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Ten Things We Don't See At Airports Anymore

Air travel used to be a lot more expensive and exclusive before the industry was deregulated, and many airports therefore had a lot more amenities that were included in the cost of your pricey ticket. Of course, the events of 9/11 changed the design and operation of U.S. airports, as did technology and health concerns. See how many of these features, if any, you remember. ( Más...

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Barbara Clark 16
I Too, miss the observation decks. Going there was our fun day when a friend would load up the neighborhood kids in his truck and go watch the planes. We lived close enough to the airport to be able to do that. Why can't we have indoor observation now? I love to watch the planes. For some reason, it gives me a thrill each time I see one go over my house!
Ken Lane 5
These days, you dang near risk getting arrested if you stop alongside a road and dare to take a picture through the fence.

Some people have been arrested for doing so.
Edward Dexter 9
BWI Baltimore has an observation deck by the Sky Azure bar on the second floor of the terminal; and a bunch rocking chairs by a large observation window along Concourse B, for ticketed passengers, tho the folks I see in them are all staring at their I-devices. I wanna dump one out so I can sit and watch the aircraft. But I also like Friendship Park just south of the field, which was set up for planewatchers, and the bike trail that goes around BWI, right outside the fence at the end of two of the runways. Fun!
Doug Zalud 1
Glad to hear that friendship Park is still there. Used to get some good photos there.
sounds as if Friendship Park is living up to its name. :)
panam1971 7
Definitely miss the open-air observation decks.Nothing like jet wash and sound from a 727! Those coin-op binoculars were cool, too.
preacher1 1
ABQ was nice back in the day and with that tunnel and satellite terminal out in the middle of the ramp really made things nice. I haven't been out there in years so have no idea of what it is like. That is where I watched PanAm's 747's come up out of their flight training school at Roswell in the late 60's
Jerrold Granok 1
ABQ is completely changed from when you saw it last. I remember that tunnel out to the satellite terminal to board the TWA flights from the late 60s and 70s. For a while, the original 1939 pueblo-style terminal with its walk on the tarmac to the planes was used for international flights. The main terminal was completely rebuilt in 1989 all while keeping it open for full service, a little like doing an engine overhaul at 60 mph. The tunnel and satellite terminal are completely gone, replaced by the A and B concourses, and the original 1939 terminal now houses the TSA offices. They have retained the New Mexico flavor but the old general waiting area with its strong Indian-influenced design is gone. Check out the Wikipedia article on the Albuquerque International Sunport for more information.
preacher1 1
steve rogers 12
I consider my self lucky to have flown back in the 70s 80s and 90s pre 911 was great , air travel went to crap after that ! very sad now days what people have to endure , when I was young air travel was an experience not to miss , cockpit visits was the norm , pilots always happy to show you around , proud of what they did , now they are locked in there like jail birds ( excuse the punt ) for those of us that can remember those days , they are great memories , for those that don't , you missed a great era
josh homer 4
Agreed. I was lucky to be apart of the industry for ten years until I lost my job after 9/11. I LOVE flying. I used to go to DFW and pick a gate, and just go. My first time flying after 9/11 was in 2006, and I swore off commercial travel after that. It's a giant hassle, and does NOTHING for actual security. About to start my sport license just so I can keep my love for flying going.
leonardo muniz 1
what a days back in 70s and 80 in tjsj (sju) tha old observation deck. Beautiful memories!!!!!
preacher1 1
Didn't you used to drive for me at TLI out of Russellville?
Doug Zalud 5
The observation decks were the best. I had friends come down from Canada just to spend the day with me photographing everything that passed us by. It was located at the base of the tower, so all of the aircraft had to go past us. And the sunlight was perfect all day long. I think it is still closed now even to those in that terminal waiting to leave.

They even closed the outside observation area off the airport grounds after 9/11. In fact, almost every time we show up anywhere to try and watch or photograph planes, the police come out.

