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21 Things From the ‘70s That Wouldn’t Fly in Today’s Travel Scene

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Picture this: you’ve just stepped into the ‘70s, a time when travel seemed less about the destination and more about the journey. You’re surrounded by wide-collared shirts, the hum of conversation without the distraction of smartphones, and a sense of freedom in the air that’s as thick as the airplane’s cigarette smoke. But let’s not get too sentimental. As groovy as the era was, there are some relics of ‘70s travel that would leave today’s travelers utterly gobsmacked. Ready to take a peek behind the beaded curtain into a world where the only thing more free than the love was the in-flight alcohol policy? 

1. Smoking on Planes

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Image Credit: Pexels / Megan Forbes

Ah, nothing says relaxation like a lungful of secondhand smoke at 30,000 feet. Back in the day, lighting up a cigarette mid-flight was as common as losing your luggage. Nowadays, you’d be lucky to even get away with a vape in the airport bathroom.

2. Zero Security Checks

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Gorodenkoff

Remember when you could walk all the way to the gate without removing your shoes, belts, or dignity? The ’70s were a free-for-all, where the only thing you had to declare was your love for rock ‘n’ roll.

3. The Mad Men of Air Travel

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Svitlana Hulko

Pilots and flight attendants partied like rockstars—because they were the rockstars of the sky. The cockpit was less about strict regulations and more about who had the best aviators and mustaches.

4. Psychedelic Plane Decor

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / izfoto

Airlines didn’t just transport you; they tripped you out with vibrant paisley patterns and colors you’d swear you were flying inside a lava lamp.

5. Hitchhiking: The Preferred Mode of Travel

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Image Credit: Pexels / Ekaterina Belinskaya

Thumbing a ride from strangers was considered an adventure, not a one-way ticket to becoming a true crime podcast subject.

6. Unleaded? What’s That?

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Pavel Kubarkov

Rental cars guzzled leaded gasoline like it was going out of style—mainly because it was. The environment? Never heard of her.

7. Boozy Pilots

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Robalito

The term “fly sober” was more of a suggestion than a rule. The cockpit had more in common with a dive bar than the flight decks of today.

8. Over-the-Top In-Flight Meals

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / 1st footage

In-flight dining was an extravagant affair, with meals that might include a roast on a carving board. Today, you’re lucky if you get pretzels and a full can of soda.

9. The Free-For-All Seating Chart

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / ESB Professional

Assigned seating? Please. It was a mad dash to grab the best seat, making today’s “boarding groups” look like a highly organized ballet.

10. Carry-On Chaos

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / NikomMaelao Production

Without strict regulations, carry-ons could be anything from a boombox to your pet rock. Overhead bin? More like a garage sale in the sky.

11. Fashion-Forward Flight Attire

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Feruzbek

Flight attendants’ uniforms were straight off the runway, with miniskirts and go-go boots that said, “I may serve drinks, but I’m also serving looks.”

12. Jumbo Jets as Party Planes

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV

The Boeing 747 was basically a flying discotheque, complete with bars and lounges. Today’s flights have all the ambiance of a dentist’s waiting room.

13. Kids Running Wild

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Andrey_Popov

Modern-day parents strap their kids into seats like they’re launching into space. In the ’70s, kids roamed free, turning the plane into a playground at 20,000 feet.

14. Lax Luggage Rules

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Africa Studio

Bringing three steamer trunks and a surfboard? No problem. Today, you’d be paying more in baggage fees than for your actual ticket.

15. The Golden Age of Hijackings

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Thaspol Sangsee

With security so lax, hijackings were more common, turning a simple flight into a potential international incident. Now, you can’t even bring a full-sized toothpaste onboard.

16. Fuel-Guzzling Flights

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Ivan Marc

Fuel efficiency? Never heard of her. Flights in the ’70s were about as eco-friendly as a coal mine.

17. Exotic Animal Souvenirs

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / AJR_photo

Returning home with a parrot or monkey was considered cool, not a biohazard or a wildlife crime.

18. Sexist Advertising

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Shine Nucha

Airlines sold the allure of their “attractive” flight attendants, making today’s marketing look like a feminist manifesto.

19. All the Booze You Can Handle

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Master1305

Free-flowing alcohol made flights bearable for many. Today, too many mini bottles, and you’re cut off faster than you can say “turbulence.”

20. Frequent Flyer? More Like Frequent Smoker

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Matej Kastelic

Air miles were less of a thing than air-quality miles—how many cigarettes you could smoke between takeoff and landing.

21. Paper Tickets as Artifacts

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / NFstock

Your ticket was a physical, lose-able thing, not a QR code. Losing it meant you were literally going nowhere.

Traveling Through Time: A No-Fly Zone

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Ekaterina Pokrovsky

So, there you have it—21 relics of ’70s travel that today would have you grounded before you could say “groovy.” While we may look back fondly on the era of free love and even freer travel norms, it’s safe to say some things are better left in the past. After all, who needs a smoke-filled cabin when you’ve got Wi-Fi?

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The post 21 Things From the ‘70s That Wouldn’t Fly in Today’s Travel Scene was republished on Passing Thru with permission from The Green Voyage.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Vlad Teodor.

For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.

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