Monday, October 31, 2011

A Return to the Friendly Skies?

Truth is, I’m not a big TV watcher. I usually only follow one or two shows a year and anything else I just catch at random if I’m vegging out on the couch after a long day. This year I seem to even be slacking on my regular favorites – Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and the Amazing Race. So far the only regular show I’ve watched this year is American Horror Story (CREEEEEPY!).

What does any of this have to do with travel? Good question. A friend of mine convinced me yesterday that I should start watching the new show, Pan Am. I thought the show’s billboards on the Sony Studio building looked really enticing, but I never could remember when the show was on so I’ve missed all 5 episodes that have aired so far. Well, yesterday I found myself with a bit of free time so I jumped on Hulu and kicked off the Series Premier episode. Damn…I’m already hooked!

I managed to sneak in two episodes on Sunday (kept me up way past my bedtime) and I hope to catch up on the rest of them before the end of the week so I can start watching the series in real time. Pan Am is not exactly intellectually challenging and I’m sure there are a few feminists out there who would bristle at the blatant support of woman as eye candy and dutiful servant. I’m also quite sure I’ll be holding my breath for a long, long while if I expect to see anyone that looks even vaguely like me in a role other than maid or driver, but still I can't stop watching it.

I’m more hooked on the idea of bringing glamour back into travel. The pride in working for the airlines, the clean and comfortable airline seats, the joy of taking a trip and seeing the world (and the subplot of a female spy is pretty darned fun as well). Also, the women are really only eye candy and servants to those who have not yet opened up their minds. In their own heads, these women are adventures, hard workers and a key part of the growing airline industry.

I still get a thrill as start to prepare for a flight to an overseas destination. But that thrill is due to the image of the experience that I have in my head (Pam Am) and rarely the actual flight I end up taking. It’s funny how I can fool myself every time I head to the airport, even though 90% of the time I’m disappointed in more ways than one (dirty seats, rude passengers and flight attendants, being charged for every nut and ice cube I’m given).

It is rare that a TV show will change the world in any measurable way, but I can only hope that with a weekly hour reminder of how flying the friendly skies used to be, maybe a bit of that class, warmth and hospitality will rub off and start to seep back in to the airlines. Tune in and see what changes may come.

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