Have you ever taken a walk down memory lane and watched those old airline commercials that just make you think “what year was this”? If you haven’t, now you can.
These videos are a special part of aviation history. It’s like stepping into a time machine, especially when we see the first commercials advertising flights on the twin-engine Curtiss Condor airplanes. Fast forward to the DC-10’s that once had a lounge in coach (yes, coach!), and some more recognizable ones that promise to get you to Mars by tomorrow (ok, maybe not Mars yet, but maybe soon?).
The ones that make us laugh are the ones that we favor, so we’ve put together our top 4. These old airline commercials are amusing not only because they are made to make us giggle, but also because they remind us of hip hairstyles and old customs we no longer see. Nonetheless, old airline commercials all offer an enjoyable recollection of a different era some of us may miss.
Fly American! (1933)
For the lucky few who could afford to fly during the Great Depression, passengers were promised “a living room on wings” where “all seats [were] first class seats, and all passengers [were] first class passengers”. That must have been nice. It must have also been nice for the flight attendant to personally adjust your seat. (You definitely don’t get that in economy class anymore). Passengers aboard these twin-engine Curtiss Condor airplanes could travel “2000 miles” (according to the commercial) and arrive “as fresh as when you start”, and “not on time, but ahead of time”. Hard to believe if either was 100% accurate, but at least we could dream.
Have some time to kill? Check out this American Airways commercial (although quite a long one), and transport yourself back to 1933.
National Airlines (the 1960’s)
Did you want to have a go-go vacation? Then National Airlines was just what you needed! National Airlines was one of the first to offer domestic flights in 1958. The airline ceased operations in 1980 when it was acquired by Pan American Airlines (Pan Am). While they were in operation, they knew how to hype up their customers through their commercials.
After watching this old airline commercial, we can only guess it’s target audience was 20-something, Go-Go dancers who were looking for cheap flights to warmer places. Very convincing if you’re looking for a place to go for spring break!
Trans World Airlines (the 1970s)
Now this one from Trans World Airlines (TWA) is one for the books. TWA was a major American airline from 1925 until 2001. Before it was acquired by American Airlines in 2001, it operated routes from New York City to Los Angeles through St. Louis and Kansas City. It was one of the “big four” (American, United, Eastern and TWA) domestic airlines in the United States through the mid-20th century.
In their commercial, we see a French man compare everything offered on the airline, “Just like-en Europe”. Everything is better in Europe, right? That was how products were marketed and sold to many Americans. TWA had the same idea. Wine? Food? In-flight entertainment? “Just like-en Europe”. Just make sure he didn’t sit next to your wife or girlfriend ;).
1time Airline (the 2000s)
1time Airlines was a low-cost South African airline that operated between 2004 and 2012 and flew domestically as well as regionally. Although the airline is no longer operating, we can always look back at this commercial and be surprised by the ending, every time.