Business Travel in the 1980s vs 2016
Business trips form a big part of the working week for many people these days. Often part of an already hugely overloaded schedule, it's good to know that our workday doesn't have to be interrupted too much. Modern technology has changed the way we do business; the tools we have at our disposal and the channels of communication we have access to just didn't exist in the 80's.
Airplane food is much, much better than it used to be, the inflight entertainment is excellent, the bar is as good as it has always been and fingerless gloves are thankfully a thing of the past. Airplanes have internet on them now, and you don't have to listen to the horrid noise of dial-up before you connect. There's a virtual arcade in the built in in-flight entertainment system, and in each of your mobile devices for that matter! And there are more deserts on offer than just Angel Delight and Viennetta, even on your flight.
Business travel as a concept was born in the 1980's but it's been improving steadily as the decades tick by. Things have come a long way since the glory days of E.T and Alf.
1. The booking process
Simply booking your flight was a different experience in the 1980's. Flight comparison websites didn't exist, that was an afternoon spent calling travel agents searching for the best deal possible. Of course booking online wasn't an option either; instead you had to drop into the travel agent to make payment. The 80's really were an era where the travel agent was king. Nowadays, you can do it all yourself through the magic of the internet. Of course the information highway did exist in the 80's but for most it was through sophisticated platforms like Teletext and Ceefax.
2. No smoking
The ashtray on the inside of the bathroom door, the no smoking signs above the seats, these are markings of a time gone by. Nowadays it's difficult for smokers to find a place to light up. They've been pushed out of bars, restaurants, cinemas, office buildings and airplanes (not literally of course!). But this wasn't always the case. In the 1980's most aircraft had a smoking section, separated from the rest of the passengers by a curtain. It goes without saying that the second hand smoke travelled freely throughout the rest of the aircraft, engulfing the entire aircraft in the glorious smell of cigarette smoke. Nowadays you arrive at your destination smelling a little fresher.
Airport security, as we all know, has tightened up incredibly over the last few years. You have a better chance of getting a pair of ice skates on board than a tube of toothpaste. In years gone by, things were that much simpler. There was no such thing as a full body scanner, you were allowed to leave your shoes on when boarding a plane and if you wanted to take a litre of water on board, there was no issue, the more water the better! If you're familiar with the ordeal of airport security in 2016, you will know what steps to take to get through it without missing a beat. But for those who don't travel so often, figuring out the rules and regulations is like trying to solve a Rubik's cube behind your back.
Remember the good old days, when all your business expenses had to be recorded manually on slips of paper? Business travellers had to fill out a report matrix in ink, attach all the relevant receipts and bring it back to the boss for them to sign off on. Once it was approved it needed to be stamped and then the reimbursement cheque was issued. Needles to say, this was a long and painful process but things have come a long way since then. Nowadays, you just charge your expenses to the company account, it's as easy as passing level one of Pac-Man.
5. The little things
You know those little individually wrapped soaps you get at your hotel room? There was a time when they adorned the shelves of airplane bathrooms across the world. We're pretty sure it was the compulsion for people to take them that lead to their demise. They must have cost the airlines money in the long run! Nostalgic types will tell you that they miss the little things like that. But most we think enjoy the more economical liquid soap on offer in modern airplane bathrooms.
6. Mobile phones
Mobile phones, as we know them were nothing more than a dream for business travellers of the 1980's. Business travellers back then used a cordless touchtone phone. Unless of course they were doing well enough to afford the state-of-the-art Motorolla DynaTAC 80000X. As the world's first commercial handheld mobile phone it was held in high esteem by business travellers from around the globe. This was despite the fact that it weighed two pounds and facilitated just thirty minutes of talking time, after a ten-hour charge! And the cost of this high tech piece of travel tech? A gob-smacking $3,995! Imagine how many iPhones you could buy with that.
7. Checking in
Automated check in was not always at our disposal. Nowadays, you just show up, press a few buttons and before you know it you have your boarding pass in hand, your carry on luggage is gliding along behind you and you're on your way to the gate. Back in the 1980's things took a little longer. Standing in queue, you waited for one of the airline desk agents to beckon you over for check in. After handing over your tickets, the waiting game began as they proceeded to search the giant IBM computer for your reservation through a series of deafening keystrokes. Checking in is definitely more pleasant in 2016.
8. Arriving at your destination
As soon as the wheels hit the runway, you hear mobile phones starting up. Texts, Whatsapps, Emails and Viber messages are being sent out to let family, friends and colleagues know the plane has arrived, how long it will take to get to arrivals and where to meet. Before we had instant communication all these plans had to be made in advance. And you had to live in the hope that your welcoming party would remember exactly where and when they were to meet you. Otherwise it would be an announcement over the airport loudspeaker to bring you and your welcome party together, assuming they got their days right of course!
Matt (Bag Wingman)