Who remembers Pan Am? It was a famous airline, and I sadly miss it and now only have my memories of it!
When my business visits to the Orient became more often and regular, I created a relationship with the most famous Airline of the time called, Pan Am World Airways. where I was treated royally and had special privileges with them. In those days, there was no “Business Class” as you know it today, where you pay extra if you want to sit in that section.
Most Airlines offered special privileges to their regular business travelers, where seats in the center of their planes were reserved for them, with curtains separating that section in back and front from other passengers being directly behind First class. Pan Am had the same on their planes, but went a lot further, as no matter where I traveled someone from that local Pam Am office would be there to greet me and ask how they could help me. Usually I would need a place to hang out awaiting for another flight, either on Pan Am or some other airline. They would invite me into their special Pan Am lounge, called “The Clipper Club” to wait. At the club all amenities were freely offered with drinks and snacks that anyone might desire, as well as having a charming staff that ran it. In those days, being politically correct didn’t exist, so Stewardess’s had to be beautiful, well shaped, with a lovely manner to even be considered to be hired by the airlines. With my visiting the club so often, the local staff at each airport I traveled to knew me and would discuss my plans for the trip and how they could best help out. Many times in the lounge there would be some dignitary or well know person, or persons, where some would be friendly, and others standoffish! Bianco, me, would never give up and always made an extra effort to be friendly to everyone in the club lounge. Because the staff knew me so well, they would always happily greet me like I was their friend not just another customer. Usually there would be some traveling executive of Pan Am that they would introduce me to, and all would be like family, and that person would personally accompany me to the plane door, put me aboard to a place reserved for passenger like myself, thank me and leave me comfortable with a glass of champagne. One time after the hellos and introductions, I was walking about the room when who should be sitting in a quiet corner but Dustin Hoffman. Naturally, I went over to him, as I would to any passenger in the club but not like he was someone special, but just like another friendly traveler. At first he was shocked, then he relaxed as he realized I was just being friendly and not the usual gloppy greeting he got from people admiring a very famous person. We talked about how great it was to travel with Pan Am and actually, before long, we were the only people left in the lounge as our plane to Bangkok would be delayed for another three hours. They asked if we would be alright without them as the lounge normally closed after all Pan Am flights were gone. Since we were flying on Thai Airways, they could have asked us to leave, but they said to relax till our flight was ready and some other staff member would close up. Dustin and I talked about what we were doing when in Bangkok, I talked of my business dealings and he going to meet his fiance. We had few more drinks at the bar, and finally went to catch our flight, and thereafter onto our separate ways.
That was Pan Am Airways, so why would they eventually be forced to shut down? I never found out why, but I direly missed them, as never again would an airline have such service. United Airlines tried but in no way could compare. Delta Airlines took over all Pan Am assets and gave me their lounge entry card, but in no way did it even come close to “PAN AM”. It was the beginning of ,,, The End of an Era!! and here is the why?
Pam American World Airways
(Pan Am) was founded in 1927 as a scheduled airmail and passenger transport carrier servicing routes between Florida and Havana, Cuba. Pan Am’s use of jet aircraft, jumbo jets and and their advanced reservation system helped shape the whole commercial airline industry. An important part of Pan Am’s success was its highly trained staff of pilots, flight crews, mechanics, and support staff. The 1973 energy crisis impacted Pan Am, with higher fuel costs and a decreased demand for air travel. The 1986 hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 in Pakistan and the 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 above Lockerbie, Scotland did irreparable damage to the airline’s reputation. The Gulf War, which began in 1990, further decreased demand for international air travel and Pan Am began selling off its most profitable routes. Unable to continue a profitable business, Pan Am ceased operations in December, 1991.