The fun and wonder of the old days is certainly gone.
Russ Nelson 4
The police are welcome to come out and watch with you. If you're taking photographs of airplanes from public property, they cannot stop you. Photography is not a crime.
HowSwedeitis 3
You may have a crazy woman from Connecticut come after you, though... ;)
Jim Beckner 2
CLT is one of the few airports that still has an overlook. A large parking lot sits 100 yards from the approach end of 18C. I spend a lot of time out there. You see a lot of people waiting to pick up their passengers, taxis, and families from the area.
joe milazzo 8
And the #1 answer........Friendly, competent airline employees!!!!!
Paul Thomas 5
That, and not being treated like a piece of cargo.
Michael Fuquay 4
Airports and flying used to be such an exciting event. People even dressed better.

Now it's about "herding cattle"
MrTommy 2
You're right about people dressing better 'back then'. Now folks show up like they just left Wal Mart. Flip flops, baggy shorts, tank tops. It's disgusting! I remember taking 'Grandma' to the airport and WE also got dressed up. I'm talking the 50's here. We even had to get dressed up to go to the train station! Many of today's folks show NO respect for anyone - or even THEMSELVES. While I used to complain about getting 'dressed up' as a kid, I now MISS it.
Melissa P 2
As an airline employee, I think that this is far from true. If we weren't berated at every turn for things that are out of our control ( example: your bag weighing 89 pounds when the weight limit is 50, or the fact that DFW has red ramp conditions and no planes are flying in or out) than you wouldnt catch us at that one human moment we have. Friendly, YES. Competent, YES, Human....YES.
Chris Bryant 4
I definitely remember it all. Spent some time in the TV chairs at ATL and JFK (back when you had more than 30 minutes to change planes). I've done the stairs too, not all that long ago deplaining a DL 757 at SJC (out the REAR door even!).
Tim Swift 4
Great article. Amazing to think now that people actually smoked on planes but I can remember those days. Everybody use to get meals on flights and you were treated with respect and people were generally courteous to each other. Living here in Des Moines one of the worst things IMO was when they took out the observation parking area (The Blue Lights) where you could drive up to a parking area and watch the planes and jets taxi and land. The kids loved it and the pilots often waved to the kids at the fence from their cockpits.
James Carlson 2
I definitely do not miss the smoke. They used to have a "smoking section" towards the rear, but in practice, the entire cabin filled with a choking blue haze before take-off. It was almost unbearable, even for short flights.
CloudSurfer89 4
They still have courtesy cars over at the General Aviation FBO!
Aaron Donnelly 4
At BUR you still get to walk on the tarmac to board the airplane! It's my favorite airport to fly in and out of.
HowSwedeitis 2
You beat me to it! BUR was the first place I thought of when I read that; it truly is like another time at that airport!
robert albee 4
I miss the traditional hare krisna folks at the terminal doors.
joe milazzo 1
Jeff Coghill 3
RDU has an observation deck and play area. It's great fun for adults and kids!
John Taylor 5
What a shame! Airports in those days smacked of adventure and excitement.....not so now! It's: "Shoes off, arms and legs spread etc."....while some min wage stranger in a funky look-a-like cop outfit and hi-tech camera ogles your wife! And all this in the "land of the free"!! Pathetic! We're better and braver than that!
Karl Schneider 2
Up until the late 80s many airports had free short term parking at the airline terminal for private planes picking up passengers from the airlines. I used to fly up to Tulsa from Muskogee several times a week to pick up customers who flew in from all over the world in my Cessna 310...I could park right next to the concourse, meet the folks just inside the south door at baggage claim and walk a couple hundred feet to our plane. I imagine if I tried that nowadays they would send drones to strafe or some SWAT Gestapo to throw me down on the tarmac and make up some 'terrorist' charges. Bah.
Ken Lane 3
The DPE who did my CFI back in 2007 told me of a former student who came through Chattanooga and ran over to his hangar just five hundred feet from the terminal area. Because the airline pilot left his plane and went past the "secure area" line the TSA and city cops came chasing after him.

