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Musings on Air Travel

From the history of moving sidewalks to the "silent airport" trend, let's take a moment to reflect on the evolution of airports and air travel ... just for fun.

First, let's (re)watch the opening scene of The Graduate, that classic film from 1967.

What strikes you about this scene?

Apart from the '60s-era airplane and vintage suitcase, did you notice that, as Dustin Hoffman stands on the moving sidewalk, an announcement keeps repeating: “Please hold handrails and stand to the right. If you wish to pass, please do so on the left.”

Once upon a time, passengers needed instructions to use moving sidewalks! Doesn’t that seem strange now? (Believe it or not, these ubiquitous conveniences have an interesting history of their own. Read: A Short History on Moving Sidewalks.)

But think about it. Back in 1967, LAX was one of the most modern airports in the world ... an iconic symbol of the new Jet Age with all the associated romance and glamour.

Unfortunately, if you’ve flown through LAX in the past decade, you know it hasn't fared well. Hopefully, the massive modernization project that’s currently underway will bring back some of its former glory.

Today, the world’s 10 best airports are mostly in Asia and include three of our personal favorites:

  • Hamad International Airport (Doha, Qatar)

  • Incheon International Airport (South Korea)

  • Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

We love these locations for their efficiency, amenities and overall comfort. We haven't (yet) had the pleasure of visiting Singapore Changi Airport ... named the world’s best airport eight years in a row! But it's definitely on our list.

Indoor tropical forest. Singapore Changi International Airport.

Now, let's revisit those repetitive airport announcements in The Graduate, and consider this: Changi is one of several international airports to enact a silent airport policy. Read: The War on Annoying Airport Announcements.

Airports in the U.S. have been slow to adopt the trend, but in September 2020, San Francisco International Airport announced progress on its Quiet Airport program.

We can't help but remember the opening scene from Airplane (released in 1980) as well. 😂

Movies make such great time capsules, preserving past eras of air travel for our memories. Remember the opening and closing airport scenes in Love Actually?

Even better ... this photo essay from Insider shows how air travel has evolved over the past 100 years! One can't help but wonder what the next 100 years will bring ...


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