Vintage Photos

Vintage Photos of Airplane Travel and Celebrities

In honor of Thanksgiving, we look back at the golden age of airline travel and the celebrities who flew.

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

When Airplanes Had Legroom

Once upon a time, flying was fun, comfortable, and glamorous. This was before travelers suffered invasive pat-downs, folded their bodies into yoga positions to get comfortable, and paid for everything from in-flight beverages to carry-on bags. Just in time for the hellish experience that is Thanksgiving travel, we’ve put together a gallery of photographs that will make you long for the earlier days of flying.

Travelers didn’t know how good they had it in the 1960s. Passengers aboard a Braniff International flight circa 1967 enjoy their personal space while drinking coffee and reading magazines in a lounge.

Bettmann / Corbis

Make Yourself at Home

Passengers got cozy aboard the short-lived Boeing Stratocruiser. Complete with spacious, bunk-bed-style cabins and a VIP lounge and bar, this double-decker plane made long, intercontinental trips a breeze.

Bettmann / Corbis

The Glamorous Crew

Flanked by two stewardesses, Captain L. L. Treece makes his way to the crew lounge after a quick flight from Chicago to Washington, D.C.

Bettmann / Corbis

Behind the Scenes

A stewardess offers a female passenger a sneak peek at the men—and gears—controlling the flight.

Bettmann / Corbis

The Picture of Comfort

Here is a mockup from 1956 of the first jet-transport interior to be created in the United States. Stewardesses pose inside the 98-seat Boeing Jet Stratoliner, complete with air-conditioning, running water, ovens, refrigerators, reading lights, and emergency exits.

Bettmann / Corbis

At Ease

A comfortable passenger smiles at a helpful flight attendant on a flight circa 1945–1955.

Underwood & Underwood / Corbis

Flight Fashion

Flight attendants model uniforms from 1930 to 1955.

Corbis / Bettmann

In-Flight Meals

Air France passengers are treated to a delectable spread and smiling service.

Pictorial Parade, Archive Photos / Getty Images

Private Party

A couple enjoys both privacy and attentive service in an airplane’s private suite in the 1940s.

Gaston Paris / Getty Images


A stewardess gives a pilot a hand as they disembark in France.

Bettmann / Corbis

Don’t Get Up

Children enjoy the chairs that fold out into beds aboard a transatlantic flight in 1948—during which they are served breakfast in bed.

Bettmann / Corbis

Balancing Act

Western Airlines stewardesses practice serving meals to each other aboard a mockup plane at the airline’s Los Angeles Training Center. Stewardesses were taught to graciously navigate tight quarters of the plane carrying trays of food, but to not waste time doing so.

Bettmann / Corbis

First Class

Marilyn Monroe mugs for the paparazzi at New York’s Idlewild Airport (now JFK) as she boards an American Airlines flight headed for Hollywood in 1956.

Bettmann / Corbis


Pat Boone and family bid farewell to New York as they board a flight for their new home: Hollywood.

Hulton-Deutsch Collection / Corbis

Across the Pond

Frank Sinatra looks pleased after landing at a London airport in 1956.

Bettmann / Corbis

Romantic Travel

Rock Hudson carries Ann Blyth as they get off a plane in New York City in 1952.

Bettmann / Corbis

On the Road

In 1950, a railroad strike required professional baseball teams to fly in order to keep up with their schedule. Here, Yankees Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto are seen playing cribbage as they wait for their TWA flight to take off.

Bettmann / Corbis

Celebrity Sightings

Hugh Hefner showed off Cynthia Maddox—both on his arm and on the cover of his Playboy magazine—while on a flight from Chicago to New York to attend a party given by Ella Fitzgerald.

Bettmann / Corbis

Baby’s First Transatlantic Flight

Audrey Hepburn and son Sean, 7 months, head for Rome on their way to join the actress’s then-husband, Mel Ferrer, in Yugoslavia.

PoodlesRock / Corbis

Bon Voyage

A 1950s advertisement shows a man kissing his wife and child goodbye as he boards a commercial jet for a business trip.