This article was first published in the summer of 2019 as part of a 100 part series on the history of British Airways and its predecessor airlines, Imperial Airways, BOAC and BEA. You can browse the full series of 100 stories in numerical order, by theme or by decade.
In the early days of commercial aviation, long before television advertising (let alone digital) took hold the principal means by which airlines advertised their services was the poster.
American Airlines, Braniff International Airways, Pan American World Airways, Swissair, Trans World Airways, United Airlines and many others all used the medium to great effect.
This was not only to sell the relatively new and glamorous idea of flying to a small constituency of wealthy travellers, but also their respective fleets and route networks, to passengers in their home markets and around the world. They use a variety of techniques from painting, to illustration and modernist graphic design.
In an era where there is an endless stream of digital content which can often prove to be ephemeral, so much so it’s easy to just glaze over it all, these posters have endured.