An absolutely delightful video has emerged of a Pan Am training class teaching flight attendants how to deal with the “Smoker.” In this retro video, we find the original “Karen” lung-deep in a Virginia Slim while seated in the non-smoking section of the plane.
Pan Am American World Airways, commonly referred to as Pan Am, was the preeminent airline in the 20th Century. The name evoked an image of glamour and class in what some might call the golden age of travel when men wore suits on planes, everyone got a meal, the airplane logos were badass, and there was always plenty of legroom.
Plus, you could smoke and sexually harass the stewardesses.
Yes, not all that glittered was gold in the so-called golden age of travel, and while it’s kind of fun to remember the good ole days when airlines like Pan Am ruled the skies, the stinky truth was it was also a weird time to travel with far too many just-plan-icky things going on. Like only hiring women to be flight attendants, or calling them stewardesses. And then treating them like crap.
Yes, smoking was a thing you could do just about everywhere. From schools to businesses, to churches, even grocery stores, and yes air planes. People smoked everywhere. I still have vivid memories of shopping in a Bashas Grocery store in Arizona as a child in the 80’s where people were smoking.
Smoking on planes was a thing too. In fact, you can still find planes that have functional ashtrays on them. Ironically, there used to be a smoking section on planes. This concept is wild to think about now, but it was an actual thing, as hard as that is to believe.
And it’s here where we find this fascinating Pan Am training video from the 80’s that teaches stewardesses, er flight attendants, how to deal with the kind of smoker we now would call a “Karen.”
In the video, two women are traveling on a Pan Am flight, and one of them is sitting in a non-smoking section while sucking down a few nails. The video helps teach prospective flight crew how to defuse a situation where a passenger isn’t cooperating, including how to de-escalate a potentially stressful situation.
It’s a cool retro video, and we think you’d all like it. Here you go: