The Pan Am Experience is ready for takeoff

Pan Am ExperienceTGIF, everyone! Here’s a fun one to wrap up the week: Remember when, back in the yee olden days, airplane travel was… glamorous? Now, Air Hollywood’s new attraction — The Pan Am Experience — offers wannabee time-travelers the opportunity to “relive the magic of flying onboard a luxurious Pan Am 747″ — without ever leaving the ground.

Pan Am ExperienceFrom the press release:

Air Hollywood Announces the Launch of “The Pan Am Experience”

Specialty motion picture studio teams with Pan Am enthusiast Anthony Toth to bring retro airline service to Southern California.

Pan Am Experience

LOS ANGELES -­‐ Air Hollywood, a Los Angeles-­‐based motion picture studio specializing in aviation-­‐themed content, and Anthony Toth, film & television aviation prop master, together announce the launch of The Pan Am Experience – a service that promises patrons to “relive the magic of flying onboard a luxurious Pan Am 747.”

Pan Am ExperiencePan Am Experience

Within Air Hollywood’s unique aviation-­themed film studio, an exact interior replica of a Pan Am Boeing 747 sits, complete with both the First & Clipper Class Cabins and Pan Am’s famous Upper Deck Dining Room. The airplane is outfitted with all the furnishing of this golden era of travel, including the classic spiral staircase that connects First Class to the Upper Deck as well as all the cabin décor that made the airplane so special, including authentic China, linens, and stemware from Pan Am.

Pan Am Experience

Flight attendants will provide cocktail and dinner service to the mock travelers while playing a movie from the overhead projection system. After the “flight,” patrons can peruse a vast collection of airline memorabilia, shop for licensed Pan Am merchandise, and visit Air Hollywood’s other movie sets and props used in hundreds of films, television shows, and commercials for the past forty years including the original cockpit used in the Paramount Pictures classic “Airplane!”

Pan Am Experience

The first Pan Am Experience [took place] Saturday, September 20, with a total of seven events scheduled through the end of the year. The Pan Am 747 is also available for filming and private event rentals. For more information about The Pan Am Experience, visit

Pan Am Experience

About Air Hollywood
Air Hollywood is the world’s premiere aviation-­‐themed motion picture studio, having served hundreds of feature films, TV shows, and commercials for the past fifteen years. For more information, please visit

About Anthony Toth

Anthony began his career in the airline industry in 1987 and joined Air Hollywood in 2013. He has become Hollywood’s key contributor for vintage aviation props in both television and movie production. He is well known in the industry for his preservation of the Pan Am brand and restoration of a Pan Am 747 aircraft.

What a wonderful idea — and a such a fun way to learn more about the history of American aviation through experiencing it first hand. Now, who is planning a trip?

Photos copyright Michael Kelley.


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  1. Mary Elizabeth says

    What fun! Have to put this on my list of California dreams. Besides the movie ( I would choose _ConAir_), I would like to have a copy of Erica Jong’s _Fear of Flying_ in the seat pocket. A little cocktail, and we’re all set!

    But, ugh! Notice the lady smoking. I remember when you could actually buy cigarettes on the plane. I think there were four or five to the pack. And there was a “smoking section,” which is a joke, because the whole cabin was filled with smoke.

  2. midmichigan says

    Ahhh, back in a time when there were fewer people and far more civility. Great post that brings back old memories. Perfect for TGIF, Kate.

  3. linda h says

    I loved when ABC had the television program “Pan Am” a couple of seasons ago! And this looks like fun also. I need to buy me some Pan Am merchandise!

    • Janet in ME says

      My thoughts exactly, Linda! I could get to use my vintage Pan Am carry on bag, that is tan with bright blue and orange lettering! This is a great idea for those of us who are acrophobics and afraid to fly, to get to experience it on the ground, and in a vintage setting yet! But alas, that’s a long drive from Maine to see it!

      • nina462 says

        I really liked that tv show PanAm. I’d like to go back & fly that way too….however, not with the smoking in such close quarters (!). It would be nice if we dressed up to fly….and not wear pajama pants everywhere.

        Meanwhile – we need a Pam update!

