The 747 aircraft ushered in a new era of flying with the ability to carry more than twice the passengers of previous planes. The first jumbo jet test flights landed in New York’s Kennedy airport on January 13, full of Pan Am crew, above, and family as test passengers. Despite the glamour we are nostalgic for, the launch wasn’t all smooth sailing — the new shorter uniforms, were disliked by the flight attendants for their tendency to ride up as they helped passengers put luggage in the overhead bins. And passenger pundits feared baggage and ticketing delays as airports tried to ramp up for the increased load of passengers.
Worst of all, the first official flight was delayed as the FAA made the airline prove they could evacuate so many additional passengers quickly. On the day the inaugural flight, due to take off for London, the flight was delayed 6 hours due to engine trouble. As officials struggled to fix the situation, all 362 passengers were treated to dinner on Pan Am’s dime at a nearby restaurants, the coach passengers alone ate up 150 pounds of steak and 225 pounds of lobster. (A little different from the stale tuna sandwich you might get today). This heralded a new and exciting era for fliers. “Passengers were respectful,” says Eleanor Ginsberg, a former flight attendant, “and in those days we had time to talk to them. We got the chance to discover so much — we could date people from all over.”
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