Saturday, November 22, 2008

"21st-century gracious"

Oh, boy!  Here I  am, trying to preserve stories about gracious passenger flight on Northwest Airlines in the 1950s for posterity, and now Delta informs me that "21st-century gracious" is the new brand identity for THE BIGGEST AIRLINE IN THE WORLD.
Was it a sleeper cell in the Northwest DNA that infected Delta - once the two became one last month - and created this new identity?  I say sleeper cell because there sure hasn't been much evidence of graciousness being awake on Northwest in recent years, at least in my personal flying experience.
So okay, Delta, we read of your wine selections, an Italian sparkling named Prosecco and a warm, fuzzy red from Sonoma called Cashmere; your "hipper, more contemporary music for boarding;" your "elegant and classy" new celebrity-designer uniforms; and your nationally-known chefs for first class and coach dining.
But tell me, Big Guy, where is the Lowrey organ providing live dinner music?  Where, oh, where is the spiral staircase leading to the cocktail lounge?  How about Fujiyama hors d'oeuvres trays and Oshibori towels?  An aisle wide enough for two adults to pass one another without touching?  Sleeping berths?  An invitation to ride in the cockpit?  Prime rib sliced to your preference - rare, medium or well done?  
I could go on and on.  Suffice it to say I'll keep on collecting and sharing tales of the era of the red tail, when gracious was gracious, not needing to be further defined by century, or unveiled as a "brand" at a wine-tasting party.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fujiyama Trays

The Fujiyama Tray as recreated by Lady Skywriter

Yes, there are Kokeshi Dolls on the tray as there were fifty years ago, but they are hard to see in this photo.  The pineapple in the center is studded with cheeses, meat cubes, olives and baby cherry tomatoes. Assorted fresh fruits, more cheeses, meats, veggies and dipping sauces surround the pineapple.  Crackers are arranged on a separate tray and flutes of sparkling fruit juice await nearby. 
This was the scene recently at the Minnetonka Community Center when Lady Skywriter made a presentation about the fabulous passenger flight experience on Northwest Airline's Boeing Stratocruisers back in the 1950s. 
As participants snacked on the Fujiyama Tray, they were entertained by a PowerPoint presentation featuring photos of the unique features of the finest, fastest, most elegant propeller-driven passenger aircraft ever built. She featured sleeping berths more commodious than railroad berths and air to ground telephone service in an age when cell phones weren't even thought of.  A winding staircase just aft of the main cabin door led to the Fujiyama Room, a horseshoe-shaped cocktail lounge on the lower deck. One of the Stratocruisers was equipped with a Lowrey Organ, which was played by itinerate organists on non-stop flights between Minneapolis and New York. Fashion shows and church services were held aloft in Northwest's Stratocruisers.  
As participants freshened up with a warm, scented Oshibori Towel at the close of the presentation, they reflected on a kinder, gentler time in commercial aviation when passengers dressed up to travel and were rewarded with an elegant experience.
To arrange to host this fun and interesting program for your civic, fraternal, business or church group, please click on the pencil at the bottom of this post, leave your name, E-mail address or phone number and Lady Skywriter will get back to you promptly.
Lady Skywriter's book, Fujiyama Trays and Oshibori Towels Recalling a time when passenger flight was an adventure and the Boeing Stratocruiser ruled the skies, will soon be available on this website. 

Friday, November 14, 2008

Holding Pattern

Yup - that is where my blog has been these past few weeks.  In a holding pattern while I deal with the insistent, persistent and multiple details of publishing.  I've been thinking about those of you who loyally check in periodically to see what Lady Skywriter has to say. And I hope you haven't yet flown the coop.
Happily, Fujiyama Trays & Oshibori Towels, Recalling a time when passenger flight was an adventure and the Boeing Stratocruiser ruled the skies is out of the editing process and presently in formatting.  Printing is next.  You can be sure I will keep you posted!
I am reminded of the days when New York flight arrivals were consigned to a holding pattern before landing at Idlewild (now J.F.K.) airport.  Domestic flights were commonly stacked up waiting for incoming transatlantic flights, with diminishing fuel on board, to land before we worked our way down the chain to finally touch down.  On clear days we could visually identify some of our cohorts up there, but the holding pattern condition was often complicated by weather.  As we lazily creaked and groaned in our elongated circles through the impenetrable overcast, I used to marvel at the technology and talent that kept us all separated and in order.  Passengers were less interested in the process, to say the least.  They were concerned about missing connecting flights or keeping people waiting for their arrival.  We did our best to convey passenger information to connecting airlines through pilot radio communications.  But the passengers themselves were out of the communications loop.  Hard to believe now that most of us are equipped with cell phones. So thanks for your patience in the holding pattern.  I resolve to communicate with you in a more timely fashion henceforth.  
Today's acquisition factoids:  Delta has announced that Northwest's big 747-400's will be the first airplanes in the fleet to be repainted in Delta's colors.  The red tail is beginning to fade away sooner, rather than later.  Soon after the first of the year all of the NWA flight personnel will be wearing Delta uniforms.  And those of us who hold NWA World Perks Visa cards are being urged to sign up for Delta's American Express SkyMiles card.  (See an earlier blog titled "World Perks? Any Perks?" dated April 17,2008.)