  4. Geronimom says

    You know you’re getting old when your former occupation is now considered “retro”! This really takes me back – in a good way. For a decade, I flew for TWA – Pan Am’s main competition at the time. This was a few years after this after the above timeframe, but thankfully I was fortunate enough to still catch the tail end of the “glamour” era. Our 747 first class configuration looked EXACTLY like this – only with different seat colors – & uniforms. How well I remember doing that first class international service, too…. Upon boarding & after having their jackets hung up, each passenger was given a welcome card at their seat with a flower and offered a drink of their choice, usually champagne. After takeoff, we would offer drinks again & then come around with a cart laden with smoked salmon, finely chopped onions, capers, egg yoke, caviar, little toasts and vodka – served very cold in a block of ice. Later, for dinner, we would cook individual meals to order and then pass thru the cabin with an elegantly set up cart complete with a freshly cooked Chateaubriand (which we would then carve & serve individually at each passenger’s seat – praying for no turbulence during the carving process!), small crisp potatoes and an assortment of veggies – along with a selection of fine wine. This was followed by a fruit and cheese tray offering and an assortment of enticing deserts – including hot fudge or butterscotch ice cream sundaes! Then, to wind things up, after dinner we served coffee and liqueurs. And only a few hours later we started all over again with a full breakfast prior to landing! This little article pretty much pegs it:

    Yes, those were the days of classy travel before deregulation happened and airline travel became simply a competition of who could cut the most from their service & still retain that high paying business passenger. And now, Delta Air Lines doesn’t even HAVE a dedicated First Class – only business & coach. I did read the other day, tho, that a few other airlines (American?) are trying to offer – for a very hefty price (!)- a higher end first class service once more in attempt to entice those biz customers.

  5. Jacki says

    When I was a child, my dad worked for an airline and we traveled a lot. I can’t ever remember anyone ever getting on an airliner that wasn’t dressed up like they were going to church. We always wore our nicest clothes and shoes and Yes, I had a round travel case with a looped handle and Mom and Dad had carry ons that said “Bonanza” and “Hughes Air West”. I sure miss those days.

  6. linda h says

    Last Christmas my daughter bought me a poster of the PanAm tv show to put on my craftroom wall. I might need to upload a picture of my mid- century sofa-sleeper with the mid-century sewing cabinet being used as an end table with a mid-century lamp on it and my Pan Am poster above it. Maybe this Christmas I will ask for Pan Am luggage or handbag.

  7. PF Flyer says

    Only in Hollywood would a business like this exist. Are you allowed to call the flight attendants stewardesses? (in keeping with the retro theme?)

  8. Tracy says

    in 1962 when I was 8 my family flew from NYC to Mexico City. My father wore a suit and tie, my mother her best dress and gloves,we three daughters had new dresses and patent leather shoes just for teh flight. how times have changed! We arrived in Meico City to be greated by a tray of dauquiries and Shirly Temples. White peacoks roamed the airport gardens!

  9. Samantha Anastasiou says

    What happened? Why is there so much digression in our society! I do know that our own country helped cause the collapse of Pan Am. The stewardesses loved working for them, they all took out an ad in The NY Times shaming the FAA for making Pan Am pay exorbitant fees for their terminals while charging foreign airlines much less… when they lost International business, they faltered as they were not set up for domestic as much…. I knew a Pan Am stewardess….

    • Geronimom says

      Ah – a question dear to my heart! What happened? Well, maintaining a profitable airline ain’t cheap! Airlines have to pay for that Jet fuel, newer aircraft, personnel, maintenance, etc. Once deregulation occurred, because of “competition”, lower fares for the traveling public became more common. However, the airlines soon then had numerous low fare competitors to compete with (i.e.Southwest, Air Tran, etc.). Despite the need to compete, they STILL had to make their bills. So what’s gonna give? People nowadays don’t want to pay more than a certain amount to get from point A to point B…Surprisingly, if you compare vintage airline ticket prices from years ago to ones now, if adjusted for inflation & despite new added costs (new security measures, etc.), you will find that the costs of the vintage ticket was actually much higher. People were willing to pay those prices back then as there was no alternative – however they expected a certain quality of service for that price. And they got it. However, now, because of all the competition out there, airlines cannot raise their prices too much or the public will just find another, less expensive airline to fly. I remember once being concerned after hearing a frustrated passenger exclaim the immortal words that they were “never going to fly this airline again”, having a gate agent remark to me not to worry – people these days would “fly a motorized donkey if the price were right”! Sadly, she was right. How many times have YOU gone on some fare search engine seeking the lowest price on a flight – then been surprised by all of the additional “fees” tacked on at the end? Airlines know people look for the lowest prices, so that’s what they try to give them. But…in order to do that with the cost of jet fuel constantly going up and still having to make their other necessary operating costs, they have to cut back somewhere. Where? Should it be in safety? Certainly not. More passengers crammed into the same space? Salaries/ hours of personnel? No – you definitely get what you pay for there, unfortunately! Fewer routes? Meals? Baggage fees?? Like any business, airlines DO have to make some kind of profit. Their cost per available seat mile (CASM) remains the same regardless of whether the flight is full or empty – so, why not reduce the frequency of flights, cram in more seats and fill up all the the remaining flights? Well… We all know how that turns out. Disgruntled, uncomfortable passengers! But not uncomfortable enough to be willing to pay higher ticket prices, unfortunately! So the airlines do what works – and the flying public – who demanded more competition and deregulation back in 1978 – now have exactly what they asked for! Try comparing a U.S. airline these days to a foreign one that is government/state owned. The difference is stark. There is a reason that, of the top 20 airlines rated in the world last year, there was not a single U.S. carrier listed! Bottom line is that unless the flying public becomes willing to shell out more $ for a better product – or deregulation is done away with ( yeah, right!) then what we have now as far as air travel is concerned is pretty much the “new normal”. I am SO glad I was able to be a part of the aviation world before it’s disintegration into what we have now! Having known how it was in the past, I think I’d be willing to pay a bit extra for a tad more civility these days!

