Skip to main content

Video of Continental Airlines' Flagship Jet in the 1970s Is a Trip Down Memory Lane

Those were definitely the glory days of air travel.

There was a time when plane travel was considered luxurious, and, with the government regulating ticket prices, airlines had to compete on amenities offered to their passengers. 

A far cry from the “cattle cars” we all tolerate these days, the planes of the past were filled with enormous spaces as well as all manner of food, drink, and entertainment. The funny part is that several of the perks that people of fifty years ago would consider the height of modernity would baffle today’s air travelers.

This video, a 1970s promotional film from Continental Airlines advertising their new “wide body” aircraft, showcases a variety of features designed to impress customers from its era, but will alternately astonish or amuse modern viewers. First of all is the cavernous pub on board, where folks are milling about as if there is no such thing as turbulence, sipping coffee and cocktails out of ceramic and glass containers, and selecting food from a buffet sideboard. I’ll certainly think about this commercial next time I’m on a flight paying $7.50 for a pre-mixed Bloody Mary out of a can.

Also heavily featured in the video is a shot of the then-state-of-the-art “electronic game” of Pong, which easily takes up what would be three rows of triple seats in a modern airbus.

But most of the ad is devoted to their apparently impressive library of old time film “serials” and vintage “news reels of yesterday” (yes, seriously!). This is a selling point worthy of more than half the commercial’s running time. Though the screen is absolutely enormous for the 1970s, I doubt the display or the offerings impresses anyone now. We’d all rather just download our video of voice on our phone.

“I’d have loved to fly back then, when it was classy,” says one viewer of this vintage ad. “But I would have hated wearing heels.”

Girl, same.  

Related Articles