Here’s a delightful way to start the new year. It’s a 1970 advertisement for Aeroflot, the national airline of the former Soviet Union and, at the time, the largest airline in the world. This is one groovy extravaganza. In addition to stewardesses in go-go boots (and that’s what they were then, stewardesses…not “flight attendants”) we get a glimpse of the kind of people who flew Aeroflot. I don’t speak Russian, but I recognize the drunk man, the less drunk business man, the puffy matron, the tortured poet and the aging Bolsheviks. Drink it in like a bracing shot of ice cold vodka.
As a kid, I always thought Aeroflot sounded like “Aeroflop”, a name that hardly instills confidence in flying. It actually translates as “Air Fleet”. That makes sense. If only we could make sense of this ad. What are the stewardesses saying to the passengers while fulfilling their various requests? And what are the passengers asking for?
I won’t leave you hanging. “Here you go”…a shortened version of the same clip with the added bonus of subtitles and a sharper picture.
Is there anything they won’t bring you on Aeroflot? Pencils, lotions, flowers, “fruit juice”, crossword puzzles, cherry jam, dominoes, raincoats, mattresses? And I never would have guessed that the old Bolsheviks were asking for salad. Perhaps that was something Russians would have found funny in 1970. “Ha, ha! Bolsheviks eating salad. That’s rich!”
I don’t get it, but that’s because I’m no Red, dammit.
I also note that they sing about smiling a lot. I imagine that that was a rarity in the Soviet Union of the time. Some of these women seem incapable of smiling even as they’re singing about smiling.
After the dissolution of the U.S.S.R., Aeroflot became partially privatized, although the Russian government still owns a majority stake. They updated their aging fleet with new planes from western companies like Boeing and Airbus. In an effort to update their image, they hired a British PR firm which came up with this. Judging from the technology, it can’t be more than ten years old. And yet, God bless them, they still maintain those delightful uniforms.
Stewardess uniforms. I can fly with that.