Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

Please Bring Back

pan am bag
(Via Etsy-Vintage)

I’ve got a rental car for a few days whilst mine is being repaired. Minor accident; major headache. The problem with not having my car is that I’ve got a bunch of extra things to tote around, like an EZ Pass, cell, sunglasses, garage door opener, keys… . At the moment, I’m doing so in my Land’s End zippered regimental stripe tote bag. All well and good, except that it won’t carry my laptop, too. And my briefcases are handleless, except for one extremely heavy red leather number.

Stopped at a light, I saw a young man with extraordinary (not in a good way) shoes but a very nice sweater crossing the street. He was carrying over his shoulder a sky blue bag. The back of the bag was to me, so I could identify no logo. But it triggered a memory. KLM, Pan Am, Braniff, Lufthansa; flights of my youth. Flights of fancy.

Pan Am used to give out those bags as promotional items. They were vinyl and told the world that you were part of the jet-set. Although I’m sure the real jet set travelled with Valtextra. They were a step up from the olive drab, flat-bottomed, Army gym bags. The gym bags had one essential ingredient missing from flight bags like the one above (at least from my perspective): handles.

I dislike slinging bags over the shoulder of a suit coat as they tend to drag the shoulder out and down and dislodge the collar and generally make one look dishevelled and harried. You know, like a modern day traveller.

What’s needed is an inexpensive, lightweight, handles and shoulder strap, flight bag with a couple of zippered compartments that’s large enough to carry a laptop, a book and a few odds and ends.

Of course they won’t be bringing the promotional bags back. (Or if they do, they’ll try and sell them to us. Funny, you have to rent a billboard or buy space to run an ad.) Not in the age of no more food, nuts or legroom on board.

And don’t get me started on the loss of the bar and spiral staircases on the 747. (I can’t afford Virgin’s Upper Class. And don’t you love that it’s a great place to chat with the crew? I assume that’s exclusive of the pilot and co-pilot.)

8 thoughts on “Please Bring Back

  1. There is a nice article from the Wall Street Journal from 10/26/09 re: PanAm and their once luxurious first class cabin. “InOne Man’s Garage, Pan Am Still Soars.” Interestingly, based on recent research a lot of air carriers are starting invest alot into there first and business class sections in an effect to back more customers.

  2. Taylor, I’m afraid so. But we take far too few vacations as it is. Getting there really should be half the fun. I also like the idea of those prepaid, prescreened ID’s to whisk you through security.

    SPrincess, as do I. Made all the more tough after having seen some of it. I dreamt of hitting the QEII, Orient-Express, Concorde trifecta.

  3. Brent. I bet my mom still has one squirrelled away. Lamented, indeed. Flying Pan Am made me want to be a grownup. I remember sneaking up those spiral stairs to the lounge to see my Dad ordering a scotch before the stewardess shooed my back downstairs. In my mind they’re playing “Fly Me to the Moon” by FAS.

  4. The real jet set travelled not with Valextra, but as my parents did, with crocodile luggage sporting canvas snap-on covers

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