Lonely Planet Writer

Table cloths and silver service: the golden age of travel celebrated in glorious vintage photos

Time was when boarding a flight was one of the most glamorous things to do.  Passengers were treated like royalty, and dressed to impress for a flight. Plane cabins were plush and spacious and food, oh the food. Lobster and rack of lamb were regularly served up by air hostesses, who it was agreed, had the best jobs in the world.

The golden age of travel
The golden age of travel Image by SAS Airlines

As SAS  turns 70 this year, the airline has released a series of images from the 1950s and 1960s that will make you yearn for a flight back in time.

An air hostess in a uniform designed by Christian Dior
An air hostess in a uniform designed by Christian Dior Image by SAS

Uniforms in the mid 20th century were designed by top couture houses including Carven and Dior for SAS.

Cabin interiors had plush upholstery and plenty of leg room for passengers.
Cabin interiors had plush upholstery and plenty of leg room for passengers. Image by SAS

Magazines and newspapers were provided to passengers, and you could also read a book, listen to music – or smoke when on a flight.

Breakfast service on board in the 1950s.
Breakfast service on board in the 1950s. Image by SAS

The flight in the 1950s was in many ways a holiday event in itself.

Air hostesses and stewards were trained in how to serve passengers full course meals.
Air hostesses and stewards were trained in how to serve passengers full course meals. Image by SAS

Passengers were served lavish meals for the duration of the flights, and a sommelier would be on hand to advise on wines.