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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

20 Vintage Photos of How Glamorous Flying Used to Be

Flying back then was a lot different than it is today.

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Stewardesses making friendsCourtesy Jean Hoder/Reminisce

Stewardesses making friends

American Airlines stewardess Jean Hoder enjoyed getting to know passengers in the airport during her downtime between flights. She made a special connection with these children who were particularly interested in her career. They would return to the airport almost every day to greet her when she got off the plane. Check out these rare, vintage photos of what daily life was like in the 1950s.

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Flight PathsCourtesy Jean Hoder/Reminisce

Flight paths

They were very curious about all of the different flights Jean had been on throughout her career.

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Job in the skyCourtesy Jean Hoder/Reminisce

Job in the sky

Jean’s little airport fan club loved the idea of having a job in the sky.

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Continental Airlines has transferred all ground ticketingEverett Collection/Shutterstock

Collecting tickets

Scanning devices weren’t always used when checking in to a flight. Here, a Continental Airlines employee collects passenger’s tickets and fare from those who hadn’t previously purchased tickets or had an extra baggage fee. Life is much easier now with mobile check-in and boarding passes, but bringing luggage is still a struggle. Know when it’s best to check your luggage.

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Historical CollectionEverett Collection/Shutterstock


A stewardess serves passengers on a Pan Am Boeing 707.

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Historical CollectionEverett Collection/Shutterstock

More space

Look at that aisle! Imagine not having to hit every passenger with your bags on your way to your seat. This Boeing Supersonic Airplane had a lot more room than planes do now. Planes are more crowded in the modern age, so flight attendants discourage these behaviors. 

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VARIOUSUnderwood Archives/Shutterstock

Gourmet meals

Full meals were served to passengers on this American Airlines flight in the ’50s.

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Historical CollectionEverett Collection/Shutterstock


Some planes had sleepers where passengers could lay down for the night. An American Airlines stewardess checks on a passenger.

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Boarding the planeCourtesy Jean Henwood/Reminisce

Boarding the plane

Flight attendants board the plane to get ready for takeoff. These strange behaviors can get you banned from flying. 

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Historical CollectionEverett Collection/Shutterstock

Dressed up

The interior of this plane might not look as upscale as the ones you see today, but everyone on board was dressed to the nines.

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Family TravelCourtesy Florence Archambault/Reminisce

Family travel

In 1958, Florence Archambault and her children—Jane, Tommy, Florence, and Edith—took their first flight to attend a wedding in Boston. For more old-timey transportation, check out these ads for vintage cars you’ll wish you could own today.

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Traveling in groupsCourtesy Betty Burns/Reminisce

Traveling in groups

For many members of this church group from Rochester, Minnesota, it was their first time on a plane.

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Historical Collection Everett Collection/Shutterstock

Overnight flight

Another example of a sleeper that some passengers would purchase for overnight coast-to-coast flights.

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It wasn't all ginger ale and pretzles back thenCourtesy Bette Weldy Burfield/Reminisce

It wasn’t all ginger ale and pretzels back then

Meal service was very different than just ginger ale and pretzels back when Bette Weldy Burfield was a flight attendant from 1954 to 1960. She’s carrying coffee, cream, sugar, and mints on a heavy silver tray.

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Hostess SchoolCourtesy Sharon Clinton/Reminisce

Hostess school

The 1961 graduates of the Trans World Airlines Hostess School in Kansas City pose for a class photo. Get a look at some photos of what school was like 100 years ago.

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Historical CollectionEverett Collection/Shutterstock

In-flight breakfast

A United Airlines passenger enjoys her breakfast on a sleeper airplane from Chicago to San Francisco.

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Historical CollectionEverett Collection/Shutterstock

Longer flights

In the ’30s, a flight from New York to the Pacific Coast was 17 hours.

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VacationCourtesy Ed Harbison/Reminisce


This couple won a contest for an all-expenses-paid trip to Miami. They wave to those on the ground as they board the plane. Check out some photos of vintage swimsuits we totally wish would come back in style.

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HoneymoonCourtesy Robert and Clara Strassburger/Reminisce


Newlyweds Robert and Clara Strassburger in Illinois to travel to Wisconsin. They are headed to the state’s romantic Door County.

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Window seatCourtesy Robert and Clara Strassburger/Reminisce

Window seat

Here are the Strassburgers in their seats.

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Originally Published in Reminisce