Vintage travel ads show artistry and wanderlust combined

Head back to the days when travel ads were works of art and the feeling of wanderlust can take over. There’s something about a harbor scene rendered in watercolors that evoke the feeling of romance and adventure. That was my first thought when I browsed through the “Destinations” section of the blog Creative Cloud’s bounty of vintage travel print ads.

The post includes 45 ads in all that have been divided into categories ranging from ads for airlines to ads for travel accessories. The ads also highlight how attitudes about travel have changed, as well as, the changes in what certain products once promised. One ad for Coppertone suntan lotion found under Travel Essentials, for example, touts that using the product can give you “younger skin tomorrow.” Haaa! It’s been awhile since that’s been part of public thinking.

The ads for airlines pay tribute to some that no longer exist like
TWA and Pan Am.

Whether you’re after a trip down memory lane or want to look at the artistry of when advertising once paid for artists to conceptualize an ad’s message, take time to browse. You may find yourself hunting down a vintage leather, hard-shell suitcase and a cream-colored linen suit for your next trip.

Thanks Gadling reader Andy for sending this visual treasure trove our way.

Galley Gossip: Passenger of the month – Christopher Elliott

Name? Christopher Elliott

Where do you live? Orlando, Florida

Occupation? I’m a travel journalist.


City you spend the most time in? Orlando

Okay, that makes sense. Bad question. So where do you travel to the most often? New York

I love New York. Everyone should visit New York at least once in their lifetime, especially during Christmas. Miles flown this year? Just over 5,000.

Do you remember your very first flight? It was a Pan Am flight from New York to Munich in 1972 or 1973. I was probably four years old at the time, but I still remember the plane. It was huge — a Boeing 747, I think. The flight attendants were very kind to us. I remember my baby brother being in some kind of hammock. I looked out the window almost the entire time. Wow, we were actually flying! You know how airline people say they have jet fuel in their veins. Well, after that flight, I did.

It’s true, once you work for an airline it’s almost impossible to stop. Type / brand of luggage you own and travel with? I’m using a Travelpro Platinum 6 at the moment.

Check it or Carry on? Carry it. Always carry it.

I take it you pack light. Window or Aisle? I still like to look out the window.

Favorite seat? Anything in the emergency exit row — except the middle seat.

Something to Drink? Soda water with lime, please. I know — booooooring! — but I’ve I’ve learned some hard lessons about drinking on planes. Let’s just leave it at that.

Good to know, I’ll save you a few limes. Beef or Chicken? Chicken.

What snacks do you pack? Gummi bears.

Gummi bears? Really? What exactly is in your carry on bag? My laptop, an extra pair of khakis, shirt, pajamas and something to read.

You DO pack light. My kind of man. Any packing tips/tricks? Roll, don’t fold.

That’s what I do. Describe your traveling outfitLoose fitting pants, button-down shirt, blue blazer, sunglasses.

Best shoes to wear through airport security? Anything you can get into and out of easily. I have a pair of Clarks that slip right off. For trips to the mountains, I wear a pair of New Balance hiking shoes that are surprisingly easy to take off.

Any airport routines? A triple grande nonfat latte before boarding.

Was that you behind me in line at Starbucks? I always make it a point to get a tall latte before every flight. Best airline/experience? Any time I’ve been upgraded to first class. Which never happens anymore.

Ahhh…but is that because you’re flying Southwest? Most memorable experience onboard a flight? I was flying from Frankfurt to New York in the 80s. We were over Greenland or Canada, and encountered this sudden, violent turbulence. I looked out at the wing and saw it bending — you know, like a wave — and people were screaming. Some were crying. The plane dropped quickly, in an apparent effort to get away from the rough air. Everyone thought this was the end. I literally was saying my last prayers. I wasn’t sure if we could survive a crash, and if we did, I knew we’d quickly die of exposure to the elements. And just as quickly as it had begun, it stopped. It was way scarier than the aborted takeoff in Houston a few years later.

Nicest Airport – Orlando.

Favorite Airport restaurant? There’s a little taco place — not sure what it’s called — near the Southwest gates at LAX. Best darned Mexican food ever.

Next time you’re in Los Angeles I’ll take you to the best darned Mexican food place ever! Burrito is my middle name and chips and salsa is my favorite food. Hotel away from home? I had a great experience at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa recently. I could probably move in.

Most luxurious hotel you’ve ever experienced? The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas. I stayed in the JR suite a few years ago. Wow!

I grew up in Dallas, so I know that hotel – talk about NICE! Favorite in-flight announcement? Anything on Southwest Airlines.

