August, 1963, American Airlines, Convair 990, Chicago O'Hare to Newark.
Differences: They gave you full meals on most medium-haul flights, complete with a small pack of cigarettes. And when you flew, you dressed. Until at least the mid-1970s--and maybe later--I would never have considered getting on a plane without a coat and tie. I still often wear a sportcoat (no tie). It tends to be a practical thing to do if you need one on the trip, plus I'm convinced you're treated better in many cases when you look even a little better than the average passenger.
The 707s, 990s, DC8s and 727s were no wider than today's narrowbodies, but the pitch between rows was much greater, giving an overall feeling of roominess in coach. DC9s were narrower, much like MD80s and 717s today. Of course, there were no RJs back then, so no comparison can be made. Other popular planes I flew back then pretty regularly included the Electra II turboprop, the DC6 and DC7 piston planes and even an occasional old Super G Constellation (piston). Of course there were no "widebodies" until the 747s came along in the latter part of the 60s. Our first ride on a 747 was on Alitalia to Rome in 1970. On early trips to the Caribbean we used to hop around on Caribair, and they flew mostly Convair 580 turboprops.
I'm decidedly not a white knuckle flyer, and never have been. The only exception is when our son is the captain up front. . .then I'm scared to death. Actually that only happened once, and it was a surprise. Waiting at the gate at DCA with my early morning coffee, a familiar voice said, "Good morning, sir, I'm your pilot. May I take your bag?" He had brought the zero-dark-thirty trip in from New York, so he was well into his work day. Actually, of course, I wasn't frightened at all. . .it was a lot of fun. I'd fly to the end of the earth with that guy.
Do I sleep? Terry gets mad at me because I sometimes fall asleep before we even take off. She's never been afraid of flying either, but she sometimes has a hard time sleeping. Once, flying to Hawaii, I zonked out just after takeoff from LAX. When I awoke and looked out the window the islands were in full view. I asked "Is that where we're going?" She was a little torqued off because she hadn't slept at all.