With today’s travel websites, apps and electronic overload sometimes it’s nice to just thumb through an old paper timetable for a little nostalgia. Take a trip back to October 1989 with me, almost 25 years ago, as we plan a trip on Pan Am.
Now remember, by 1989 Pan Am was a shell of what it once was. It has sold its Pacific routes to United in 1985 and failed to merge with Northwest that very summer. So some routes are missing from this time table, but there is still a lot of aspirational travel in there.
And that’s what I love about these timetables: the destinations listed from smaller markets made global travel seem so easy. Take Rochester, NY for instance. In 1989 most Rochester flights, as today, only went to airline hub cities. For example, Chicago, JFK, and St. Louis for American, Pan Am, and TWA respectively. But opening the pages of this timetable show much more exotic destinations, as if those flights were departing right from your door step:
Amsterdam, Ankara, Antigua, Athens… and those are just the first four. Bombay, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Moscow and more.
This particular time table is fairly thin on flight information. It doesn’t list aircraft type or many different connections as other timetables sometimes did. Looking at the Athens flight for example it reads:
Which reads: Flight operates Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays only. Departs Rochester at 5:45pm and arrives Athens at 3:55pm the next day. Three flights, the first on Pan Am Express flight 4866. Now here’s where the timetable geeky goodness comes in. We look for each flight individually. For Rochester this is pretty easy, they only had service to the JFK hub. Under “New York/Newark” we see our first flight listed:
To NEW YORK, NY/NEWARK, NJ
The K indicated Kennedy. With that info, let’s flip to the New York departures and find flight 66. With something like 30 non stops out of New York, we scan the page looking for our flight number. We can be slightly more scientific by assuming this is a connection in London or Frankfurt, one of their two main European hubs.
|Daily||K 9:00pm||10:25am +||66||Nonstop|
And finally our connecting flight:
|No local traffic on above flight|
Now we see why the flight was only listed on certain days of the week: the Athens flight is only four days per week. Additionally, this flight was only for connecting passengers not for intra-Europe traffic.
My favorite timetables are the ones that also listed the equipment type and meals all neatly placed on one line. These timetables would inspire me to think about travel and started me on my mile obsession.
Now if only the flight tracking websites would take a page from timetable history and tighten up their user interface. I’ve never understood why most trip tracking websites take up my entire screen for one itinerary. Ah… paper time tables, how I miss you.