I love to travel and remember when airline travel was a special occasion. I thought curating a collection of vintage airline posters and prints would be fun.
Thousands of airline companies have disappeared over the years. Over 40 have gone bust alone since the pandemic’s start, with many more to come. I remember flying with several airlines that are no longer with us. Such as BOAC, Monarch, British Caledonia, Laker Air, and Pan Am, to name a few.
I’ve always been fascinated with air travel. I was born and bought up in Hong Kong; we would fly to the UK every couple of years to visit relatives. In those days, airline travel was more of an occasion. My mum used to dress us up to fly so we’d look smart.
The journey to London from Hong Kong used to take over 24 hours. The plane would stop 3 to 4 times to refuel. Every time the plane stopped, we would get off and wander around the transit airport to stretch our legs before returning to our flight.
The last time I flew that route was non-stop and only took half the time. I hope it won’t be too long before I can get on a plane again, to go and visit my relatives and friends worldwide.
Vintage Airline Posters
I’m a sucker for nostalgia. Combined with my romantic memories of air travel as a child, it has led me to dig up this collection of vintage airline posters and prints.
Some of the posters are travel adverts for the destinations the airlines flew to; others are route maps. As a child, the first thing I used to do when I sat in my airline seat would be to grab the airline magazine from the seat pocket in front of me. I would then study the route map at the back of the magazine. This is probably where my love of vintage maps began.
If like me, you look at air travel in the past through rose-tinted glasses, I thoroughly recommend watching the TV series Pan Am.
How To Download the Prints & Posters
With your mouse, click on the title above the airline poster you want to download. A higher-resolution image of that poster will open as a new window on your device. If you click on that illustration, you can save it to your device.
A vintage airline poster of Pan American Airlines (Pan Am) showing the routes of the flying clipper ships across Central and South America.
Pan Am, was the main and largest international airline and unofficial overseas flag carrier of the United States from 1927 until the airline’s collapse on December 4, 1991.
Pan Am started its South American routes with flying boat planes nicknamed Clipper Ships between 1931 and 1946. The clipper service operated across Latin America from the International Pan American Airport in Miami, Florida.
A 1955 travel poster advertising a destination on the Pan Am clipper route above.
A beautifully illustrated map of Asia which featured on the cover of a menu on Pan Am. The pictorial map is by the French illustrator Jacques Liozu.
This wonderful tourist map contains drawings of people and products of each country, representing regions, resources, sights, important buildings, people, activities, crops, etc.
A 1947 pictorial map of Pan American World Airways world routes, showing countries and major cities. The legend includes the Pan American world airway system: US flag carriers, US flag carriers proposed services and affiliates.
There are many antique world maps here.
Trans World Airlines (TWA) was a prominent American airline from 1930 until 2001. TWA was the second unofficial flag carrier of the United States after Pan Am and was owned for a while after the war until the ’60s by Howard Hughes.
The vintage airline poster is from the 1960s and shows an abstract interpretation of Times Square in New York with a TWA jet and jetstream at the top of the image.
Transports Aériens Intercontinentaux (TAI) was a private French airline, based at Orly Airport, Paris. In 1963, it was merged to form UTA French Airlines and eventually part of the national carrier Air France in the early 1990s.
A beautiful advertising vintage airline poster map for the airline. The map was designed by the French naval officer and painter Luc-Marie Bayle.
The world map has lots of illustrations showing the means of sea and air transport used over the ages: galleys, ships, canoes, wheeled boats, hot air balloons, bi-plane, and airships. It is from the 1950s, being a French airline, most of the routes are to old French colonies in Africa and Indo-China.
United Airlines is US based and the worlds third-largest airline. It is still in operation today and is mostly just referred to as United.
United Air Lines mainliner vacation map: the mainline airway to the nation’s greatest vacationlands east and west. 1940 Pictorial map of the United States showing United airlines and connecting airlines. Includes scale bar indicating “scale of flying hours.”
1928 ABA Advertisement leaflet about The Dutch Swedish Air Route by ABA and KLM.
1934 Advertisement for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. Depicting a map of the world in global shape, it shows KLM and other airlines’ service routes. The map includes routes from Amsterdam to Batavia via Amsterdam, London, Athens, Cairo, Baghdad, Karachi, Calcutta, Rangoon, Bangkok, Medan, Singapore, and Batavia.
Batavia is the old name for the Indonesian capital Jakarta. Indonesia was a Dutch colony from the 17th Century until the end of the second world war.
This is a delightful vintage world map showing KLM routes. There a few key illustrations for each continent, from the Statue of Liberty to camels and kangaroos.
British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) was a British state-owned airline created in 1939. A 1974 BOAC and BEA merged, forming today’s British Airways.
For most of its history, its main rival was Pan Am. My first airline flight was a BOAC plane from Hong Kong to London as a child.
A BOAC airline poster advertising flights to Scotland.
Colorful BOAC, pictorial promotional map.
A BOAC World route map of the Eastern Hemisphere dated 1951.
British European Airways (BEA), formally was a British airline that existed from 1946 until 1974. IT merged with BOAC to form the national carrier British Airways—a 1951 poster by Geoffrey Salter.
1937 global spread of the routes of Imperial Airways. Imperial Airways later to become BOAC and then British Airways.
British South American Airways (BSAA) was a state-run airline in the United Kingdom from the late 1940s until 1950, which was responsible for services to the Caribbean and South America.
A 1960s Delta in New York Ad. Delta is one of the major airlines of the United States and a legacy carrier. It was founded in 1925 and is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.
Compagnie franco-roumaine de navigation aérienne (CFRNA). 1920s poster showing the airlines routes from Paris and flying times.
Union Airways of New Zealand Limited was New Zealand’s first major airline. It was founded in 1935. Its services reached main centres from Auckland to Dunedin and extended to Gisborne and the West Coast of the South Island.
There is a fun airplane board game in the vintage board game images collection.