What could you do on planes in the USSR, but you can't now? (PHOTOS)

Service on board Il-62.

Service on board Il-62.

Vladimir Ivanov/Sputnik
In Soviet times, it was impossible to buy airline tickets online (for obvious reasons!), but they did try to make flights as comfortable as possible. So, what services were offered to passengers?

The birth year of Soviet civil aviation is considered to be 1923, when ‘Dobrolet’ (‘Good Flight’), the Russian Voluntary Air Fleet Society, was established. And, already in 1932, the now famous ‘Aeroflot’ was created on its basis. It was the main and the only airline of the Soviet Union. The range of services and opportunities for Soviet passengers on board was much greater than it is now. Below we’ve listed what you could do in the last century, which is now remembered with nostalgia.

Smoking on board

Passenger cabin of Tu-134 airplane, 1964.

In the Soviet years, just like on most other international airlines, it was possible to smoke during the flight. Smoking section seats were usually located in the rear. In the mid-1980s, smoking was banned on flights shorter than three hours. Today, as you know, smoking is completely banned on all commercial flights worldwide, not even electronic cigarettes or vape accessories.

Dining in economy like first class

Service on board the IL-62 airplane, 1980.

Service classes varied, as they do today, but all passengers had a hot meal included in their ticket when flying for more than two hours. The menu was especially refined on international flights, where red and black caviar was typically offered, including in economy class.

Meals on airplanes was invented back in the 1930s. One of the first Soviet airplanes, the ANT-20 ‘Maxim Gorky’, had a bar where you could buy light snacks, aperitifs and fruit.

A woman and child on board an airplane, 1960s.

Elza Gorodetskaya, one of the first Soviet stewardesses, who worked on the Moscow-Ashkhabad-Moscow route in 1939, meanwhile, would buy her own food and prepare sandwiches and other simple dishes for passengers.

Back then, long-distance flights were often with connecting flights and it was only possible to have a hot meal between connecting flights in the stopover airport terminal restaurant. The opportunity to serve hot meals on board appeared only on the Tu-104 in the 1950s. It was the first Soviet commercial airliner with a built-in kitchen.

Sitting face to face at the table

The first Soviet jet airplane Tu-104 performs the first regular flight Moscow - Omsk - Irkutsk.

The Tu-104, also the first jet-powered passenger airplane, began to make regular flights in the mid-1950s. These airplanes were extensively used to fly both domestically and on international routes. And, in a number of cabin modifications, some select seats were facing each other, with tables between them.

Passengers in an airplane cabin. 1960.

Passengers could play chess and checkers with each other or just socialize more conveniently.

Tu-144 supersonic airplane, 1970.

Rows of seats facing each other were also available in other Soviet airplanes, such as the supersonic Tu-144.

Sleeping on beds

In the cabin of the Soviet passenger airplane Tu-114, 1957.

Soviet engineers, when creating the first passenger airplanes, wanted to add home comforts to the interiors. Therefore, in old photos you can see and expensive finishes and chairs according to the fashion of those years, as well as cozy curtains. And, in the Tu-114, first class passengers were provided with sleeping places on real beds.

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