Vintage Photos of 1960s Air Travel

  • Airport passenger entry
Airport passenger entry
Harvey Meston/ Archive Photos via Getty Images

The 1960s marked an exciting new era in air travel. The inclusion of jet engines on commercial planes led to the emergence of larger, faster vessels such as the Boeing 707, and made flying a more affordable and accessible way to travel. It was also a luxury experience: The golden age of air travel cultivated an in-flight atmosphere akin to a cocktail party as guests dined, drank, and smoked en route to their destination.

These glamorous flights were a far cry from the buslike airplanes of the 21st century. Aircraft interiors in the 1960s were more roomy and colorful, and boasted a cultivated aesthetic that applied to everything from flight attendants’ uniforms to dining utensils. Between 1958 and 1972, almost half of all Americans had taken to the friendly skies. Here’s a glimpse of what they would have experienced.

Photo credit: HUM Images/ Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Airports Were Bright, Spacious, and a Testament to Midcentury Design

In the middle of the 20th century, airport guests were treated to state-of-the-art architecture. Features such as floating staircases, designer seats, and minimalist accents made terminals warm and comfortable; bars and lounges were bright and capacious. Today, some travelers can still live like it’s the 1960s: In 2019, JFK Airport in New York City opened the TWA Hotel, an homage to the airport’s original TWA terminal. The refurbished terminal was updated to accommodate overnight guests and diners; the retro space incorporates design elements from the terminal’s original rooms and lounges.

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