MGM Grand Air: Hollywood In The Sky

"Imagine an airline like no other, an airline so superior in style and substance it recalls a past time when traveling was an elite experience. Imagine an airline that promises no lines to wait in, no check-in counters, no lost luggage and no waiting for luggage.

Imagine an airline that flies exclusively between New York and Los Angeles on a very convenient business-oriented schedule. Now imagine that this unique airline that delivers true luxury costs the same as ordinary first class on most airlines. Imagine no more. MGM Grand Air is here. Introduce yourself to Grand-class service."

MGM Grand Air...the most luxurious airline of the 1980's was an all-first-class shuttle serv­ice between L.A. and New York.

For five years, MGM Grand was Hollywood in the sky. Stars like Madonna, Robert De Niro, Julia Roberts, Eddie Murphy, Tom Cruise, Johnny Carson, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson all used the airline to fly Grand-Class First non-stop from LAX to NYC.

MGM was pure 80's opulence and something we have been obsessed with ever since Sandra Bernhard spoke about it in her one-woman show "Without You I'm Nothing".

"It wasn't like any other plane I'd ever flown in," recalls actress and host of "Sandyland" on Sirius XM, Sandra Bernhard. "That thing had more rooms than a mansion. And everybody was flying it — models and celebrities — so you'd always be running into people. There'll never be anything like it again."

First class was the only class on MGM Grand. In fact, the airline's motto was at one point "Everything else should be called second class."

Kirk Kerkorian, the on-again, off-again owner of MGM Studios (and the man whom many credits with ruining MGM) was the guy who put MGM in the air.

In the mid-1980s Kerkorian saw an opening in the high-end travel market, bought a few 727s, redid the interiors with details like gold-plated faucets in the bathrooms and began a twice-daily service between the coasts, charging the same as most airlines charged for their first class...but MGM went a few steps beyond.

In the front part of the plane, there was a bar where passengers could mingle and a lounge in the main cabin with leather swivel chairs where a caviar cart would be wheeled your way.

There were also berth-like "staterooms" in the back of the plane where celebrities could close a privacy curtain, unfold their seats into a queen-sized bed and spend the flight relaxing (or whatever) in total seclusion. Apparently, during one memorable trip, two A-list actresses shared a curtained-off stateroom and kept the plane wide awake with their noisy mile-high canoodling.

The airline was such a part of pop culture, that "Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous" did a piece on it.  We see you Ivana Trump.

Grand Class with Gold Seatbelts.

According to a former flight attendant:
"MGM was truly a grand airline. The jet had 32 to 34 seats. The love seat in the middle of the jet near the bar was very seldom used. the cool thing was the four staterooms, each sat 4 with 2 seats facing each other. A table was put up for dining and if you wanted to sleep, the seats pulled together, the backs went down and it turned into a queen-sized bed. there was a TV on both walls of the room so you could watch a movie from any view."

Gayle Giannotti, who was an MGM attendant from 1989 to 1993. says the job gave her a priceless education. "I learned how Hollywood works, I learned that the stars were at the bottom of the pecking order. They'd spend the whole flight sucking up to the studio executives."

In the 80's nothing said "RICH" like an air fax machine, air phone, and air conference rooms.

In 1990, Kerkorian bought bigger DC-8s, which included not only 35 "Grand Class First" seats up front but also a 40-seat "Grand Class Coach" section in the back fitted with more modest leather loungers that went for about $600 a ticket. The new cheap(ish) seats were still cushy — better than domestic first on most carriers today — but the change took the luster off the airline's glamour.

The magic was soon over...MGM went bankrupt leaving celebrities and Hollywood elite to find different ways to travel to NYC.  

Too bad, because you can't go back to commercial after this:

If you are still nostalgic for the good old days of MGM Grand Air, you can always visit the Imperial Terminal that was the hub of MGM activity at LAX.

MGM Grand Air, Hollywood in the sky....we ❤️ you!!!
MGM Grand Air: Hollywood In The Sky MGM Grand Air: Hollywood In The Sky Reviewed by #IheartHollywood on October 20, 2018 Rating: 5

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