air travel back in the 1960s


If the Mad Men era is famous for anything other than grotesque displays of male chauvinism, it might be the incredible level of service in its airplanes.

Whereas air travelers today generally loathe every minute between waking up at 4 AM to rush to a crowded airport, to flying in a cramped plastic chair in an overcrowded pressurized room, and finally coming out the terminal doors on the other side, travelers back then seemed to equate the experience to a day at Disneyland. Of course, this could just be a product of the advertising agencies, but look at the photos of airport terminals, interior designs, and gourmet airplane food from the period and tell me you do not wish that some elements of 1960s air travel had lasted.

First, let’s admire the elegantly designed airport terminals of yore before they became a maze of duty-free shops and security checkpoints.

TWA Flight Center at JFK, New York City

TWA Terminal NYC

Photo: James

PanAm Terminal 3 at JFK, New York City

1960s PanAm terminal 3

Photo: MidCentArc

Moisant International Airport, New-Orleans

Sure, dealing with harassment probably defined every day at work, but at least flight attendants had outfits if they ever found themselves at a Halloween party in space.

Yes, the DC-6 Mainliner had seats facing each other.

Now we have to bring up the food, which could include a rack of lamb…

1960s Airplane food 1

Photo: James Vaughan

Or an entire cart of cured meats and five glasses of complimentary beer at a time.

If you are feeling like you wouldn’t mind stepping back in time, let these racist and sexist advertisements from the era remind you that at least some things have changed for the better (sortof).

 1960s Air travel advertisement images

Photo: Classic Film

1960s airline travel ad

Photo: Glen.H