Taking a page out of the “they don’t make them like this any longer” book, I’ve compiled a list of 10 fantastic vintage airlines commercials.
Take a walk down memory lane with me, and see how flying looked back in the 70’s, or listen to people tell you how awesome their (now bankrupt) airline is.
This article originally appeared on Gadling last year, but as part of our closer look at vintage America, the video clips have been updated and refreshed.
Wien Air Alaska – “When it comes to experience, Alaska’s first airline has the last word“ (1981)
Yes, that is a video of Captain Wien, father of our very own Kent Wien! The video took 35 takes to get right, because pilots are apparently better at flying a plane than acting on command. And here is a bit of trivia for you; Wien Air Alaska was the second airline in the country, and at one point they flew to more places in the world than any other airline (excluding Aeroflot). Sadly, Wien Air Alaska ceased operations back in 1984. I just hope they found a good home for the Canada Goose!
Eastern Airlines – “we earn our wings every day” (1984)
Eastern Airlines is another airline that is no longer around. They closed up in 1991 leaving 18,000 people without a job or pension. This video clip taken in 1984 and shows a bunch of very happy employee/owners, completely unaware that just 7 years later their investment would be worthless.
Republic Airlines – “Nobody serves our republic like republic” (1982)
Catchy music? Check! Smiling flight attendants? Check! Catchy slogan? Check!
This 1982 commercial has everything that made 80’s commercials the hilarious relics they are today. Republic Airlines was born in 1979 out of a merger of 2 other airlines, and in 1986 Northwest Orient Airlines and Republic Airlines merged to form Northwest Airlines, which is still operating strong today. The old Republic Airlines hubs (Detroit, Minneapolis-Saint Paul and Memphis) are still the main hubs for Northwest today.
Northwest Airlines – first airline to ban smoking on domestic flights (1980)
Remember when checking in at the airport meant picking smoking or non-smoking? This commercial from 1980 shows Northwest Airlines bragging that they are the first airline to ban smoking on domestic North American flights.
Continental Airlines – “If you can’t fly Continental you might as well not fly at all” (1977)
Ah, the 70’s… This commercial is the cheesiest of them all. The theme song is soap opera meets bad radio jingle, but it’s the kind of bad song that sticks in your head.
United Airlines – Gene Hackman flying the friendly skies (1994)
This is the youngest commercial in the list, but even at 14 years old it shows how much has changed since then. The commercial brags about the 1000 flights and 135 destinations United flies to every day. In just 14 years they have grown to 3200 flights and over 200 destinations. Of course, it also shows that 14 years later, they are still using Rhapsody in Blue for all their commercials.
United Airlines – The new DC10 jetliner featuring the Friendship Room lounge in coach! (1971)
Here is an early United Airlines commercial where they get to show off their new DC10 jetliner. Featuring specially designed spacious seats, and a luxurious lounge in coach! This 1970’s plane shows just how miserable flying as become nowadays.
Braniff International – The end of the plain plane (1965)
A funny commercial from a time when it was still considered acceptable to brag about your attractive flight attendants. This clip tries to convince people that Braniff has the most colorful planes and “that they won’t get you there any faster, but it sure will seem that way!”
American Airlines – Doing what we do best (1982)
Warm meals in coach, full service no matter what you pay and a skycap who opens your cab door to help you out. It’s how flying used to be, just 26 years ago. This vintage AA commercial is another from the feel good era.
TWA – Steak in coach! It’s the new widebody L-1011, it’s built for comfort! (1977)
The last Lockheed L-1011 rolled off the assembly line in 1984, after just 250 of them were built. They can still be found today, but none are in operation with any major US carrier. This TWA commercial shows the spacious wide body cabin, the fantastic steak dinner in coach and the captain explains that their Rolls-Royce engines mean you’ll get a smooth ride!