      • pam kueber says

        Warren Buffett has been quoted saying that cumulatively as a group, airlines have lost money. That is, put them all together and tally their “earnings” and the number is in the red. Airlines are money pits.

        • Geronimom says

          Unfortunately, what people nowadays don’t seem to understand is why the quality of service is so much lower in the U.S. airline industry, even considering the lower cost of ticket prices. I try to explain that in the past, before deregulation, government set the prices and routes for the airlines and made them virtually the same on all carriers. So by having price taken out of the equation, the only way left to attract customers to a particular airline was by the quality of its service – hence all of the over-the-top one upsmanship you saw back in the day: cocktail lounges on board, “sexy stews”, gourmet meals, tons of legroom, etc. Now that price has become the main deciding factor, outstanding service is no longer the main focus.

          In answer to airlines not being moneymakers, this from an old USAtoday article:

          “So why is it so hard to make money running an airline?
          — Planes are expensive. A Boeing 737’s list price is about $80 million; leasing one costs about $300,000 a month.
          — Oil prices are volatile. Fuel is an airline’s largest expense. American paid an average $2.32 for a gallon of fuel last year; it expects to pay $3.01 this year. Yes, some drivers pay more for gas, but consider this: American used 2.5 billion gallons of fuel last year.
          — Pilots, mechanics and other employees have very specialized jobs demanding higher salaries. Government regulations and union contracts limit the length of workers’ shifts, often creating logistical challenges.
          — Recessions. When businesses fold or vacationers lose jobs, the airlines lose passengers.
          — The uncontrollable. Snowstorms, volcanic ash clouds, earthquakes, outbreaks of diseases like SARS and terrorism can ground planes or scare away passengers.

          Besides all of that, airlines have to worry about what their competition does. If one carrier cuts fares, everybody else usually matches — even if it cuts into profits — because they know fliers will go for the airline that’s $10 cheaper.
          Then there’s the brash, eager, entrepreneur who decides to siphon away passengers with a hip, new airline offering deeply-discounted tickets.”

          The article goes further on to ask: “So, if it’s such a tough business, what makes anyone go into it? “It’s not making toilet paper,” Burr said. “It’s a very sexy business. I don’t think that necessarily attracts the best and brightest, which probably go to Silicon Valley and universities and medicine … that’s probably part of why the industry has problems.”

          Bwaahaahhaa! Sad – but probably more true than not these days!

          • pam kueber says

            I love airline travel in America today — it is SO INEXPENSIVE! Seriously, you get what you pay for. I am fine with discomfort at today’s prices — and at today’s extraordinary safety levels. I fly Southwest almost religiously — I love that I can take two bags at no incremental cost… I love that they make it easy to change your reservation… and if the flight is long, I pay the $15 extra to get earliest possible boarding so I can grab the seat I want.

            • Joe Felice says

              All I can say is you must lead a charmed life. The one you describe is so different from that which most people experience elsewhere. I detest flying, because it is such a hassle. The airport is so-far away, and you have to get there 2 hours before your flight, just for the privilege of being profiled and scrutinized, neither of which make me feel any safer. And it’s a constant push and shove. People are so mean and angry, and everybody is so self-engaged with their “devices.” And then you board. . . I hate being nickled-and dimed to death. I’d rather get one ticket that allows me to sit in a reserved seat and take my carry-on bag, without having to go through a smorgasbord of options. So, as you can tell, I rarely travel. I used to love to do so, back when it was both a pleasure and a convenience. Which raises the point: People of my age and generation DO remember when things were so-vastly different in the country, and this makes it so hard for us to adapt to the modern way of doing things, all of which we know could be done better. Like customer service–I often find myself lecturing people about what it is and how to provide it. Plus there is the ever-present disappointment in our society. When we were growing up, we were led to believe that things would only get better in our country, and technology was to lead the way, but just the opposite has occurred. The regression of our society towards incivility leaps us agape and often depressed.