It's gotten pretty stupid.
Karl Schneider 1
Indeed. I often parked the 310 at Chapman Aviation, just a football field away from the TUL terminal when I would take an airline out of the country and when I got back I could just exit the Jetway door and walk straight to my plane completely bypassing the concourse. I didn't check any baggage unless it was a long trip but then I'd drive up to the airport instead of taking the Cessna.
preacher1 0
You still living in Muskogee?
Karl Schneider 1
No but pretty close to it. I think I might know you...
Ken Lane 2
They still circulate that picture at the post offices?
preacher1 1
wise guy.LOL
preacher1 0
Well, if you have been around FSM over there since about 73, we have probably crossed paths. I retired in 09 from AltaVista Corp, had me a truckline for about 4 years, came back in Dec 12, and worked until, well actually worked about a year, but drew rocking chair money reserve until April 1. They bought a CRJ to go with a 767 and King Air they had. I flew it for awhile last year and then we hired several guys. Got them all typed and orientated and other than fill in now, I am sitting on my butt. They are keeping me current as needed but other than that, I am kinda likin' this back porch and sweet tea, as well as the creek bank every now and then. LOL. I live about 75 miles East of FSM.
Scott Somer 2
My understanding is that Bob Hope (KBUR) still does not have jetways.
HowSwedeitis 2
Nope! I always feel like I'm in the 60's when I deplane! =)
Randy Marco 1
That is correct!
seahawker01 2
As independant FBO are getting taken over by large chains, I suspect they to will eventualy make you rent a car.
HowSwedeitis 1
The FBO I flew out of had Enterprise pamphlets advertising that they'd "pick you up." ...then you'd have to rent the car they picked you up in! ;)
selby50c 2
Observation Decks:- the UK afaik do at least have a more enlightened approach and do provide observation areas beside or at the end of runways. (MAN) Also, some authorities have come to realize that "plane-spotters" can provide a useful role, since they generally have a camera with them.
Smoking:- EWR has or did have a smoking cage airside....DUS - same applies...
Luggage carts: It would not be so bad having to toss a coin deposit for the use, but the cart return is NEVER available when or where you want it.
sstuff 3
Terminal “D” in LAS has a smoking “cage,” replete with . . . slot machines. I forget which gates are near.
Randy Marco 2
There were the piano lounges in the back of TWA 747's that were GREAT fun, flying from PHX to ORD coming home for Christmas from ASU in `72 `73. Most the whole plane was comprised of ASU students it literally was a party!
Sal Milano 2
You dont see Pan Am anymore
William Bannan 1
Anybody else notice the PHL tag says Newark New Jersey underneath
Jerrold Granok 1
Just guessing, could it have been a flight to PHL via a connection at EWR?
Yaca Attwood 1
CRK (Cork, Ireland) doesn't really have Jetways - a lot of the time, you get off of the Aer Lingus Airbus 320's from both the front and back, and are greeted by the soft Irish rain....
Shawn Connelly 1
I remember the old TPA when we saw my father off to Sweden and I got to ride the jet wash as the Eastern 727 took off for ATL.
Wayne Smith 1
I loved the Queens Building observation deck at LHR as a kid. Used to be a 4 change bus ride from Croydon during the summer holidays. There was a souvenir shop selling all kinds of goodies, I distinctly remember a map of the airport with all the airline tails on the back. Happy summer days that certainly fueled a love of flying...
Got to take the shuttle bus across the tarmac and climb the stairs to my plane just last year.
Oh yeah ... was at LGA (was taking a ERJ-145 to YUL). :)
Dean Kennedy 1
I've got one more:

Pay toilets, at least at what is now Terminal 2 at PHX Sky Harbor
While not the *only* option, when I was in Europe about 9 years ago, I boarded via air stairs twice. Once in Prague to come aboard an ATR, second time was boarding the 767 in Brussels to take me back home to Atlanta. I took a bus out to the airplane, then walked up the stairs to the plane, in a light rain no less.

Tunica, MS, has an odd combination of an air stair and jetway. You queue up under a covered awning that has a ramp up to the airplane, but the last 20 feet or so (the moveable part) is open air. I guess it was done to accomodate different aircraft, but it is interesting for sure.

