio that the guy put us both in first class just to shut him up. A couple of months later, I was coming back from N’Djamena, Chad, to JFK via Paris. A guy was in line in front of me, and he didn’t have enough for his ticket to Tel Aviv. I ponied up about $20 in Francs and he got his ticket. I stepped up to the counter and the beautiful Parisian lady said to me in that delightful accent, “you, M’sieur, are going first class.” Immediate gratification. First Class really is the only way to travel.
Yep, air travel is now Greyhound with wings.
I’d have to have the flight deck intact. I bet we could get one from outside Tucson, but we’d have to pay for prep, transfer and set-up...a little pricey I’m sure.
dtc: With the great food we had in coach on Cathay Pacific to Asia, I’d bet their First Class is real good.
A flying bon apetite....
LOL! That’s what we call it, too! American’s “Flying Greyhound Service”.
The current #1 airline in the world is based in Singapore and they are still as uncomfortable as anything else, though the service is excellent.
Even two decades ago, flying was fun. It's not any more, just a nightmare that begins when you have to strip practically naked to go through the X-ray machine.
No, I posted this because I found it interesting. (Although I’ve been tweaking Mr. Toth a bit—but it’s his money to spend).
Anyone who wants to message me privately will hear the tale of the day that at six years old I discovered 'woman' on a PSA flight out of Los Angeles when the smoking hot PSA stewardess leaned over me to tie my little shoes.
A year later, the same trick worked with a Braniff stewardess who was even hotter.
Ah yes. I remember that. PSA was #1!
“The current #1 airline in the world is based in Singapore and they are still as uncomfortable as anything else”
It’s been about six years since I was flying overseas. Has SA fallen that much? When scheduling my flights, my first concern was transferring to an Asian airline as early in the process as possible.
In 1995 I took my wife to the Mayo Clinic; she suffered from MS and had difficulty walking. When we got to the terminal for the return flight, I seated her in a wheelchair and we reached the USAir desk in much less time than if she had walked the distance.
When the USAir people saw the wheelchair, they quickly ushered us past the boarding line and into first class, next to the cockpit (which was unlocked for the entire flight). We were served an excellent inflight meal with real flatware (I kept a spoon), china, and cloth napkins.
USAir showed real class that day. Of course, everything’s changed now.
I place the downward death sprial of airline service directly upon the low class humans who should have been relegated to the bus. Airline flight is the only place where I am forced to rub elbows with this trash, outside the DMV.
I believe the decay in good airline service is a direct result of the presence of this demographic.
I love them because they are not averse to laying a smackdown on unruly customers. Their management backs them up when they do this. I think that's awesome.
Once I was in the departure area after another major airline had gone into liquidation. It was the holiday season and there was a young male flight attendant from this failed airline hoping to get home.
I think he was a “new hire” but looked very professional still wearing his uniform. (Note: new hires did not, nor I think today make a lot, and it was clear that he could not afford to buy a full price ticket home.)
The gate agent, even though the departure lounge was chaos, told him he would get home gratis (on the jump seat if needed (OK in the old days the jump seat assignment was a bit out of the wild, wild west).
About this time a huffing and puffing pilot (from another airline) showed up and demanded the jump seat. The gate agent told him he would ask the Captain, but, he understood that the jump seat was already taken.
Then he turned to the now out of work flight attendant and said “Sir, will you come with me while I speak to the Captain”.
Guess who got left at the gate?
Air travel was once reserved for members of the middle and upper classes, whose dress and behavior reflected middle and upper-class values. And, while I’m not the type to classify anyone as “trash” based upon their economic status alone, I’d agree that reducing airfares has had the effect of making air travel economically possible for members of the lower-working class, who naturally display typical lower working-class behaviors, deportment, and attire when traveling.
Even though I grew up in a poor family, my parents insisted upon our dressing and behaving as middle-class people. We always wore our Sunday best when flying somewhere; in fact, I continued to wear a shirt and tie when traveling by air until 1995 or so. (Even today my wife and I wear business casual when circumstances force us to endure commercial airline travel.)
I, too, miss the days of dignified, comfortable air travel. Today, even the price of a first class ticket isn’t enough to buy the kind of quotidian luxury the airlines once provided. We are all the poorer for the loss.