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September 21, 2016

United Airlines Offered Men-Only "Executive" Flights Until 1970. Here’s the Manly Services They Offered!

Forget business class: If you were an upscale male traveler between 1953 and 1970, United Airlines wanted to offer you an entire "executive" plane.

The flights operated between New York and Chicago and between Los Angeles and San Francisco, came with complimentary cigars and specially prepared meals. They didn’t just ban women, but children also; and some services were co-branded with the Wall Street Journal.

These flights were operated by DC-6B aircraft and later Caravelles. Flights mostly operated at 5pm in each direction between the two cities. They offered ‘last minute message service’ (to make a call on behalf of the passenger back to the office) and the flights also had a teletype business news update with closing market prices.

The New York – Chicago flights operated between LaGuardia and Midway until around 1961. That’s when they switched to the Caravelle and flew from Idlewild (now JFK) to O’Hare, at the time that scheduled air service was in the process of transitioning away from Midway. On the New York side the Executive flight was later moved to Newark.

United used to claim, in its history, “10,500 segments, with a load factor of 80 to 90 percent” — not surprising, these flew key business routes at the most popular time.

Likely apocryphal but there’s a story that United sent vouchers to the wives of passengers on these Executive flights, “A special invitation for wives whose husbands like to fly” or something to that effect. They then surveyed those who redeemed the vouchers, and the most common response was “what flight?”

(Boarding Area, via Boing Boing)


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