Centrav Resources
Travel Agent in the 1980's

30 Signs You Were a Travel Agent in the 1980’s

30 Signs You Were a Travel Agent 30 Years Ago

1. You gave your clients brochures to help guide their vacation planning.

Bonus points if you had an entire wall display for your brochures.

2. You remember looking up airfare rates on a fare sheet.

Columns and columns of numbers…

3. You’ve ever booked flights on Northwest, Braniff, Pan Am, or TWA.

Pan Am was the airline of choice for James Bond in his first four films.

4. You’ve ever received a call from a client who lost a paper ticket.

“I’m sorry, you’ll have to buy a new one. I will file a lost ticket claim.”

5. You can tell stories about handwriting tickets with 6+ flight segments.

Be sure to write in all your city codes!

6. You didn’t need a ticket to get through TSA.

Cue scene from just about any 80’s rom-com: frantic male lead is tearing through the airport, leaping over suitcases and luggage carts to reveal his true feelings to his lady friend. If you find yourself in this predicament in 2018, you’ll have to send a text.

7. Family members waited at the gate.

Because of those lax security rules, family members often met your client right as they walked off a flight with a big “Welcome Home!” sign.

8. You remember being fed actual meals on flights.

Sure, it might have been a soggy ham and cheese sandwich with a spotty banana, but it was better than pretzels!

9. You remember when you could bring almost anything through security.

Knives with blades up to 4 inches, scissors, box cutters, drinks… the giant can of Aussie hairspray you needed to perfect your voluminous perm. 

10. Your in-flight entertainment was a book, a deck of cards, or your walkman.

…or maybe knitting yourself a new pair of legwarmers.

11. You miss the days when you didn’t have to fight other passengers for space in the overhead bin.

Checked bags were free!

12. There was a time you never dreamed of charging your client a service fee for anything.

Airline commissions were normal and substantial.

13. You’ve called an airline to check your client’s flight status and reconfirm.

No Google, no flight status apps, no text alerts.

14. You once encouraged your client to arrive at the airport at least 30 minutes before a flight, just to be safe.

Those were the days.

15. Your office space was decorated with postcards from happy clients.

To be honest, we kind of miss the days when the mail brought us something other than bills.

16. Security was quick, but checking in took forever.

You waited as the airline rep searched for your info in a massive, IBM computer.

17. You’ve ever done a ticket transfer.

Yes, there was a time you could actually transfer your ticket to someone else if you weren’t going to use it…

18. You’ve shown your vacation photos on a slide projector.

If your friends and family wanted to see pictures from your trip they would actually come over to your house and watch your slides on a projector. The original “social media” actually had a social aspect.

19. You wouldn’t have dreamed of taking a flat lay picture of your hotel breakfast.

This is because the number of pictures of your camera roll was limited and expensive to print. Every shot you took had to be worth it!

20. You’ve ever owned a Lonely Planet travel guidebook.

At $20-30 per country, we sure are thankful for the Internet!

21. An airplane seat armrest embedded with an ashtray wouldn’t throw you off.

Smoking was not completely prohibited on all US flights until 2000.

22. Taxes and fees for international flights were much, much lower.

We’re talking $40, not $500!

23. You know what a Rolodex is.

You held on to this system for at least 3 years after the Y2K scare.

24. You still own a set of luggage without wheels.

Thank goodness these were free to check and you didn’t have to carry it far.

25. You sent your clients a physical, paper map for their trip.

If you were really good, you probably circled their hotel, restaurants, and some important stops.

26. You know what travelers’ cheques are.

A fairly awkward currency, really. It was nice to put this one behind us.

27. You’ve ever rushed to the airport to bring your clients their paper tickets.

Obviously, this only ever happened if their flight departed at 4 am.

28. You remember when people would actually look out the window and be amazed by the fact that they were FLYING.

Today’s travelers are not even impressed with the ability to check their emails, update Twitter, and watch a movie 30,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. 

29. You’ve felt the pain of dealing with more than one airline merger.

Lost luggage, flight delays, lost reservation…

30. You remember when GDS interfaces were super easy to understand and user-friendly.

Oh wait, that was never! Good thing you have Centrav.com!

Shawna Levet

Shawna is passionate about helping travel agents grow their business and expand their knowledge as travel experts. She has been in the travel industry since 2011, helping agents and travelers alike find the best negotiated airfare and travel coverage to meet their needs.


  • Don’t forget reval stickers, red carbon and fare extenders. Three part speedy reply forms and submitting the airline report every Monday with the adding machine tape. Those were days when the industry actually was fun! Alumni ‘1972; Surviving 2018

  • Nearly 40 years a full time travel professional and remember all of these plus many more . I also remember when the airlines treated us as valued partners and we worked together to take care of clients. I also remember handwriting tickets and getting that red carbon all over my hands , desk and sometimes sleeves of my clothing. Remember the OAG books and the giant binders that held the tariff pages that arrived constantly and got filed in and out?