An Ocean-Themed Visual History of International Jet Set

by Owen James Burke

uahawaii

Art Contrarian.

Ah, the golden age of international jet-setting, when seat backs actually reclined and lobster tail was standard fare served atop real tables. Those of us born to late to revel in the nostalgia of having once traveled this way are probably fortunate, or far more content with cocooning up for 14 hours strapped down like Hannibal Lecter, elbow to viscera between complete and increasingly overweight strangers. Today, even a first class ticket places us unpleasantly close to the sights, sounds and scents of our fellow travelers. But hey, at least now the planes fly a little faster, and a personal TV screen invites us to watch enough Hollywood crap until our heads explode, should we require a prompter mode of egress prior to landing.

“International Jet Set” by the Specials.

So sit back on your sofa–or settee, if your abode happens to lie in an aqueous solution–and reminisce (or commiserate, as you like). Here’s a Scuttlefish visual history of international jet set. We suggest you ‘hit play’ on the video clip above as you scroll down through the images – and back into a time when air travel wasn’t like flying in a cattle car.

Back in the 20th century, air travel was surrounded with the thrill of adventure. Now it seems to be able getting off the plane as quickly as possible, finding an overly sweetened cocktail and planting oneself poolside for a week beside an all-you-can-eat continental mush–not unlike the flight itself when you think about it.

aasf

Baker Beach-goers watch sailboats pass through the Golden Gate, clothed for a change. Ro Gallery.

boac

British Overseas Airways Corporation, Hong Kong/Vietnam c. 1961. Vintage Travel Posters.

nassau

Hard to believe, Nassau’s harbors did once carry this open-air jovial atmosphere, before Disney arrived. Surface Current.

saschile

Try flying from Scandinavia to Chile now. Island Art Cards.

rio

And of course there was Pan American World Airways at the pinnacle of the jet set age. Vintage Travel Posters.

sorrento

Poster Classics.

Coolangatta-by-James-Northfield

Coolangatta, Australia, by James Northfield. Australian Vintage Posters.

seechina

CNAC Travel poster, mid 1930s. It’s a Pinteresting Life.

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KLM Dutch Royal Airlines, “The Flying Dutchman.” Great Big Canvas.

 viareggio

Viareggio: “The most beautiful beach in Italy.” Artwork by Albert Bonetti, c. 1932. Vintage Travel Posters.

portugal

TWA may no longer be with us, but Portugal’s still around. Arts-Wallpapers.

nwalaska

Northwest Airlines. Gray Flannel Suit.

nassau

Capital Airlines. Nassau, The Bahamas. Gray Flannel Suit.

westafrica

West Africa. Vintage Posters Africa.

florida

Gray Flannel Suit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gray Flannel Suit.

 thai

Vintage Travel Posters.

carib

Vintagraph.

hongkong

Vintage Travel Posters.

enzed

Gallerie 123.

chinaclipper

PAA flights between San Francisco and Manila, the length of the Pacific. Transpress NZ.

eastafrica

Vintage Tanzania.

socal

Gray Flannel Suit.

Well, if we haven’t brought you down enough yet, just remember the cabins, lounges and attire of the golden days of flight. I’ll spare you any imagery of food. That would be cruel. –OJB

CONTINENTALDC10POLYNESIANPUB-vi

“The Polynesian Pub” on Continental’s DC-10. flyer talk.

continental

Braniff, c. 1970s. Oh the colors. flyer talk.

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TWA’s 707 lounge. Yow. flyertalk.

flyertalkamair

American Airlines’ 747 COACH lounge. You won’t find this anywhere on any plane today. flyertalk.

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