The Early Years
Traveling onboard Pan Am's big Clippers involved long hours taken up with reading, games and dining. Onboard heating of food came in 1935 for inflight meal preparation, with elaborate multi-course meals served on china and formal table settings.
Pan Am's Golden Age
The Clipper Cruises of the flying boat era with overnight stops ended, and with the onset of World War Two, passenger comfort became a lower priority. But after the war, with a booming economy that enabled many more travelers to fly to more exotic destinations, Pan Am renewed its focus on passenger inflight experience.
Travel time on Pan Am got a whole lot shorter with use of land planes. Stratocruisers retained a luxury cruise ship quality, a double-decker with a lounge and a bar, and Presidential class sleeping berths. A series of Douglas-built transports offered Rainbow Class service with simpler service options, but with the same rapid travel capabilities. Pan Am also began tourist fares as early as 1948, increasing flight accessibility to a wider range of travelers.
In January 1950, the name Pan American Airways was changed to Pan American World Airways, with a transformed winged globe logo, now showing the whole world to match the new name.
Pan Am's Jet Age
In 1957, in anticipation of the Jet Age, the company logo changed again to a blue globe with two simple words, "Pan Am," symbolizing the airline's leading presence around the world.
In 1958, with the advent of 707s and jet travel, Pan Am marketed stylish experience, cuisine and inflight entertainment, as passengers stayed seated during much of their shorter flights. Pan Am stewardesses, sophisticated and well-educated, became an integral part of the magic of the Pan Am experience.
By 1965 Pan Am had inaugurated "Theatre in the Air" movie features with overhead screens plus 10 audio channels of programmed listening.
The inauguration of the 747, "The Queen of the Skies," took everyone into a new global era of travel where the emphasis was on passenger comfort and, for first-class passengers, the return of the cruise ship experiences with a "flying restaurant," bar and lounge.
Enjoy a Pan Am radio ad from Motor City Radio Flashbacks. And some great inflight service photos:
Luxury on Wings
The Early Years - Pan Am's Boeing 314 Dinner Service
An early B-314 Menu, Pan Am, 1940s, (Rod Sullivan Collection)
Pan Am's Golden Age, postwar flight service and stewardess in the late 1940s
Ad Showing Inflight Service: "The Finest and The Fastest" from Pan Am's Golden Age, 1948
"Banquet With The Stars": 1947 Carrier ad featuring a Pan Am stewardess
The Jet Age: Illustration of a Pan Am 707 inflight meal
Pan Am's Jet Age: Ad about onboard dining at Maxim's of Paris, 1968
The Jet Age: Pan Am Rainbow Class Menu Cover, 1961
Pan Am's Global Era: Concept drawing of a Boeing 747 staircase and lounge
From Pan Am's Global Era: 747 Menu covers designed by Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv, 1970
Global Era: Pan Am Boeing 747 Menu cover in blue