How have holidays changed over the last 30 years?

Why do we care here at FHR? Well, it’s our 30th birthday this year so we’re looking back at the big changes in travel over the last 30 years for fun. Fancy smoking on a plane? Not a fan of baggage allowances? Not fussed about WIFI? A 1980s holiday could be for you…

Online check-in?

There was none of this organised nonsense in the 1980s! Oh, no, booking a ticket was done over the phone speaking to a REAL person, your ticket would arrive by MAIL unless you were collecting it, and check-in was always done IN PERSON at the airport!

Security: No 3-D imaging or stripping for that matter…

Keep your shoes, belt, jewellery, a.k.a. pretty much everything on, when going through a metal detector, and no need to worry about pat-downs. And liquid allowances for hand luggage, what’s that? You didn’t have to worry about the strict security we now have at airports across the country. The list of prohibited substances was much smaller and there are stories of people taking knives onboard before security upped its game.

Got baggage?

Over the weight limit? Too many cases? Who cares? Luggage wasn’t even weighed or cases counted for that matter. The 1980s saw people bringing copious amounts of stuff on holiday with them, and they could still get several bags of booze in duty free and a carton of cigarettes on the plane to boot.


1980s airports weren’t quite as riveting as Heathrow’s Terminal 5 is today. There weren’t a variety of shops, no spas, a limited number of lounges and forget that art exhibition you wanted to look around. Your best friend was that saucy Jilly Cooper novel you picked up from WH Smith’s which would end up dog-eared and sandy or happily lost in the Mediterranean Sea.

Smoking no more

In the 1980s you could book yourself into the smoking section of the plane and be happily puffing away while on board when the light actually went out on the smoking cigarette icon crossed through with the big bad red line. And even if you didn’t book into that section you’d be sure to get caught up in the haze of cigarette smoke as you navigated your way to the toilet.

Good airplane food…wait, what?

Airplane food used to be something to be avoided. In fact, lots of people cited it as the source of their food poisoning. Nowadays it’s different…

A plane old phone

Remember Die Hard 2 when Holly McClane is on the phone to John McClane (also known as Bruce Willis) from her plane stranded in the sky? Yep, cutting edge technology in the 1980s gave you use of a corded phone on-board for extortionate prices…worth it? Holly McCane seemed to think so.

Socialising? Shocking!

Once upon a time in the 1980s, WIFI wasn’t a thing, you’d actually socialise with your family and friends while you were away. You wouldn’t even have a pesky smart phone to take photos. You could anticipate your holiday snaps being developed and you’d have your friends over with a glass of wine or a cold beer and bore them to death with your ‘wonderful’ photos of Gerry in his speedos and the lobster-red children of doom.

So, what can you take away from 30 years of holiday changes?

We have been around for 30 years now, and in that time we’ve kept up with a lot of change. So, what’s the takeaway?

  • Online check-in is a dream
  • Stick to the baggage allowance to avoid big fees
  • Remember to have you last smoke BEFORE you go through security
  • Still buy that beach book to enjoy while you’re away!
  • Airplane food is no longer that bad
  • Maybe consider a WIFI-free holiday– they survived in the 1980s after all…
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