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Pan Am
Pan Am's Flight to Nowhere Recreates the Golden Age of Travel
Beverly Cohn

The Pan American Airlines of yesteryear. Photo: Beverly Cohn

Anthony Toth
“Pilot” Anthony Toth spent years scouring the world for authentic original Pan Am interior parts, flatware, and vintage uniforms recreating this authentic Pan Am Boeing 747. Photo: Beverly Cohn

ave you ever longed for the good old days when luxury travel was, well, luxury travel? Back in the day, there were no security lines or body scanners and whoever accompanied you to the airport, could actually sit with you at the gate until you were ready to embark. When you walked onto a Pam Am plane, let's say, you were greeted with lovely, smiling hostesses who were not being distracted by cell phones and most cordially escorted you to your seat.

Well folks, if you would like to relive that glorious time, I have just the spot for you. Air Hollywood, a well-known motion picture studio specializing in films requiring interior or exterior shots of airplanes, has launched The Pan Am Experience. A joint venture of the studio's CEO and Founder Talaat Captan and Anthony Toth, they have created the interior of a Pan Am Boeing 747, including First and Clipper Class cabins, as well as the nostalgic spiral staircase connecting First Class to the Upper Deck dining room. Toth has spent years scouring the world for authentic original Pan Am seats, tables, silverware, dishes, stemware, and serving carts as well as different sections of the plane and vintage uniforms. The recreation is absolutely perfect for as you enter the plane, you are immediately catapulted back to that luxurious time.

hostess doing life jacket demo
The life jacket demonstration by one of the hostesses was anything but traditional as there was a definite comic slant to her delivery resulting in lots of laughter from the passengers. Photo: Beverly Cohn

Before boarding the plane for our "flight to nowhere," I checked in at the reception desk where tickets cost anywhere between $200-$300. I was issued a Pan Am Experience Boarding Pass for flight 811 to Hawaii, Seat 7J in Clipper Class. The reason for the Hawaii "destination," is that the airline, which was in business from 1927-December 4, 1991, would have celebrated 50 years of flights to the island. Commemorating that event, lovely women, accompanied by a small band playing Hawaiian music, entertained us with traditional Hula dancing. It is said that Pam Am set the bar for glamour and sophistication as well as giving the masses the opportunity to travel. The "waiting room" is filled with historic memorabilia showcasing the people, places, and aviation paraphernalia germane to particular eras.

Pre-boarding drinks were served in the boarding area and soon an announcement was made that Flight 811 to Hawaii was now boarding First Class passengers. Everyone was elegantly attired, including some men in black tie and thankfully, for a change, not a flip-flop or cut off jeans were anywhere to be seen.

hostess serving a meal and participating in a fashion show
Left: The meal service was extra delicious due to the playful demeanor of the hostesses. Right: Adding to our dining experience was a fashion show during which the hostesses modeled uniforms from different decades. Photos: Beverly Cohn

Hula dancer in traditional native costume
Wearing the traditional native costume, a graceful Hula dancer glided up and down the aisles. Photo: Beverly Cohn

Escorted to my seat by a beautiful young hostess wearing a uniform from the 1970s, I was delighted to see that a table sat between four seats – two on each side – offering a convenience of yesteryear. Kicking off the food service, a menu of libations was distributed which listed 18 choices – from sparkling water and Coca Cola to premium wines, champagne, and specialty drinks such as Mile High Mai Tai and Pam Am Punch made with fresh pineapple juice, sour mix, blue curacao liqueur, white rum, and vodka. Its description ends with "Puts a Puka Puka in your step! Indeed, a few of those, you'll really be flying high.

Although the dinner recreated authentic food, the taste was far from what we use to call airplane food, which now actually consists of a bag of nuts and a beverage. A crisp tossed salad with prawns was the starter, followed by a delicious, tender Beef Wellington offered as one of the entrees. During the meal service, with songs from the Great American Songbook piped in, we were entertained with several fashion shows in which the hostesses turned into models and strutted through the different cabins wearing the uniforms that were standard from decade to decade. After a while, I have to admit that looking through the window with a fluffy cloud-filled sky painted on the outside, I began to feel like I was actually on a plane sans the constant roar of the engines, which, by the way, is available on request. Gone for this brief walk back in time are all the inconveniences associated with today's travel.

view through the windows
This gives new meaning to Neil Diamond's ““Be lost on a painted sky where the clouds are hung for the poets eye.” Photo: Beverly Cohn

the writer at the cockpit
Bev checked out the cockpit to make sure all systems were go for take off.
Photo: Cary Harrison

Pan Am's jingle was "Pan Am Makes The Going Great." This experience will make the going lots of fun and would be a perfect way to celebrate a special occasion such as birthdays, anniversaries, bachelor or bachelorette parties or just for the plain or plane fun of it.

