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Pan Am: Photos From The Golden Age Of Travel (SLIDESHOW)

First Posted: 09/21/2011 2:17 pm   Updated: 10/11/2012 11:15 am

From the 1920's until its demise in 1991, Pan American Airlines symbolized all that was luxurious in air travel. Elite fliers packed some of the first commercial use jumbo jets and were treated to delicious rounds of meals served by bright and beautiful girls in couture uniforms. Celebrities, businessmen and "Rainbow Class" alike jetted-off to far-flung vacation spots across the globe on this mega airline, the US's first International carrier.

Like its iconic stewardesses, Pan Am had beauty and brains; they were the first carrier to adopt Boeing's 747, revolutionized radio communication and emergency equipment, and broke records with a New York to New York 'round-the-world trip.

The fate of Pan Am, of course, was not a glamorous one with route monopoly problems and bankruptcy grounding flights permanently in December of 1991. For a few short decades, though, the pilots and their girls in blue were celebs in their own right, almost invincible, changing the way we would forever think about air travel, even inspiring a brand-new tv show 20 years later. But what was life really like in the friendly skies?

*Check out HuffPost Travel on Sunday for our interview with six former Pan Am flight attendants (aka World Wings International) on the life of a flight attendant in their day.*

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  • The Faces of Pan Am

    Trained in medical services, extreme situations and luxury, the Pan Am stewardesses helped shape the definition of service and style in the air that made Pan Am as popular as it was for decades.

  • Pan Am Girls On Calendar

    Looked up to by wanderlusting kids and adults, the girls were stars n their own right.

  • Carol Young and Her Fellow Stewardesses

    Carol Young and her fellow class of stewardesses pose for a photo, a common occurrence for the Pan Am girls.

  • Come Fly WIth Me

    An original 1960's Pan Am brochure detailing their services in the skies.

  • International Friends

    A large number of Pan Am stewardesses were European, given the number of International routes the carrier held. However, the large group was just as tight as family.

  • A Celebration In The Sky

    Many families were excited to hear about the adventures of their fun-seeking daughters. Here, Leslie Paine Anding shares her Pan Am wings with her dad and grandfather.

  • Star-Studded Flights

    All the ladies agreed, having celebrities on-board was a blast. Here, Lone Pedersen Schweitzer meets actor Lee Marvin.

  • First Class Service

    With three tiers of first class and numerous "Rainbow" class options, the stewardesses served a variety of menus. Even in Rainbow, a long-haul flight like NYC to Rio could have as many as three full meals.

  • Stewardess Style: The Hair

    Pan Am stewardesses were styled by Vidal Sassoon and required to keep up their cute crop cut.

  • Stewardess Style: The Hat

    The Pan Am cap was a favorite of the ladies, due in part to it's resemblance to the iconic Jackie O pillbox hat.

  • Stewardess Style: The Skirt

    Skirts were specifically fitted to stewardess proportions and were required to sit two inches below the knee.

  • Stewardess Style: The Jacket

    While many frequent fliers remember the Pan Am girls for their blue coats, they often stripped them off during in-flight service.

  • Pan Am: Now Departing

    Among the most favored far-flung destinations the stewardesses flew? Tehran, Bangkok, Cambodia, Rio and Paris.

  • The Cabin Crew As Family

    "We were part of a family," remembers former Pan Am stewardess Anne Sweeney. Leslie Paine Anding agrees, "I remember how hard it was to say goodbye."


Much thanks to the lovely ladies of World Wings International for their photos and memories.

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Filed by Annemarie Dooling  |