Toth moved one of his prize possessions, the front third of a Boeing 747, to Air Hollywood, where it serves as the venue for the Pan Am Experience. But that’s not all he moved. The aircraft itself is outfitted with original Pan Am seats, table settings and serving carts, all from Toth’s collection.
Stewardesses, hired via a casting call, wear original Pan Am uniforms, courtesy of Toth. Fliers can even choose among a selection of original 1970s magazines. (When John Travolta held his birthday party at the Pan Am Experience in February, he spotted a cover about a new Hollywood sensation named John Travolta.)
On the evening I attended the Pan Am Experience, two former Pan Am stewardesses were among the patrons — or fliers, if you will. Cecrle flew with the airline from 1969 to 1976, calling those years the best of her life. She showed up wearing the wings pin she wore during her years in the sky.
Also sitting in the mocked-up first class section was Maureen Taylor, a Pasadena resident who worked the Pan Am aisles between 1964 and 1966.
On this night, though, Cecrle and Taylor needed only to eat, drink and enjoy the show.
The “flight” began with safety instructions, issued with a combination of respectful reverence and humor. The five-course meal, designed from actual Pan Am menus, was served with real silverware and on real china.
Choices included three entrees but most everyone went with the chateaubriand. A fourth course of cheese, fruit and port wine left me almost too full for dessert. But the chocolate cake was so light and tasty that I couldn’t stop myself from finishing it.
“Fliers” sitting on the second level of the 747, in what would have been the lounge on a Pan Am flight, also enjoyed a caviar course.
Just as the planes were configured in the 1970s, there was a lot more space between the seats on this one than one would find now. The business (Clipper) class, where I sat featured a trainlike setup: two and two facing each other, with a table in between.
For entertainment, the stewardesses doubled as fashion models, parading the aisles in various iterations of the Pan Am uniforms. The “in-flight” movie was “Airplane!”
Captan says that while he has never advertised the Pan Am Experience, it nonetheless fills up every time it’s held, which is every two weeks, at the starting price of $490 a pair.
“After two years, we have tried so many things that you are looking at the perfect experience of Pan Am,” he said.