23 vintage photos that show how glamorous flying used to be

Although flying today is cheaper, safer, and faster than it’s ever been, it’s becoming an increasingly unpleasant experience as airlines cram more passengers into planes, causing overcrowding and delays.

It’s enough to make travellers wish for the golden age of aviation.

We found vintage photos from 1946 to 1970, sourced from Iberia, KLM, Delta, British Airways and Air France, that show just how glamorous flying used to be.

We're grateful that smoking is no longer permitted on planes, but we can't deny this guy's got style.

With today's lie-flat beds in first and business class, not all that much has changed since 1949 on a KLM flight.

Seats on Delta have definitely shrunk since 1959.

Bunk beds (on KLM), however, we'd love to see making a comeback.

Flight attendants used to really dote on passengers.

Extra pillow service was a nice touch.

Instead of staring into screens, kids would get a geography lesson -- at least on this Iberia flight.

Plane food was made fresh on KLM in 1958, and even hand-delivered by the chef. Is that caviar?

Meals were decadent on this British Airways flight in the '60s.

BA flight attendants even hand-carved entire hams.

Rather than prepackaged in tin foil, steak was cut seat-side.

Cocktails on BA were made to order, and there were real bars to enjoy them in.

The whole set up was just really social on this 1971 KLM flight. Comparatively, flying today is like being on an airborne bus.

People played cards!

A lot of cards. That's probably the downside to not having entertainment centres in every seat.

Hopefully you knew your fellow travellers, otherwise this set up could be pretty awkward.

Pedro Rodríguez, the Spanish it-designer of the '60s and '70s, designed the classy but authoritative Iberia uniform.

These are Iberia's airline 'hostesses.' They're not flight attendants, and certainly not stewardesses.

This 1946 Iberia uniform, on the other hand, has something vaguely nautical about it.

Most uniforms included hats.

The hats were great.

Delta's colourful summer uniforms in the late '60s really capture the essence of the time.

This cute little number, worn in 1967, was known as British Airways' (then still the British Overseas Airways Corporation) 'paper dress.'

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.