Airlines Through the Years Showcased in New Photo Book

southwest plane paint

To those who are acquainted with flying a few decades ago, most of you would agree that taking a plane ride would almost be akin to riding a cruise liner. Creature comforts and luxury amenities were much more abundantly showered on passengers, and the flying glamour girls called stewardesses were eye candy to look at. Luckily, writer and graphic designer Keith Lovegrove of London’s Lovegrove Design released a book that is a pictorial history of the style and fashion, lush interior and lavish food of airlines from different countries spanning a few decades. Airline: Style at 30,000 feet is a 139-page treasure trove of archival images showing stewardesses dressed in their alluring uniforms, as well as a documentation of the variety in airline food.

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airlines book

The book also goes from one country to another via the airplane designs that helped mold the personality of each airline. It chronicles how the airline industry defined itself from the stylish 1920s to today’s informal jeans and flip-flops culture.

hugh hefner
Hugh Hefner in 1970 with “Big Bunny,” his private DC-9 plane.

Lovegrove relates,

“The inspiration for the book stemmed from my interest in graphic design and design in general, and also from my days as a boy. My father worked for the airlines and dragged our family around the planet in the early ’60s, which was a really glamorous time to fly. Everyone used to dress up to get on an airplane. I wanted to find out where that glamorous time went. As I started to research it, I found all these wonderful pictures.”

Betty Lou Ruble pan am
Betty Lou Ruble of Pan American Airlines, The Stewardess Who Has Travelled the Longest Distance in a Week Serving Drinks prize

pan am stewardess

Lovegrove also lent his voice to a video to accompany the book, giving a preview of its incredible collection of photographs. “Now, airlines have harked back a bit to the vintage era. Though Virgin got Vivienne Westwood to design their uniforms, it still has a bit of a ’40s feel. I think it’s because it’s safe–the artistic designers aren’t running design anymore. Marketeers are running design. We get marketeers creating briefs, and from that, it’s watered down to what is the best for the airline, which makes sense, but at the same time, everything’s looking a little bit samey-samey, “says Lovegrove.

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inside of book inside of book airlines

Here’s the video teaser made by Lovegrove and Andrew Lennox:

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Patricia Ramos

Patricia Ramos

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.