Many GA airports still have observation areas, but many large airports in the US have gone out of their way to make plane spotting almost impossible. Memphis closed a park that used to be on the south side of the airport that I imagine would have been a good aircraft watching area.
preacher1 1
MEM used to have several good places, both from the terminal and the 91st bomb group restaurant right off the end of one of the runways. Not anymore, at least in the terminal. Don't know if the restaurant is still there or not.
ken young 1
CLT has an observation lot which is not on the airport property but offers a fantastic view of CLT's Center runway.
Mark Robinson 1
Best airport for viewing I've ever been to is Zurich. They have a wonderful observation deck that covers almost the whole roof of one of the terminals, everyone can enter, thru it's own security. Cost a bit but well worth it. Has little rides for small kids and can get something to eat. Benches around the whole area. Also there is park/parking area at the north end of the runway to get awesome pictures, often have food vendors their too. Being Switzerland, their is a bus stop close by, then a quick ride to the airport where u can catch a train straight in Zurich Main Station. Best set up I've ever seen. Also have large shopping area below the airport, restaurants, groceries, goods, etc. Also being Swiss, it is so clean, efficient and safe it can make an American used to dirty, inefficient, dangerous, crappie airports; go into shock.
I also miss viewing decks. Manchester Airport (MAN) has an excellent viewing park ideal for photography. It even has a Concorde plus eating facilities plus a shop.
On a visit to Florida last year I found the viewing at Fort Lauderdale (FLL) very good on the roof of car park which overlooks ramps.
steve rogers 1
as a kid I use to go to dorval airport , they had a huge outdoor balcony overlooking the entire airfield , I guess montreal always had the spirit !!
There was alway something about walking out to the airplane and up the steps. I remember climbing the steps on a Convair 580 and marvelling at how large the propeller blades were. Convairs had their own folding steps that I think folded up into the vestiblue.
Also boarding a 727 through the rear boarding stairs, the same place D.B. Cooper jumped out.
preacher1 1
You are definitely correct on the Convair 580. The old Frontier ran a bunch of them; Flew on them a lot out of FSM before the flying bug got me. Done the 727 rear end too. Both are cool.
wade roberts 1
In the long-lost and innocent days days of observation decks, there were often speakers that would play the ATC communications, in addition to the coin-operated binoculars. On nights and weekends, you would find families watching the traffic. I got the itch to fly from those experiences. I'm not going to divulge the airport (don't want the site shut down), but there's a Class B airport near me with a small paved parking lot (with trash cans), just outside the perimeter fence with a great view and clearly marked "Aircraft Observation Area." It's full weekdays at midday, with folks eating lunch in their cars, evenings, and weekends with families. Refreshing and hopeful. You can find some viewing areas here:
Montréal's Pierre-Elliot-Trudeau airport has a nice park for plane spotters:’s-first-plane-spotting-park/
euronorb 1
Manchester UK (Ringway) was fantastic back In the 70's, you could walk out on the piers and look down on the aircraft just leaning over about a 4 foot railing. They now have the Aviation viewing park and some great areas for photography on the Southside.
jbird17 1
I will sign the petition for an observation deck. I would give anything to go watch the big boys fly-by or over. I look up at them every day as they fly over. I remember I was at an airport dropping off a relative. I saw a road close to the departure of their plane so decided to pull off and wave so long and just watch for a little while. As I watch plane after plane land and go I look behind me to see the black and white pull up lights a blazing. He walks up with his hand on his gun as I roll down the window he questions my presence there. I say just watching the planes. He ask for my license as he blocked me in. He comes back and gives a long excuse of why I can't park here because it looks suspicious even though I was a 500ft from the nearest jet and not in anyone's way. The 8ft barbed wire fence stood between me as well. Anyways I sure wish there was a place for us sky gazers to have a fun place to view the wonders of the Wright's past and present.
Jeff Gross -3
11) Attractive cabin crews! :)


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