Passengers do seem to love their humor. Book / magazine last read on a flight? The Geography of Bliss” by Eric Weiner

Favorite travel book(s)? I like to re-read Ann Tyler’s “The Accidental Tourist” every now and then. It’s a good reality check.

I’ve never read that one. Perhaps I’ll pick it up for my flight home. So…where did you go on your last vacation? My last vacation — well, it was a weekend trip, really — was to Canaveral National Seashore with my family. It’s my new favorite beach on Florida’s East Coast. Beautiful sand dunes, unspoiled coastline, and you’re a stone’s throw from the launch pads at Kennedy Space Center.

Oh I’m going to check that out! Sounds beautiful. Tell me about your favorite destination? Vienna, Austria. It’s where I grew up.

Now finish the following sentences…

I can’t fly without my… Bose noise-canceling headset.

On my last flightI slept almost the entire time. What a beautiful thing.

If I could be anywhere in the world, I’d …On a diveboat in Key Largo, Fla., right over Molasses Reef on a flat-calm day with 100 feet of viz.

When it comes to traveling, I wishI didn’t have to do as much of it as I do.

Why do passengers…lean their seats into my knees?

Why do flight attendantstell me that “I’m going to need to” do something instead of just asking me to do it.

Why do pilots…always seem to wait until I’m asleep to make their in-flight announcement?

Next flight? I’m grounded for the next few weeks.

Okay, now ask me a question, any question! What is the meaning of life?

Hey now, you were supposed to ask me something about flying! Not go all serious on me. That’s okay, because I do know the meaning of life – for me. Life is the journey, not the destination. Thank you so much for your time, Christopher. Enjoy your travels and fly safe

Galley Gossip: Where did the service go?

Recently I read an interesting article in the New York Times, Up, Up, and Go Away, about an ex flight attendant who worked for TWA in the 1970’s when flight attendants were known as stewardesses and stewardesses were as glamorous as movie stars and passengers were treated like royalty and flying was..well…just better – in every way possible! The stewardess featured in the article above wrote about a recent flight she took from Miami to Charlotte and the lack of customer service onboard the airplane, on the ground, as well as the downfall of flying in general.

She wrote…

I have experienced the decline of service along with the rest of the flying public. But I believe I have felt it more acutely because I remember the days when to fly was to soar. The airlines, and their employees, took pride in how their passengers were treated. A friend who flew for Pan Am and I have a friendly rivalry over which airline was better. Friendly, yes. But we each believe we worked for the best.

Well that’s funny because I think I work for the best airline, and that’s an airline that’s still in business. And for the record, I, too, take pride in my job, as well as the way I treat my passengers, and this is during a time when passengers bash airlines for sport. Hey, times have changed. Flight attendants have changed. Passengers have changed. Technology has changed. Every single thing has changed. Has it not?

She wrote…

Airlines offer valid excuses for cutting back service. But what are they gaining when passengers leave a flight disgruntled, mistreated and hungry? It is surprising how easy it is to please passengers. Cereal and lots of coffee in the morning can do wonders for someone who had to leave home at 4 a.m. Pretzels and peanuts handed out with drinks make a difference in an era of flight cancellations and long security lines.

Much like most memories, one tends to romanticize the past. I, too, worked when flight attendants handed out wings, playing cards and magazines, back when we had all the pillows and blankets a passenger could desire. I also served cereal as well as pretzels and three dinner choices – in coach – and trust me when I tell you just as many passengers complained about the service then as they do now.

“This is nothing but garbage!” one passenger shouted at me when I placed the penne pasta on the tray table in front of her. This happened in coach over ten years ago.

“Is this all you have?” is another response I heard often back in the day.

I also remember that airfares were three times what they are today, which enabled an airline to offer you three choices of garbage…I mean food…as well as amenities in coach. Sure ticket prices have gone up, but by comparison they’re cheaper than they were ten years ago. In 1995 I bought a ticket from New York to Dallas for $800. Last month I bought the same ticket for $350 – and that was for a flight during the holiday rush, which is the second busiest time of the year to travel!

She wrote…

What works best of all, of course, is a smile. I trained for six weeks to become a flight attendant. Although the main focus was safety, I spent almost as much time learning good service. Airline employees’ frustration and exasperation are all too evident to their passengers.

Yet as I stand at the door and greet my passengers with a smile on my face and a friendly “Hello, how are you?” half the time my greeting is either met with a sour face and goes unanswered or I’m told exactly how they are, which is never good. After four of five snide remarks I eventually stop asking how people are, I’m too afraid! Keep in mind, it’s not easy for me, either, but I still try to smile, even though I’ve been working just under the FAA legal limit. My layover is not the same layover experienced thirty years ago by stewardesses in the past who had 48 hours of free time before having to work one trip home. Based on my schedule of the last six years, I average 8 hours between the time I say “Buh-bye” and the time I say “Welcome aboard” and push back from the gate again.

