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Mad Men for the skies

Remember flying before low cost airlines dominated the skies? When drinks were free and served by friendly stewardesses?
No neither can our medical conditions travel insurance customers – but thankfully the new BBC2 drama Pan Am starts tonight (dubbed the Mad Men of the skies) to inject some glamour back to the continental flying experience.  The series is set in 1963 when flying was seen as luxurious, and ‘air hostess’ was the career most young women aspired to be part of, jetting-setting across the globe. Nostalgic moments of airline staff really interacting with their passengers, even to the point of playing card games with them, will be quite a shock to some viewers.
We shouldn’t be too critical of the modern airline staff, many of whom probably grew up with the same dreams of the trolley dolly lifestyle. Travelling abroad and being allowed the ubiquitous ‘stop-over’ in a foreign city on the company payroll is still an excellent selling point for the job.
Australian author and journalist Clive James wrote in his wonderful travelogue book Flying Visits that Singapore Airlines had the best air staff. He wrote: “Unless you are flying with Singapore Airlines, whose stewardesses really are as advertised. They are far more beautiful than they need to be and in First Class there seem to be two of them assigned to each passenger, filling him continuously with delicious food and bursting discreetly into tears if he stops eating.” A dream scenario!
However the modern flying experience and the modern traveller are far different from the 1960s and 1970s. Terrorism and health and safety regulation mean the training of air cabin crew must be far more rigorous. Understanding passengers needs goes further today than knowing whether the passenger prefers lemon or lime in his or her G&T. 
Many airline crew have to deal with passengers who are travelling with severe medical conditions such as cancer and diabetes, and flying with a medical condition can cause the passenger and their companions stress and anxiety.  Insurancewith’s travel insurance with medical conditions customers have often expressed how grateful they have been for well-trained cabin crew, it can make all the difference particularly when flying long haul.
But tune in tonight and reminisce about those Pan Am Smile years.


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