Surrounded by literally thousands of boarding passes, CEO & Founder of Air Hollywood explained some of the other programs offered at Air Hollywood such as Fear of Flying and Open Sky For Autism. Photo: Beverly Cohn

It was time to say goodbye to this wonderful crew who made The Pan Am Experience a hoot and a half. Photo: Beverly Cohn

For Scheduling Information:
Air Hollywood
13240 Weidner Street
Pacoima, CA 91331
Phone: 818-890-0444

Other Air Hollywood Programs:
Fear of Flying
Open Sky For Autism
K-9 Training Program for Air Travel

Related Articles:
Flight of Culinary Fancy; Flying in Mint Class Style with JetBlue; Flying Aboard An Aviation Legend; SWISS Air Celebrates New Jets

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Let Bev know what you think about her traveling adventure.

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Thanks so much for those lovely tourism photos, especially of Ireland. I certainly enjoyed all the places you suggested, and am working towards my next vacation. Don’t forget Cuba. That’s an exciting place.

Rosalie, Los Angeles

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Enjoyed your article on Mira Sorvino. Such an interesting background – family, education, career and now human rights activist. I'm not a gossip mag fan so getting more meaty news about movie celebrities from you gives me hope that there are some inteligent life forms in Hollywood.

Peter Paul, Pasadena, CA

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Thank you, Bev. This reminded me to go see the movie, "An Education," which I had already almost forgotten about, having seen the preview a few weeks ago. I enjoy this actress quite a bit--she has a uniqueness about her and she pulls me in. I enjoyed this.

Sandeee, Seattle, WA

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Thank you Beverly,I really enjoyed reading about your intimate conversation with Forest, of whom I am a great admirer. I look forward to seeing the film "Our Family Wedding."

Yoka, Westlake Village, CA

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Thank you for the sending me the beautiful article you wrote about Ireland. We will use your recomendations for hotels in the Southern part. We plan to also go to Dublin and some other Northern cities so I will get some recommendations for these from others. After reading your article, I am getting more excited about going. I think we will be in Ireland for 8 days altogether.

Leah Mendelsohn, Santa Monica, CA

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Very much enjoyed Ms. Cohn's article about Munich, especially the visuals. Though it has been 25 years since my last visit, the piece brought back countless pleasant memories of the city and the people!! Many thanks.

Lawrence, Los Angeles

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Marianplatz and that general area is truly one of the best Christmas celebrations in the world. Between that and Oktoberfest (which I can only imagine) Munich is one of the greatest cities in the world for major annual events.

Christopher Dale, New York, NY

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Hi Bev, you have done some wonderful pieces on some great celebs...Great work. The travel articles are just wonderful too.

Scott Mueller, Huntington Beach, CA

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Your great Zurich article makes me want to go there for the holidays! I love the photos, too, especially the ones of you in the sleigh, the view over the houses and the zoo!

Anna Marie, Santa Monica, CA

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Lovely article! As a European, and having been to Zurich (albeit in summer) I can vouch for this lovely city. Great pictures, too!

Helene Robins, Santa Monica, CA

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Hi Bev,

Nice review, nice seeing you, nice website interface "...Talk to Bev" - Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Richard D. Kaye, Marina del Rey, CA

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Hi Bev,

Your interview with John Cusack is very interesting. I always wondered why these actors/actresses always get top billing when really, if you think about it, the real work come from the animators, writers and tech whizzes who spend far more hours on the movie than those actors. I know, I know, it's the all about marketing. The names of these actors are what bring in the big bucks. Still, I think these actors are way overpaid for the "little" that they do.

I remember that once upon a time, the early animation classics never mentioned the voices behind the characters. I think it was only later when Walt Disney tapped into the voices of known celebrities like Walter Matthau in the Jungle Book or Zsa Zsa Gabor in The Rescuers that the voices became a marketing magnet.

Keep up the good work. I enjoy your interviews as you peer into the lives of the Hollywood celebrities.

Peter Paul of South Pasadena, CA

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