She wrote…

Once, stuck on a tarmac in Newark for four hours, a planeload of passengers got McDonald’s hamburgers and fries courtesy of the airline.

Not only do passengers have to bring their own McDonald’s food onboard these days, I have to make sure that the passenger who keeps getting up and down and going into the lav with a cell phone in one hand and a crumpled McDonald’s bag in the other isn’t up to any funny business. While I, too, trained for seven weeks to become a flight attendant, learning good customer service skills, I was also sent back to training in 2001 to learn what to do in case of a terrorist hijacking. That’s why I might not be smiling as I serve drinks down the aisle in coach. I’ve got my eye on that passenger whose been acting a little strangely. A stewardess never had to carry hand cuffs, etc, in their tote bags, but a flight attendant does.

The decline in service is a direct result of ticket prices today, which is why our flights are always full, staffed with minimum crew, and why people who couldn’t afford to fly thirty years ago are flying today? And that, I think, is a good thing, in a way. The airlines are giving passengers what they truly want – affordable prices. Not embossed napkins. People are no longer willing to pay for service, and the airlines can’t afford to give it away for free, not anymore, not in this day and age. Which is why all you get on a flight is a cramped seat, a can of soda, and a paper napkin – in coach – while getting from point A to point B as safely as possible and for as cheaply as possible. If better service is desired, you have the option to pay for it by purchasing a ticket in one of the premium cabins. It’s up to you.

When I first started flying fourteen years ago, passengers in the premium cabins enjoyed the fine dining experience we provided, which is still pretty much the same service we provide in 2008. Only now, unlike then, the seats in first class and business class are always full. There are more top tiered frequent fliers battling it out for those oh so precious upgrades than ever before. A premium class passenger spends about $6,000 to fly from coast to coast, which in todays weak economy is hard for an executive to justify in an expense report to management, which explains why luxury airlines like EOS and MaxJet went out of business in less than one year.

And with all the electronic devices brought onboard today, passengers in our premium cabins don’t really want the long drawn out service of yesterday, no matter what they say, because when they want to eat, they want it now, and they want it fast, and when they’re done, they’re done!

“Take it away!” I often hear, and before the meal tray is even lifted from the table the computer is out and the fingers are typing.

What bothers me the most about these types of articles, and there are many, is the way in which people still want to compare flying back then to now. Can you really compare the two? No other industry in the United States is criticized as harshly, with such backwards thinking, as the aviation industry. When you talk about those glorious days when all the stewardesses were young and beautiful and wore hot pants and mini skirts and smiled as they lit your cigarette in the piano lounge onboard the 747 to Paris, keep in mind that flight attendants weren’t allowed to get married or have children and were subjected to periodical weigh-ins before their trips. Sounds good you say? Well don’t forget that with all the glamour came a lot of empty seats. Back then only the privileged could fly. So just remember that the next time you purchase a ticket and want to reminisce about the good old days.

Photos courtesy of (vintage black and white) Carbonated, (Passengers) Heather Poole, (Computer) Heather Poole

Is Pan Am finally dead?

A once great name will no longer be flying the skies. The airline that bought the Pan Am logo and operated under it for the past ten years has been found unfit to fly by the DOT according to The Boston Globe.

The original Pan Am went out of business in 1991 but the name was sold and flown by a new carrier a few years later. The latest venture in the Pan Am name has operated since 1998 out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

If you want to look up how NOT to run an airline, just read the scathing Air Line Pilots Association report that pleaded with the DOT to shut the airline down:

“[Pan Am] repeatedly discharged pilots because they were unwilling to fly in violation of FAA safety rules, repeatedly refused to comply with final and binding decisions of system boards of adjustment as required under the RLA and willfully violated environmental laws.”

The DOT apparently agreed, and said in a report last month that “we find that [Pan Am’s] authority to operate large aircraft was based on false financial information submitted to the department, without which the air carrier would not have been found fit to hold such authority when if first sought to expand,” the DOT order states. “We find further that [their] management knew, or should have known, about the false financial information and it, therefore … lacks the competence necessary to oversee the air transportation authorized in the air carrier’s certificate.”

As an example of Pan Am’s arrogance with regard to FAA law, in 2001 they fired Captain Don Simonds for refusing to continue a trip that would take him well past the FAA mandated maximum 16 hour duty day. The Airline Pilots Association was able to get Captain Simonds job back, but unions were eliminated at the company in 2004 when the carrier shut down and immediately reopened using a different operating certificate.

It’s too bad such a great name had to be tarnished by such incompetent management.