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Historic airline photos from ‘Golden Age of Travel’

“Golden Age of Travel” – Commercial air travel has come a long way since the era marked by glamor, gourmet food and sluggish travelers.

Although complaints about small seats and expensive tickets still prevail today, a look at the history of commercial aviation suggests that today’s customer experience may not be as bad as some believe.

While seats are undeniably small, aircraft safety, speed, ticket prices and inflow entertainment have improved – a fact in keeping with pictures of commercial aircraft from the past.


Salon in a Pan Am Martin Clipper, arrived in 1936.

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When it comes to legroom, “Clippers” or flying boats, first produced in the late 1920s, were tough to rival, both then and now.

“Full idea back [flying boats] The passenger was relaxed, ”said Dan K. Bube, a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

In 1928, the founder of Pan American Airways, Juan Tripe, used the Air Mail Act of 1925 to mail – and later passengers – Central and South America. He relied on a variety of flying boats in the 1930s, including the Sikorsky S-38, Martin M-130 (which had a 16-seater dining lounge) and the Boeing 314 Clipper. Bobbing said that Boeing aircraft can fly up to 4,000 miles at a speed of 183 mph.

Passengers dined on a Pan Am Martin Clipper.

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In addition to having fuel to travel long distances, flying boats were popular, as they could land on water, thus eliminating the need for expensive runways. Later the design rapidly collapsed under pressure, pressure planes were developed.

“This is a consistent theme throughout commercial aviation history,” Bube said. “The military was constantly designing fast and large aircraft, and the commercial aviation industry followed suit.”

The interior of the only surviving Boeing 307 Stratoliner, as photographed in August 2003.

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The Boeing 307 Stratoliner was the first passenger aircraft in the world to be pressurized, meaning it could cruise at an altitude of 20,000 feet compared to inclement weather.

The aircraft, a derivative of the US Army Boeing B-17 bomber, entered commercial service in 1940. It fitted 33 passengers, who were usually affluent or business professionals at the time because of the cost of flying.

The seats on the left in the image above will cost more because they offered more legroom, he said.

Rules and regulations

In the mid-1950s a passenger smoked a Boeing 377 Stratocritzer on a Transocan air lines.

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Between 1947 and 1950, Boeing produced 56 stratocruisers, with sleeping cots, dressing rooms and capacity for 100 passengers. The strobrociser was huge and luxurious, but notorious for engine problems, Bube said.

Passengers also tolerated the smoking of other people on those flights, as they had done for 40 to 50 years. The US government banned cigar and pipe smoking in 1977. Cigarette smoking was eventually banned on all US flights in 2000, following a series of restrictions based on flight duration.

Passengers are being served in the observation area of ​​the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser.

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Seats were available roomier and sleeping berths, but the stratocruisers only cruised at speeds of 300 mph – a surprising feat at the time, but today’s passengers cry far beyond the aircraft, reaching speeds of nearly twice that.

Stratocruisers had observation areas for passengers who purchased more expensive seats. Passengers could rest in their seats in those areas or without seatbelt. Seat belts were not required until the 1970s, Bubb said.

The seats

Despite the grip of many modern travelers, airplane seats have not steadily decreased in size over the decades, as evident in this picture, in 1929.

Passengers aboard Air Union passenger aircraft, a French airline founded in 1923, merged with four other airlines a decade after creating Air France.

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“With the arrival of the coach class, airlines tried to add multiple seats, resulting in reduced seat width and pitch,” he said. “This became especially the case in the last two decades.”

Some historians believe that the “Golden Age” began in the 1930s, Bub said, but “others argue that the pressures of commercial air travel in the 1940s, faster aircraft such as the Boeing 307 Gatoliner, Boeing 377 Stratocraiser., Lockheed Planetarium and Douglas DC-6. “

“I am inclined to agree with the latter,” he said.

First class compartment of a commercial passenger aircraft in the 1950s.

