My first flight was on a Piper Cub and as a ten year old it was exciting. A month later, June 1953, my mother, brother and I flew from New York to Nuremburg on a KLM Super Constellation. Leaving Idlewild, now JFK, we flew to Gander, Newfoundland for refueling. The next stop was at 4AM in Shannon Ireland. We disembarked to have breakfast which was served by waiters in mourning coats. Next stop was Amsterdam where we got on a twin engine plane, perhaps a DC3 tail dragger, on which we flew to Nuremburg. I'd estimate total travel time at close to 24 hours. On the flight, I got to visit the cockpit and the captain presented me with KLM wings. On the return trip, we refueled in Glasgow instead of Shannon. I remember we had two giant green suitcases and Mom had a hat box. Those cases must have weighed over 60 pounds each! I believe that there was first class and tourist on the flight.
Next flight was on American Airlines from LGA to Midway in Chicago on a DC-6B prop jet in 1957. Very comfortable with real China, real glassware, real cutlery and real food. I remember Mom appropriating a cloth place mat that had the American Airlines logo embroidered into it. 1969 marked my first flight on a 747 - TWA first class JFK to Dallas. Total amazement entering a jumbo for the first time. Although the area is now used for first class or biz class seating, the second floor was a first class lounge with unlimited complimentary beverages. When I arrived at the Avis counter, they said they had no cars available even though I had a reservation. They insisted on taking me to my hotel and promised a car would be there the next morning, which it was. Compliments to well trained staff to not allow a customer who obviously was too inebriated to drive in a very diplomatic way. I'm forever grateful.
Later the same year I flew 1st class LAX to JFK on a TWA on a 707. Danny Thomas, the tv star, sat across the aisle from me and slept most of the trip. When he awakened he did a five minute monologue for us and then went to coach where he did another twenty minutes! What a gentleman. Don't forget to donate to St. Jude's Children's Hospital!
Many other flights in the 70's on Allegheny in New York State with smaller planes including a converted C-47. Moving to Florida in the 80's we took a lot of short family trips on what was my favorite airline - Piedmont. A variety of planes, wonderful cabin crews and the greatest free box lunches. And triple mileage. And a minimum of 1,000 miles x 3 for each leg flown. To get from West Palm Beach to Asheville you'd earn 9,000 miles each way. In two years time, we earned enough miles for two round trips to Europe for three of us plus free car rentals while there.
As far as the TSA, in the 60's I traveled between NYC and Washington quite often on the Eastern shuttle. Park in the free lot and run onto the tarmac and board the 727 that was waiting. No ticket? Buy it on board. Frequent fliers could get a book of tickets at a discounted price. I believe the fare was $16 one way. If the plane was full, they'd have another on standby even if there was only 1 passenger. I was on a second plane once with four others.
I've made many other flights in the last thirty years but those are the ones with the fondest memories.