Up In The Air

Reviewed By  Janet Mawdesley       November 26, 2014


Author  Betty Riegel

ISBN:                 978-1-47111-225-6
Publisher:         Simon & Schuster
Release Date:    

Website:    http://www.simonandschuster.com.au 

In this modern age of cheap flights and easy air travel we tend to forget that in the not so distant past air travel was for the select few who could afford the luxury of being able to travel in style.

It came with all the accoutrements of class – whether you had it or not, so long as you could pay for your passage. You got dressed up in your “Sunday best” and looked forward to the event with a great deal of excitement as the novelty, as well as the luxury, of flying to another country was something that people dreamed about for years: and the ordinary working class person only dreamed about..

The few major Airlines competed for the business of the wealthy but there were still a couple of cheaper airlines flying the short hop routes from London to Paris or similar. It was to this world Betty Reigel first came, and here in this world she began to realise her dream, that of becoming a Pam Am stewardess: a position which carried with it prestige and challenge and one that demanded the very best from the staff at all times.


Reigel has painted very vivid picture of life as it was and more particularly life in the air as a stewardess for the world’s most prestigious airline: she also broke the glass ceiling that existed at the time that a girl from a very definitely working class family that struggled to make ends meet, could set out, work hard enough and become one of only seventeen British girls selected for the prestigious Pan Am training course.

Join her as she shares her ups and downs, in every sense of the words, as she struggles to overcome airsickness, long hours on her feet, serving first class meals freshly prepared and cooked in the middle of a cyclone and doing her very vigorous on-going training under the very stern eye of Pan Am housemothers.

Reigel gives us a very rare glimpse into a career which had it all: glamour, travel, fantastic uniforms which where the envy of many, handsome passengers, stop-overs in exotic places; a world which then was available only to a select few.

Up in the Air is a delightful look into a world long gone, delivered in a very readable, enjoyable manner delivered with a touch of Pan Am style to the very last word.

If you want to see whether you would have measured up to the tough selection standards of the Pan Am crew check out the last pages in the book. Makes you wonder.