In the early 1950, 60s and 70s, air travel was a real luxury; it was only the very rich that took a plane. Today, it has become another mode of transport and the airports resemble a bus-station.
In that golden era of air travel, flying was a luxury and airline companies spent big time on making the traveler feel special. Air India was somewhere in the top five when it came to luxurious travel.
Air India’s founder, the legendary aviator and industrialist J.R.D. Tata was approached to design Singapore Airlines’ inflight services which international travelers speak of highly today. The best of Asian hospitality that Thai Airways and Cathay Pacific are known for today was first embodied by Air India right from the 1950s, according to the bestselling book “Empires of the Sky – The Politics, Contests and Cartels of World Airlines.”
Architected by gifted artists from Shantiniketan in West Bengal and Baroda in Gujarat, Air India’s Maharaja Lounges were steeped in sheer magnificence – from the use of silverware in serving food on board and the flamboyant uniform of air hostesses. JRD Tata’s keen aesthetic sensibility ensured that everything from the napkins to the upholstery to the uniform to the tapestry added to the luxury and magnificence of Air India. Gifts of the most exquisite type were given and the food was fit for a king.
For those who have flown the Air India at that time, to see where it has come today, is a real tragedy. It’s a reflection of our degrading culture all around, Air India is just symbolic of the times we live in.