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TWA Hotel JFK, reflecting on Air Travel of a Bygone Era

The TWA Hotel at JFK (John F. Kennedy) Airport immediately brought back memories from my 1960s and 1970s childhood as an air traveler with my parents.

As a matter of fact, the impression of the revamped 1962 TWA Flight Center into a hotel of today is as special in my mind now as it was back decades ago!

The TWA Hotel JFK idea

Trans World Airlines (TWA) was a great major U.S. airline in operation during the Golden Age of Flying. It was a major airline operator out of JFK in New York.

Other major airlines back in those days providing the greatest service included Continental Airlines, United Airlines, Pan Am, and a few others.

Reflections of a bygone Golden Age of Flying

Back in the 1950s and into the early 1970s flying on an airline was considered something you did with high standards. Dressing up for the flight was mandatory.

The airline service was supreme back in those good old days. Being a Stewardess (Flight Attendant) was synonymous with glamor and envy. The stewardesses were always smiling. They were all having fun. Passengers were simply treated as a commodity.

Your captain was a “God-like figure” back then. Yet he was nearing retirement after first fighting Hitler or Hirohito from his cockpit back in World War 2. Younger pilots were products of the post WW2 era. Some had fought in the Korean War. These pilots were no-nonsense, kick-butt Lee Marvin-type guys who commanded a lot of respect.

Back then, the TWA Flight Center was also as synonymous with the JFK Airport as the flight crews of the Golden Age flying in and out of there!

The end of the Golden Age

This Golden Era, however, vanished at the onset of the airline deregulation act back in the early 1980s. Traveling by air became a burden on many, and the glamor quickly disappeared.

In the 1980s, Newark Airport (EWR) was expanded to become a major New York-area airport, beginning with the birth of People Express Airlines. People Express merged with Continental Airlines. JFK Airport then lost further traction as the main attraction of major airports in the area.

Then came 911. If air travel had not been stressful enough before 911, the entire airline industry changed. Flying became a necessary inconvenience you had to endure if you needed to travel by air.

TWA flew its last flight on December 1, 2001, taken over by American Airlines.

TWA Hotel JFK’s ambiance at night

Walking through the TWA hotel at night creates a feeling of romanticism and ambiance. The night transforms the hotel into an ambiance of romanticism, reminiscent of time from the past. It’s as if a shroud of mysticism suddenly appears. The darkness outside partially shields the view of the ultra-modern jets parked outside. More than 50 years have already passed since the end of the Golden Age of Flying.

Outside, TWA Hotel JFK at night
Outside view of the TWA Hotel JFK.
Departure, Arrival
TWA “Departure-Arrival” hall.
TWA hotel phone boots
Payphones with rotary dials.

The TWA Connie

The Lockheed Constellation also called “the Connie” was produced from 1943 to 1958. 856 of these widely used airliners were built. This one is on display outside the hotel, available for viewing outside and inside.

Connie front
TWA’s Star of America Connie.
TWA Hotel JFK, Connie stairs
Airstairs to the Connie.
TWA Hotel JFK, Connie cockpit
The cockpit of the Connie.

Pictures provided by Bud Kraus of JoyOfWP. Featured image: TWA Hotel JFK interior pictures.

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