Flying has never been cheaper or safer than it is today–but for the everyday domestic passenger, it’s rarely an enjoyable experience. Airlines charge for checked baggage (some even for carry-ons like Spirit), the TSA lines can be long and arduous and once you get to your seat, you’re packed in like a sardine. The realities of air travel today can make anyone wish for a more civilized era of better service, roomier cabins and plush lounges in the sky that make a trip across the country an experience to remember. Yes, there was a time like that. Take a peek as these vintage photos show what It was like to fly in style in the 1970s.
Many of us weren’t around to experience what it felt like to fly in style and stress free. Luckily, we’ve discovered vintage photos from once-mighty airlines like Pan Am, Continental Airlines and Braniff to give you a feel for what flying the friendly skies in the 1970s was all about.
Braniff Airways 747 Upper Deck Lounge 1970s
Dallas, TX based Braniff International Airways was founded in 1928 by Paul Revere Braniff and his brother, Thomas who financed the venture. This glamorous lounge was available on the company’s only 747 from Dallas to Honolulu, HI.
In the late 1970s, Braniff was one of the fastest-growing airlines in the country. But by the early 80s, deregularion of the industry had taken its toll and Braniff ceased operations in May 1982.
PSA (Now Southwest Airlines) Fly With a Smile
San Diego, CA based Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) operated from 1949-1988 and had smiles painted on the front noses of their airplanes.
The famous PSA smile on the front of one of its Lockheed L-1011 TriStars.
Continental Airlines Coach Lounge – Vintage Photos Show What It Was Like to Fly In Style In The 1970s
Believe it or not, this is a coach lounge from Continental Airlines sometime in the 1970s. Coach lounges were normally situated on the lower deck behind the first-class cabin. In 1974, the cost of an airline ticket from LA to New York was about $1,400 in inflation adjusted dollars. Now, the same ticket can be purchased for under $300.
Cigarettes & Perfume Anyone?
A Monarch Airlines flight attendant offers passengers cartons of cigarettes, perfume, and spirits from the duty-free cart.
PSA Flight Crew – Vintage Photos Show What It Was Like to Fly In Style In The 1970s
A PSA flight crew poses on the wing of a Boeing 727. PSA was known as the “World’s Friendlies Airline” as exemplified by their founder, Ken Friedkin who wore Hawaiian shirts and encourage his pilots and flight attendants and staff to joke with passengers to maintain a light, friendly mood. PSA was famous for its longtime ad slogan, “Catch our smile.”
An Air New Zealand 1970s Uniform
Luftansa Economy Class – Vintage Photos Show What It Was Like to Fly In Style In The 1970s
Here’s a Luftansa economy class cabin from the 1970s. Note the real plates and glasses on the trays as a passenger enjoys a cigarette after her meal.
Pan Am First Class
Passengers enjoy first class luxury on this Pan Am 747.
Here’s the lounge inside a PSA Lockheed L-1011 in all its 1970s earth-toned splendor.
Quantas Airlines First-Class Lounge – Vintage Photos Show What It Was Like to Fly In Style In The 1970s
Qantas Airline’s Boeing 747B Captain Cook First Class Lounge. Qantas transformed its 747-upper deck into a luxury lounge that rivaled any airline in the world.
Southwest Airlines Flight 1974
This is what a Southwest Airlines flight looked like in 1974. Bigger seats, ashtrays in the armrests and cocktail glasses in hand.
Southwest Airlines – Vintage Photos Show What It Was Like to Fly In Style In The 1970s
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines was founded in 1966 but didn’t start flying beyond the state of Texas until 1975. Today, Southwest is considered the world’s largest discount carrier.
TWA Coach Lounge
The TWA 707 coach lounge situated conveniently at the front of the coach cabin. Until it was acquired by American Airlines in 2001, Trans World Airlines (TWA) was a major American carrier, one of the “Big Four” domestic airlines that controlled a large part of the market.
Founded in 1930, TWA was acquired by Howard Hughes in 1939. After WWII, Hughes expanded the airline to routes in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
United Airlines Upper Deck Lounge
Tuxedos and tiaras weren’t required for entry, but they certainly weren’t discouraged.
Economy Class Aer Lingus Style – Vintage Photos Show What It Was Like to Fly In Style In The 1970s
The spacious Aer Lingus economy class in the 1970s.
American Airlines Luxury Liner
The American Airlines 747 “Luxury Liner” featured a piano bar. Yes, even coach passengers could stretch out, enjoy a drink, and listen to a little live music at the piano bar. These bars weren’t tucked away in first class but were just behind the coach seats.
Braniff Airways Interior – Vintage Photos Show What It Was Like to Fly In Style In The 1970s
A Braniff Airways Boeing 727 wide body interior in the early 1970s.
First Class Has It’s Perks
An American Airlines 747 first class upper deck.
Delta Airlines Flight Crew
This late 1960s Delta Airlines photo seems to promise passengers friendly service and first-class amenities.
Braniff International Flight 1972 – Vintage Photos Show What It Was Like to Fly In Style In The 1970s
Braniff International’s inaugural service from Houston, TX to Acapulco, Mexico in September 1972