Take a walk down memory lane with ten vintage airline commercials

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

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!

Ten of the sexiest commercials in airline history

Last year, we compiled a list of vintage airline commercials, and since the Internet is full of some of the greatest commercials commissioned by airlines, we picked “sexiest airline commercials” as the topic of this top ten lineup.

The list has some vintage clips (Southwest Airlines hotpants) and some pretty recent stuff. So, sit back and enjoy these ten sexiest airline commercials.

Virgin Atlantic 25th anniversary video

This commercial is brilliant – it takes all the best (and the worst) of 1984 to celebrate 25 years of Virgin Atlantic

Air New Zealand “Nothing To Hide”

Bodypainted cabin crew members, and a cameo appearance by the CEO of the airline.

Southwest Airlines

Remember before Southwest Airlines? We didn’t have hostesses in hotpants. And now we still don’t, but at least they don’t charge for checking a bag. Though if I’m honest, I’d probably prefer the hotpants.

Airport metal detector prank

Alright, so it isn’t for an airline, and it isn’t even for a product remotely related to flying, but it has long been one of the most popular commercials involving an airport.


Seriously? Using a lesbian mile high romp to advertise your airline? Sadly, the airline only lasted two years before they realized that their all business class service couldn’t survive in the new economy.

Fake airline, funny commercial

This commercial for “Lynx Airlines” was made in 2008.Obviously it isn’t for a real airline, but it does mimic the services Ryanair said they’d offer in Business Class should they ever start flying transatlantic.

National Airlines “Go Go vacations”

They really don’t make them like this any more – because if they did, someone would probably sue.

If you wanted to sleep with him, you would have married him

Not every sexy airline commercial involves a stewardess in hotpants.

“I just love a man in a JetBlue uniform”

These girls love pilots – but only JetBlue pilots. Talk about being picky.

Nothing says awkward like exposing yourself to your inlaws.

(Warning, may not be suitable for work). This is one of those commercials that was clearly devised before the ad agency had a taker, because nothing in the clip is even remotely aviation related. That doesn’t prevent it from being hilarious.

If you liked the videos, you might be interested in …




Weird Travel: Odd Wisconsin exhibit’s odd items

Wisconsin has enough odd history that the “Odd Wisconsin” exhibit at the Wisconsin Historical Museum in Madison has swapped in 40% of what is on display. The result is a fresh look at Wisconsin’s oddball undertakings.

What makes many of the objects odd are not the objects themselves, but the stories behind them. Many–from the serious to the nostalgic, illuminate aspects of American history that have a Wisconsin connection.

One of the items in particular has me humming a tune that’s probably going to be with me for the rest of the day.

Do you remember a certain hot dog commercial with a certain song? The instrument that played the tune offers a trip down memory lane for anyone whose childhood goes back that far.

Although Aaron’s the Tuesday Trivia aficionado, here are two more pieces of trivia to add to this week’s questions. What instrument is on display and what’s the song? You don’t have to wait until next Tuesday to find out the answers to these two. They are after the jump.

And here’s a bonus: What’s in the jar?

The instrument: banjo-ukulele.

The song: Oh I Wish I Were an Oscar Mayer Wiener.”

The song title is written on the instrument. Banjo-ukulele’s were made in the 1920s and 1930s in response to the popularity of Hawaiian music at the time.

The museum’s Web pages that highlight the Odd Wisconsin exhibit describes some of the items on display. They include:

  • Wonder Spot “Book” Sign. The Wonder Spot was a cabin built on the side of a hill that was angled in such a way to give tourists to Wisconsin Dells a discombobulated feeling. The cabin was taken down in 2006 to make room for Highway 12.
  • Glass Teddy Roosevelt drank out of after he was shot while delivering a speech.
  • Giant Punt Gun. Used in the 19th century to hunt ducks, this gun weighs 26 pounds.
  • Skunk Grease Medicine. Made in 1920 as a home remedy for pleurisy. (That’s what’s in the jar.) The description of this concoction centers on the self-reliance of Wisconsin’s farmers.

In case you missed out on the Oscar Meyer Wiener commericals, here’s one of the classics.