#FlashbackFriday - 15 Vintage Airline Television Commercials

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There was a time when airlines regularly aired television commercials back in the day when there was no cable and only three networks -- ABC, CBS and NBC. These commercials used different methods -- from humor to glamour -- to get butts in seats. Airlines used the commercials to get potential customers to laugh, give a sense of place, entice them to explore new destinations and show off the wonder that was air travel.  Below are links to 15 of great ones, in no particular order. All images courtesy of YouTube.

  • 01 of 15

    This epic 3:22-minute video from the 1980s eerily predicted what air travel has become today for those sitting in the cheap seats. It uses humor to highlight indignities including tiny and unappetizing food, tight seats, badly automated check-ins, mishandled baggage, annoyances at airport security and an overall horrible passenger experience. The commercial showed how that experience on Alaska was different from its competitors. 

  • 02 of 15

    Southern Airways

    This Atlanta-based regional airline operated between 1949 and 1979 when it merged to become Republic Airlines. This commercial from the 1970s also highlighted the indignities of air travel. The tag line was "Nobody's second class on Souther," noting it offered nice passenger amenities across its fleet.

  • 03 of 15

    Continental Airlines

    This airline that merged with United in 2010 used this commercial to tout its "Great Proud Birds" McDonnell Douglas DC-10 flights to Hawaii. It touted its great service and nice meals, along with available discount fares.

  • 04 of 15

    This airline operated in the Hawaiin islands and the mainland between 1949 and 2008, when it ended operations.  This commercial from the 1970s highlighted the fleet of turboprops and jets the carrier used to operate 230 flights a day.

    Continue to 5 of 15 below.
  • 05 of 15

    This Newark-based carrier operated from 1981 until 1987, when it was merged into Continental Airlines. It was among the first low-cost carriers formed after the U.S. airline industry was deregulated in 1978. In this 1984 commercial, the carrier touts its bargain airfares between Chicago and New York.

  • 06 of 15

    Introduction to Jet Service: this classic 2:55-minute commercial from 1958 showcases the airline's new Boeing 707 jet service. The carrier was one of the first to introduce jet service to the masses.

  • 07 of 15

    Disney:  This is a charmer from back in the day when Eastern was the official airline of Walt Disney World.  The quality is a bit fuzzy, but it’s still a great commercial! 

  • 08 of 15

    Do you remember the classic Delta tagline "We love to fly and it shows?" Here's a 1987 commercial using that line. And check out that Lockheed L-1011 tri-jet!

    Continue to 9 of 15 below.
  • 09 of 15

    Actor of Peter Sellars of "Pink Panther" fame also starred in a series of TV commercials in the 1970s touting TWA's flights to Europe. The carrier was merged into American Airlines in 2001.

  • 10 of 15

    Enjoy this 1975 commercial that features Sorrell Brooks, the actor who portrayed Boss Hogg in the television show "The Dukes of Hazard." It's all about paying it forward.

  • 11 of 15

    The only way to fly: this 10-second gem features the iconic airline bird. 

  • 12 of 15

    McLean Stevenson, Fishing Hole: the former M*A*S*H star was tapped in the 1980s to do commercials for the carrier. 

    Continue to 13 of 15 below.
  • 13 of 15

    Our Smiles Aren’t Just Painted On: I’m from California, and I was a great fan of this originally intra-state carrier. They were known for having smiles painted on the front of the plane.  

  • 14 of 15

     This commercial, from 1972, features a flight attendant in the classic hot pants -- along with a pre-CGI surprise.

  • 15 of 15

    Babysitters: grandparents get their own surprise when they make a visit to see their twin baby grandchildren. It's not "classic" per se, but it's funny, so here it is.