How Flying Has Changed Since the Golden Age of Travel

Do you remember the last flight you had? Have you ever boarded a plane since the onset of the pandemic? The norm has changed, flying business has continuously slowed down.  According to data from World Bank, there has been a steady increase in global air travel for a while now. For instance, between 2009 and 2019, airline’s revenue increased from $374 billion to $612 billion. However, the pandemic has since seen a decrease of 85% from 2019. COVID-19 regulations plus the fear of the spread of the virus are some of the reasons to blame.

The pandemic aftermath indicates one of the many essential changes that have occurred in this industry since the first flight in 1914, Florida. Air travel has continuously progressed forward; from extremely uncomfortable, unsafe flights to unlimited juice blends, live entertainment, meticulous meals and even private charter flights customized according to the client’s need in the “Golden Age of Travel”.

Air travel has gradually changed, both positively and negatively. For instance, reduced leg rooms, seating capacity, reduced fees and increased security measures (on the good side), and no meals on most flights to mention a few are characteristics of the current state of the industry.

So, hang on as we discuss more on how flying has changed since the “Golden Age of Travel”.


Woman sitting in a planeBack in the 1920s, cold foods were the order of the day, made up of fruit salads, sandwiches, and so on. A decade later, hot meals are being offered. Airline chefs prepared hot meals in kitchens aboard with a dining experience according to one’s preference. The ’70s even saw incredible changes with the menu inclusive of seafood, dessert, beef wellington, and much more.

An end to the “Golden Age of Travel” happened with the commencement of the contemporary age. International flights continued to experience full course meals contrary to domestic flights where you felt privileged to get a sachet of snacks.

Besides, recently, food served on international flights has been a disappointment for most customers, from under-cooked meals to little portions with claims of increased numbers of passengers. Before, costs were cut down, and air travel lacked competition with the cheaper airlines of today. As larger airlines fight to maintain affordable tickets, it has become expensive to serve everyone on board perfect meals.

Leg Room

Due to cut-throat competition, commercial aviation started offering more leg room for its passengers. Passengers could stretch out their legs and have room to lie flat like on a bed. The “Golden age of Travel” has since passed with legroom now something you wouldn’t fathom. Budget Airlines’ business model is to squeeze more passengers on board, never minding their comfort.


Previously (the 60s-70s), security was unbelievably negligent. Flights had poor security regulations, flight terrorism and hijacking were quite common. Besides, a report by BBC at that time indicated a hijacking of over 150 flights. But what would you expect with no identification, barely scanning of the bags, and anyone allowed in through the gates?

Fortunately, times have changed. the 9/11 terrorist attack changed flying forever! Since then, numerous security efforts have been implemented. By 2008, The US Transportation Security Administration had improved by installing advanced imaging technology. This was adopted by other airports and by 2016, 160 airports had similar security screening.


The “Golden Age of Travel” was characterized by tedious bookings. In those times, the internet was yet to become a vocabulary. Booking was done through travel agencies or directly by the airline offices, and afterward, tickets were offered through snail mail, printed or handwritten.

Lucky for us, the internet age has birthed an easy way to make bookings. Online booking with tickets sent via emails and texts are the new ways. The industry has increased its savings up to $3 billion from e-tickets.


Plane Flying Overhead

Did you know that during the “Golden age of Travel” only the wealthy could afford it? The nice food and boujee drinks came with a prize. Depending on the route, flights were four times more expensive compared to recent times. it was even worse for international flights.

Luckily, anyone can now afford to take a flight, thanks to growth in the industry. The past saw governments exercising a lot of power over the industry with control over routes and fares. Though governments still have a say in the industry, they have allowed the airlines to compete in the free market, hence the reduced costs.

Other Major Changes

  • In 1988, air travel was made smoke-free.
  • Cruising now is about 35,000 feet as compared to 10,000 feet in golden age flights.
  • Reduced flight duration. Golden age travels had numerous layover stops with much less speed as compared to current flights that have a speed of 500mph and perfect air traffic control.

Away from the “Golden age of Travel” where delicacies were standard experience, flying today has become cheaper, faster, safer, and accessible. Modern tech offering such onboard Wi-Fi has made flying much better with offerings such as onboard entertainment or streaming service availability for smart devices. These and numerous other aspects make modern flying quite enjoyable still.