In a bit of a departure from my normal LH-themed posts, I came across an article recently that I thought was entertaining enough to share.

In this month’s issue of Airways magazine (July 2013), they had a great feature article on the relationship between de Havilland and United, specifically about the impact that the Caravelle had on United in the 1960s.   It’s a great read and gives insight as to how the Caravelle helped revolutionize jet travel and became the first non-US made jetliner to serve for an US based airline.

As part of the article, there was inset piece that brought back to life United’s exclusive Executive Class that had a short-lived lifespan between 1953 and 1970.   For those of  you unfamiliar with Executive Class what you are about to read will make you either hate it or pine for it….depending on your gender.

In 1953 United launched a unique route/flight  between Chicago and New York that catered specifically to males.   The only passengers that were allowed on these flights were men who had the role of  Vice-President or higher with their employer.   As part of their  on-board experience, these gentlemen would be served complete steak dinners (cooked to personal preference) as well as the ability to enjoy their finest pipe or cigar and aperitif. Additionally, passengers would receive a special gift that would range from golf balls, commemorative plates and other unique items.    Can you understand why I referenced AMC’s ‘Mad Men’ ?

I’m tempted to brush off my Fedora, bring my business cards and ask when Executive Class boards when I fly UA later this week…..

The article went on to describe what would happen if a female or child was inadvertently booked on an Executive Class flight…..they would be denied boarding and be forced to board a traditional gender neutral flight.   Can you imagine the scene that would take place today at a boarding gate should that be attempted??

With the success of the route, United expanded  Executive Class to the Los Angeles-San Francisco corridor as well.  Initially all of the Executive Class Flights were operated by DC-6 aircraft until the de Havilland Caravelle replaced them in the early 1960s.    The fare for these flights was priced higher than standard First Class Tickets.

Out of curiosity, is there anyone reading this that experienced this “boys club” at 30,000 feet?


Note:  the image in the header is courtesy of United Airlines.