    • Joe Felice says

      The “digression in our society” pervades all aspects of our lives, not just flight. We are less civil towards others, and certainly less considerate. Our political system has a lot to do with this, but everyone seems angry, judgmental and impatient. So it is that we return to the memories of a simpler, happier, more-pleasant time, and certainly, we can do this, if even for a few minutes, on sites such as this.

  10. virginia says

    Gerinimom — Thanks for the great piece relating your experiences.

    I did a lot of PanAm flying as a little girl and young teenager. Back and forth to Latin America numerous times. Some to Europe also. I do recall more comfortable seating and far better food. And people dressing nicely. The level of luxury in these photos is not something I recall but I was young. I do remember the little toilette kits one received for inboard use — those were very nice. Also being given the famous PanAm wings on the way out the door.

    Deregulation is right. Won’t mention any names but am tempted to …

    I also recall, vividly, passenger ship travel in the early 60s. That was heaven.

    I console myself now with the realization that the world has opened up in good, deserved, and necessary ways for many many people who were excluded from these kinds of experiences back in the day. Too bad we haven’t been able to walk and chew gum at the same time.

  11. Lilly says

    I was a kid and flew frequently during this era. People wonder why I don’t fly unless I have no other choice. This is why. Flying now is like a bus trip in purgatory. I remember what it was like before it became just awful to fly.

  12. tammyCA says

    First time I ever flew was in 1974 and it was still you dress nicely for the flight & sit up straight (smoking yes, glad that’s gone). Haven’t flown in several years but just the other day on the News they showed photos of passengers dirty bare feet hanging over seats, on the food trays, half dressed sleepers, etc..ugh.

  13. MBJ says

    This will be depressing to anyone who has flown recently! The news has been as packed with stories of angry travelers as the flying sardine cans are with smaller seats. And the only nuts you get are the ones in airline management, who seem determined to take away all the joys of the experience for the sake of profits.

  14. Scott says

    Aw heck, California always gets all the fun stuff!

    These pictures were so convincing I was totally faked out that we were looking at shots from a vintage brochure. Well done!

  15. Joe Felice says

    Ah, yes! Stewardesses (single and under 35) wearing pink and blue outfits, with mini-skirts and hats. Free carry-on bags with the airline’s logo. In flight movies. Food and beverage service. Leg room. Fresh doilies on the headrests. Pillows and blankets. All sorts of magazines to read. And the best part of all: Walking up to the gate at the last minute, showing your ticket and ID, and boarding, where your reserved seat awaited you. Many of us remember it well.

      • Joe Felice says

        Well, I figured they had a proper name, but I certainly have never heard that word. How have I managed to live 64 years without knowing this? LOL I certainly would not want to get anyone else’s macassar on my hair!

        • Mary Elizabeth says

          Joe, “Macassar oil” was a men’s hair cream used in the mid 19th century and up until the 1920s, when Brylcreem was invented. Men would slather their heads with this oil to keep their “dos” in place, then lean back on grandmas’ sofas and chairs and get it all over the upholstery. Sometimes, they would smooth their hair with their hand and rest it on the arm of the chair, thus transferring the oil to the arm as well. So the grandmas started crocheting antimacassars in self defense. “Doilies” are similar, but they are made to protect wood furniture from being scratched by knickknacks.

          Why did you not know this while Nina and I did? Don’t know, except some families like mine were “word crazy,” and every term my parents used came with either a story or an etymology, or both.

          • nina462 says

            Thanks for this history lesson Mary Elizabeth – you are correct. Nice to know I’m not the only one with useless knowledge (don’t ever play against me in trivia!).

          • Joe Felice says

            Well, of course I heard of Brylcreem, but in the ’50s & ’60s, it was either rose oil or butch wax that boys used. Brylcreem (and Old Spice) was for old fogies, which I am today, but still use neither!

  16. Andrea says

    No wonder the uber wealthy hire private jets, I would to to avoid the nonsense of flying. I never had the luxury experience; looks awesome.

  17. JKM says

    Looking through old pictures, I came across one of my MIL and her family boarding a flight from Dallas to NYC for a family vacation in the early 1950s. It was a professional photograph of her, her brother, and parents posed at the bottom of the stair preparing to board the flight. All were dressed like they were going to church with my MIL, a teenager, in white gloves, her father and younger brother in suits, and her mother in a chic suit and hat. It was rare and expensive back then and not something the average person could do, so flying was special…and civilized. I’d love to travel to California to experience what my parents would have experienced in the 1970s. It’s a beating now.

  18. says

    PanAm was the second airplane I was ever on – 1964, from New York to London. Of course, that meant it was also the second kids’ stewardess pin I ever acquired, too (sure wish I knew where those went!). This was all before the 747 came out. But during the early 747 years, we lived just up the hill from the San Francisco airport, and watched many 747s taking off and landing, including one that landed in the bay and sat there for a couple of weeks!
    Really cool photos and post!

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