What’s changed since Planes, Trains & Automobiles was released 36 years ago

As we do each year we’re once again watching the classic (and my favorite movie of all time) Planes, Trains & Automobiles. Released on November 25 1987, the movie is now 36 years old. It’s fascinating to see how many bits and pieces of daily life in America have changed in just three decades’ time.

Here are some things I’ve noticed that are different in 2023:

Brands seen in the movie that are no longer in existence:

A man waits for a cab in a crowded ew York City street with a Roy Rogers restaurant sign visible in the background
A man walks across an airport runway with a TWA jet visible in the background.
A man dressed in a suit and fedora talks on the phone

Societal norms that have changed:

  • Smoking is widely illegal in US restaurants, airport lounges, and other indoor spaces
  • Paying with cash is becoming extremely rare
  • Men rarely if ever wear hats in professional settings

Tools / Devices no longer in wide use:

  • Pay phones
  • Imprinter / swipe credit card processing machines
  • Printed, folio-style plane tickets
An old credit card 'imprinter' tool used to process credit cards
A man opens the driver's side door of a green car with wood paneling on the sides

Other things that are different:

  • The movie has a notable scene with New York City taxi cabs, in a time when Uber and other ride share companies didn’t exist.
  • There are no more vehicles with fake (or real?) wood siding – bring those back!

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