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The seating area in the first class has become quite comfortable over the years. The business class also confirms a roomier ride, although it was not popularized as its own section until the 1980s.

Passengers ate in a BEA Vickers Viking aircraft, circa 1958.

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Some airplanes had seats with tables, which is a feature associated with train travel today. It was quite common at the time, Bub said, especially for affluent travelers.

Corridor location

A flight attendant serves drinks in the economy section of the Pan M747.

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Anyone who has ever tried to pass a drink cart mid-flight knows that there is not much room to pull that maneuver.

The width of the above corridor, however, is similar to that of modern-day aircraft, a measurement regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration. The car may be small, and the flight attendants most assuredly – for reasons that are no longer permitted.

“Originally, airlines had height and weight restrictions for flight attendants,” Bub said. “They cannot be longer than 5’4” and weigh more than 100 pounds.

Many airlines also require “stewardess”, a term that has fallen out of favor, for unmarried women, as it was then argued, that women were better at caring for the psychological needs of passengers.

After discrimination lawsuits that began in the 1970s, those restrictions were loosened before they were dropped altogether.

Isle Space in the first class section of the British Overseas Airways Corporation Boeing 747, circa 1970.

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Isle Space is generous in the first class segment of the Boeing 747, an aircraft that Bub refers to as the “hallmark achievement” of the manufacturer.

Bubb said the “The Queen of the Skies” jumbo jet has variants that are capable of seating 500 passengers and flying at 600 mph at an altitude of 40,000 feet.

“They were part of the jet revolution that shrinks the world through speed, space and time,” he said. “It’s amazing how engineers designed the 900,000-pound object with the engine, wings and a tail to get off the ground.”


Interior of Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet, circa 1970.

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Headroom also emerged as an important element for passenger comfort.

“Some passengers get claustrophobic on planes, so the more openness, the better” Bub said.

The Boeing 747 had a lot to offer, but “in terms of luxury, prestige and speed, it simply couldn’t compete”, with Concord, Boob said. Concorde traveled more than double the maximum speed of the Boeing 747.

The Concorde was known to be spectacular, though not huge.

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“The Concorde was an amazing supersonic transport aircraft that was just ahead of its time,” Bub said. “Being able to fly at a speed of 1,350 miles per hour and a commercial flight at a distance of 60,000 feet was a monumental feat.”

Passengers paid between $ 10,000 to $ 20,000 to fly on Concorde, an aircraft that was very fuel-inefficient, Bube said.

Although it could carry passengers from New York to London in 3.5 hours, Concordes ceased flying in 2003 due to high maintenance costs, waning demand, and a high-profile crash of Air France Flight 4590 in 2000.

Food service

In 1960, meals are served on the British Overseas Airways Corporation aircraft.

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Food and dishware during the “Golden Age of Travel” can be extraordinary, Boob said.

Tuxido-clad attendants dined through first-class cabins on open-top pushcarts. Photographs of the meal were said to be said to be made of meat pieces from the carving stations.


A United Airlines flight attendant interacts with a passenger in a simulated passenger compartment of the Douglas DC-10.

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Flight attendants and their uniforms have changed a lot through the years.

The first flight attendant was a nurse, Boob said.

“Because passengers had travel anxiety, nausea and other flight-related symptoms, the airlines hired nurses to be flight attendants to help keep passengers comfortable,” he said.

“Stewardess” of Southwest Airlines in Texas, 1968.

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Their uniforms often changed to reflect the prevailing fashion of the time, and included go-go boots in the 1960s, striped pants in the 1970s, and pastels and shoulder pads in the 1980s.

Today, the uniforms are more conservative, Bube said.

“The flight attendant’s uniform … changed from a stylish, melodic appearance to a more conservative one,” he said. “The more conservative approach prompted passengers to view and treat flight attendants with more respect.”

A KLM Air Hostess and Pilot, circa 1935.

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The pilots’ uniforms, however, have remained largely the same.

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