The Flying Camel with an Aramco stewardess - 1952

It’s amazing how far the attitude towards smoking has changed in 50 years. In the 1950s I remember going with my mother to the doctor and after my exam, the two of them would be smoking like fiends as they discussed my current affliction awhile.

On those spectacular New York to Dhahran flights on the Flying Camel or Flying Oryx, once the plane was in the air, a great cocktail party would begin, especially on the departing flights. The cabin would be filled with people in the aisles, sitting on the arm-rests chattering away with each other, drinking and smoking like it was a wild Christmas party in Dhahran. Smoking on the plane was always a little close but so acceptable that it was barely noticed. Except for my highly allergenic friend Dave who just resigned himself to being covered with hives by the time he got to Shannon airport in Ireland.

Lockheed Constellation

With the advent of the 707 the Aramco airline shut down and we all flew commercial. So it was about 1963 and Smith and I were flying on BOAC out of Athens back to high school in the States when we witnessed an all-time first in air travel.

Once the plane was airborne the stewardess came on and announced that BOAC had just started a no smoking policy. If you objected to smoking you should switch seats now. Then she said, “For the duration of the flight smoking will only be allowed on the left side of the plane.” Smith and I laughed so hard that people started looking at us. “On the left side of the… (fill in your lame joke) became our tagline for the flight.

I guess even a child has to crawl before it walks. We were there for baby’s first steps.

ARABIAN SON: 21 Stories by Tim Barger
ARABIAN SON: 21 Stories by Tim Barger
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