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Remember Pan American?

Manchester, United...
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Remember Pan American?

This year is the 22nd anniversary of the closure of Pan American World Airways, and while it was slightly before my time, I still recognise that the sudden shutdown of one of the worlds biggest airline's was a big shock to the industry: aircharterservice.com/blog/the-22nd-annivers…

Did anyone ever fly Pan American? If so, what was your experience, and how did it compare with the airlines of today?

Romford, United...
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1. Re: Remember Pan American?

Only flew Pan Am in it's latter years(my girlfriend at the time,her father was a senior pilot on European routes) and got the distinct impression that the staff were just waiting for the inevitable and as such were not that motivated-service on the t/a wasn't great(by modern day standards below par) but then again the fares seemed lower than it's competitors (not that I always paid for my flights), really wish I'd had the opportunity to fly with them in it's heyday

Sydney, Australia
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2. Re: Remember Pan American?

Flew Sydney to LA via Fiji and HNL return in January 1977 to celebrate my sisters 21st Birthday.

Travelling on A "Jumbo Jet" was very exciting - but - As soon as we took off, the air conditioning unit above my sisters seat burst and showered her with freezing cold water. In those days you got all dressed up to fly - she was a wreck!

She couldn't leave her seat until we levelled off, and the FAs were wonderful - took her through "the curtains" to First Class, gave her a robe and treated her like a Princess for the entire trip...even after her clothes dried out!

Great memories for sure.

Dubai, United Arab...
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3. Re: Remember Pan American?

Traveled a lot with them when I was young. Have some found memories of the lounge upstairs on the 747. But then life goes on.

It is the same with Swissair which was one of the finest carriers in the world.

However premium cabin seats made some great progress since then. One could not imagine to have lay-flat beds and private cabins 20 years ago. Eco had a bit more space but basically one was reading. The 747 was the first aircraft on which I have seen a movie during flying.

The best memories I have was when for breakfast the crew would make scrambled eggs on a gas cooker in the galley. I think that was on Qantas (but don't attack me, if I mix this one up).

I also remember how one would smoke during flight.

Auckland Region...
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4. Re: Remember Pan American?

I think we flew Pan Am Honolulu to Tokyo in 1978. Service was good and apart from a few bumpy patches, so was the flight.

I remember seeing the film 2001 A Space Odyssey when it came out. I truly believed then, that Pan Am would have a shuttle in space in the 21st century.


Edited: 16 December 2013, 11:15
Bangkok, Thailand
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5. Re: Remember Pan American?

Oh yes, I remember Pan Am. Used them many times in F between Lagos and Nairobi. They offered great service, individually cooked meals. Nowadays, hardly any airline provides the very personal service PanAm and others used to offer.

Destination Expert
for Myanmar, Yangon (Rangoon), Ngapali, Tossa de Mar
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6. Re: Remember Pan American?

My enduring memory is my aircraft losing number 4 engine( on a PanAm 747 Classic) on take off out of Miami in '82.

Captain managed to abort takeoff,the fire was extinguished and we returned,surrounded by fire escort wagons,to the terminal.

Six hours later we boarded a replacement aircraft to be greeted by a reassuring Mid-West drawl of

"Hi Folks,shall we give it another try?"



I also got a PanAm voucher some years later when the airlines had to pay compensation for price fixing,I think it was £50 but I never used it.

Grovetown, Georgia
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7. Re: Remember Pan American?

My first flight overseas was JFK to Munich with a stop in Zurich back in May 1985. I remember it was very warm in New York, however when we landed it snowing in Munich. The snow wasn't sticking, but still it was much colder. There was a group of girls who were in shorts and t-shirts on the flight. They were pretty cold when landed and deplaned via stairs.

I flew them again in Dec 1985 flying JFK to Munich and return connecting to a flights from/to Boston. I remember the coach section was almost completely empty on the Munich-JFK leg and I had a row of three seats to myself on the 747. That made the flight really nice.

Being 6ft5 I never had an issue with the legroom. It certailnly seemed better than coach seats today. Then agian, I was younger and probably cared a lot less. The cabin on one of the 747 looked a bit old and tired, but the service was always good.

I also did a few flights on Pan Am from Frankfurt to Berlin-Tegel during the cold war days. Seeing the Berlin Wall from the air for the first time as we were approaching the airpoirt was quite sobering.

Fortaleza, CE
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8. Re: Remember Pan American?

Flew them LAX to Honolulu and back in 1964 with my family. No recollecitons of the flight. Flew them non-stop Dakar to JFK in 1985. Uneventful except that a few rows of seats had to be cordoned off due to a malfunctioning door.

22 years ago, I had reservations on Pan Am to fly from Washington, DC to LAX, via Miami to spend Christmas with my family (roundabout route but it was cheapest). I heard on the news that Pan Am was in big trouble, and wrote a letter to my folks in L.A. and said I didn't think my trip would be affected. By the time the letter got to them (pre-email days), Pan Am had ceased operation. Fortunately, Delta honored my ticket and I had an easy flight, with a change of planes at DFW.

Edited: 16 December 2013, 14:48
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9. Re: Remember Pan American?

Used to fly Pan AM A310 FRA-TXL on a regular basis.Always remember it as a good flight.Just enough time to drink a bottle of champers in F.

Of course I was young then.No chance now.

Seattle, Washington
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for Seattle
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10. Re: Remember Pan American?

I was sitting on a United DC-7 on the taxiway at Idlewild Airport (now JFK) waiting to take off to LA (9 hours) when the captain announced that we were in for a real treat - the arrival of one of the first Pan Am 707s from London - just off to the side of our plane. Like the other kids on board (I was 11) we pressed our noses against the windows, and waited... and waited... And then there were fire trucks and emergency vehicles all over the place as they laid down foam on the runway. Turns out the 707's main gear doors were frozen and they'd had to circle waiting for them to thaw before they could land, with fuel reserves really low. My first exposure to Pan Am.

I remember seeing my first 747 - Pan Am of course, parked at SFO in 1968. Awesome.

I rode on Pan Am a number of times between Seattle and London, between Frankfurt and Berlin (they were one of three airlines allowed to overfly East Germany) and between Seattle and Fairbanks, where they would ferry up for equipment/crew changes on Asia - New York services. I had my closest call to a midair collision one night in a PAA 707 flying to FAI. The southbound plane passed us around 1000 feet below and a couple thousand feet away, eliciting a rapid up/left bank on our plane's part. I had been talking with the deadheading PA pilot in the seat in front of me; after the close call I said to him, "Man, that was close."

His reply, "Closest ever for me." That from a guy with thousands of hours in his resume.

My wife recalls a PA flight from Hong Kong to Honolulu when one of the FAs dropped acid and started walking along the armrests up the aisle, singing. She was restrained.