Once upon a time there was an airline that flew passengers on jets painted in almost every colour of the rainbow, dressed its cabin crew in space helmets to protect their hairdos (think goldfish bowls) and reversible coats and made flying not just fun but fashionable.
Braniff International Airways was a Texas-based airline that came into its own in the 60s (despite being around since 1928) when most airlines were switching over from piston to jet engines.
With the jet age came the “end of the plain plane” as Braniff transformed its jets with pastel coloured paint jobs. Orange, beige and baby blue were ‘in’. Designer Emilio Pucci unveiled new ‘stewardess’ uniforms that looked like something the Jetsons would wear.
There was no one uniform look. Cabin crew were given a capsule wardrobe of symmetrical outfits and multiple outfit changes were standard on flights –so the crew would sport a different look at boarding, meal times and on night and day flights.
And art that reflected its time graced the walls in gate lounges, ticket offices and aircraft cabins.
But it wasn’t all style and no substance. Even economy (coach) passengers were given the royal treatment and had access to their own lounge on board Braniff’s 747s.
But Braniff expanded too quickly and suffered from rising fuel prices and the Airline Deregulation Act in 1978, which opened the door to aggressive airline competition.
30 years ago this month, the airline sadly flew in the direction of many carriers today – into bankruptcy.
Braniff’s brave “Air Strip” ad campaign
The designer uniforms that turned heads disappeared like they suddenly went out of fashion, along with the glamour of air travel, some fans say.
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