Once upon a time, flying was quite the classy affair. During its heyday in the ’50s and ’60s, the jet era embodied the most forward-thinking styles of architecture, interior design, and jetset chic. The art of the airport terminal culminated in the work of architects like Eero Saarinen, whose design for Dulles International Airport and the TWA Flight Center at Idlewild Airport (the former mantle of New York’s JFK) have become renowned as iconic mid-century modern masterpieces.
For most people, the thought of flying these days probably invokes the dread of delays, lost baggage, and full-body-scan security checks. But these brilliant images of vintage terminal interiors remind us of just how glamorous the travel experience once was. Amidst all that curvaceous poured concrete, beautifully modern decor by the likes of Alexander Calder and Alfred Hendrickx, and nostalgia for the hospitality of now-defunct airlines — such as Pan Am, TWA, and Eastern Airlines — the thought of a layover seems sort of alluring.
TWA Flight Center, Idlewild Airport, 1962 [via Architizer]
Union News Restaurant, TWA Flight Center, Idlewild Airport, 1962
Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport Lobby [via Aqua-Velvet]
Dulles International Airport [via DCist]
Idlewild Airport, 1961 [via Gray Flannel Suit]
McCarran International Airport. Photo credit: Jay Florian Mitchell
Los Angeles International Airport [via Mid-Century Modern Freak]
Pittsburgh International Airport with Calder sculpture [via Etsy]
Idlewild Airport with Calder sculpture, 1959 [via A Continuous Clean]
TWA Terminal, Idlewild Airport, 1962. Photo credit: Ezra Stroller
TWA Flight Center, Idlewild Airport, 1962 [via The Design Observer Group]
Mary McGloughlin, Idlewild Airport, New York, 1957. Photo credit: Jerry Schatzberg
Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport [via Heritage Canada]
Sabena Airlines First Class Lounge with Alfred Hendrickx S3 Chairs, Brussels, 1958 [via Mid-Centuria]