I was watching The Parallax View last night, made in 1974. There’s a scene where Warren Beatty is following a suitcase bomb which is loaded onto a plane at LAX, so he runs onto the tarmac, up the stairs and into the plane. The plane then takes off, and Warren walks around looking for who the intended target might be, eventually finding an empty seat and settling in.
At that point, a stewardess (or flight attendant if you will) walks up to him with a clipboard, and asks for his name. He gives her a fake name, which she writes down. Then she says “That will be $68.50.” And Warren Beatty pays her.
Needless to say, I was pretty shocked by this. (I was 4 in 1974). Was this really SOP back then? You could run onto any plane with no boarding pass / ticket / asigned seat, then after the plane was already airborn provide a fake name and not get asked for any ID whatsoever? And then pay for the ticket after the flight was already underway?
As late as 1985, I used to fly standby on Peoples and pay on board with cash.
This was a great little airline that I used from Chicago to Newark. They were cheap and acted more like a flying bus. Typical crowd was all in late teens & 20’s.
Military & College kids mainly. A true no frills airline.
While the shuttles (let’s remember them all: Eastern, Pan Am, Continental, Delta…) and the no-frills would let you get on and then pay, the traditional ailine flights wanted a ticket and a boarding pass. However, they were perfectly happy to let you buy your ticket for cash at the counter (sometimes even at the gate) and weren’t too strict about asking for ID.
I seem to recall that Icelandic Airways would let you fly across the Atlantic without a reservation, pay cash, etc. I wonder how many backpackers decided to take a last minute flight without a passport?
From what I remember, the airlines originally imposed ID requirements in the early 80’s, not for security reasons, but to make sure the ticket was issued in the name of the person flying to make it more difficult for people to resell tickets to others.
The plane was already airborn before he was approached by the stewardess and asked for the first time for a name and money for the ticket. It was a flight from LAX to Denver, so it wasn’t a quick shuttle either.
It’s been a while since I read it, but I think in Hailey’s “Airport”, a little old lady is bording planes and flying them with only an empty boarding pass envelope in her front pocket.
If I’m remembering this right, I bet it stems from a real incident, since I think it more likely that a novelist would incorporate a news item than make up something like this without knowledge whether the scam would work.
As late as 1998 I boarded a commercial flight in Rotorua, New Zealand and not only did they not check ID, but there was no visible security. I needed a boarding pass, but was able to stroll onto the tarmac and climb onto the plane without passing through metal detectors, or having my carry on X-rayed. It was one of those regional jets with 40 or so passengers.
That’s right; you can’t even joke about hijacks or bombs.
My first time on an airplane was in 1985. Iwalked up with my boarding pass, and walked on. I never presented ID. My recently ex-girlfriend walked me to the entrance of the plane, and stood there a while after I was seated.
IIRC, I ran onto a plane (probably American Airlines) leaving San Diego for the East Coast with no ticket or reservation in about 1969 and wrote the stewardess a check. It seems to me she didn’t even ask for ID.
When did people start making reservations for plane rides outside of peak hours and holidays? Didn’t people just go to the airport expecting to get on a plane back in the 1960s and 1970s when load factors were around 55%?
Destinations were also not checked by anyone. If you wanted to go to Japan, and knew that the flight was going to there via Hawaii, you simply had to buy a ticket only to Honolulu and not get off. Even if there was a short stopover and you had to get off the plane and sit in a special waiting area, noboby checked you ticket when you boarded the plane for Tokyo.
I was a kid in the early-'70s, but I remember my mom sent me on a plane to my dad’s once. IIRC it was either PSA or Hughes Air West from San Diego to LAX, then a turboprop to WJF (Lancaster). I remember walking on the ramp to the rear stairs of a 727.
Of course, I didn’t know how the ticket was paid for or whether I had an assigned seat.
I remember an episode of “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” where Gomer was helping his sargeant board an airline flight. Gomer got bonked on the head (no amnesia) unconscious and fell into a hidden room (toilet?). So he accidentally flew off with the flight. Upon arriving at the Sarge’s destination, they found Gomer. The airline didn’t charge him for the flight, since it was an accident that he didn’t disembark. But then they wouldn’t allow him to fly back for free.
I know this is just a TV sitcom plot, but there must’ve been some truth to the premise.