Look back at the early days of American Airlines – doing what they did best

Note: This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.

Look back at the early days of American Airlines

Note: This article may feature affiliate links to Amazon or other companies, and purchases made via these links may earn us a small commission at no additional cost to you. Find out more here.

American Airlines was one of the first companies to offer passenger flights in the US.

The industry’s biggest success came after WWII, thanks to developments made during the war. Here’s a look back for some history on the airline’s first decades!

American Airlines: Air is international (1943)

Passenger and cargo planes of many nations will ply the air after the war. That is a certainty!

The problems involved are totally different from any that ever confronted the world because there is only one air… international air!

The necessity immediately to study these problems is forced upon us by the rapid ascendancy of global military aviation. Prior to this war, aviation ranked in 40th place among the industries of the United States. Today it is No. 1.

Four years ago, all of the domestic airlines in the United States operated a total of about only 265 transport planes… and received public patronage for only about half of their capacity. Now, in a single month, we build more than 25 times that number of aircraft.

MORE: WWII newspaper headlines from the D-Day invasion of France (1944)

Before 1939, American pilots made about 33 transatlantic flights. During this one year of 1943, tens of thousands of flights will be made over the Atlantic Ocean alone.

Our Army Air Transport Command, and our airlines under the Army’s direction, fly millions of miles daily, over oceans and continents, over jungles and arctic regions.

Vintage American Airlines ticket sleeve from 1944

International air traffic, therefore, is being debated in our Congress and in the British and Canadian Parliaments. The political, economic and social potentials are being pondered by our State Department and by officials of other nations.

Our President has appointed an interdepartmental committee to seek answers to the many momentous questions involved.

The regulations evolved by these men, working in co-operation with the Civil Aeronautics Board, with the approval of the President and Congress, will affect every nation.

We cannot escape the consequences any more than we can escape air itself. Because air brings all peoples closer together, these men are making the blueprint for how best for us to to live together.

ALSO SEE: How the Wright Brothers took the first powered flight – and how it changed the world

There is no adequate precedent to guide these architects of our new world. Theirs is a more imperative pioneering job than faced our ancient ancestors when the spericity of the earth was discovered. Past generations took centuries for the transition from the flat world to transportation around the world.

But the speed of the airplane, its freedom to travel in any direction, over land and water alike, create changes at a rate faster and on a scale vaster than have ever challenged men before.

American Airlines system map - 1940s

Therefore, our postwar-air committeemen must weigh factors that are as different, both in kind and degree, from elements inherent in land-and-water-transportation, as air itself differs from the earth it surrounds.

The surface of the earth is divided into many “pieces:” oceans, continents, islands and topographical barriers. In contrast, air is all in one “piece.”

Everyone is air-linked by the continuity of air to everyone else on earth. Every country equally is exposed to the constructive use of air and equally is vulnerable to its destructive misuse. Because airplanes travel above the earth, no nation can ensconce itself behind surface boundary lines or buffer states.

MORE: How Glenn Miller got the world ‘In the Mood’ – and then disappeared forever during WWII

While a major obligation is to maintain aerial prowess for our own nation’s protection we must recognize that air is not local, but universal. Inseparably it encompasses all of the earth. Therefore the well-being of all countries is becoming more interdependent in ratio to the speed and volume of air transportation.

There is no better way to insure our nation’s future in the air than to follow the American way. Private enterprise developed our airline industry, making possible the foundation upon which we built our war-expanded aviation – a foundation so firm that quickly we overtook and surpassed the totalitarian nations.

Old American Airlines logo

In order that the benefits of postwar commercial use of the air may be available to all peoples, we favor governmentally regulated international airline competition.

Before this war the airlines of the United States led the world. During this war they are measuring up to unprecedented demands both at home and overseas. There is no question as to their ability to continue to do so after the war.

However, what is more important than the ambition of any one airline is the furtherance of our national welfare, in the new relationship of peoples in our changing world. Therefore the postwar-air program must be predicated upon agreements between nations.

In the final analysis our status in world-air is a matter of individual responsibility. Air-rules cannot make of us an airfaring nation. They can only give us the opportunity, along with other countries, to utilize the air most effectively.

A.N. Kemp
President, American Airlines, Inc.


American Airlines – The World’s Fair line – 1939

American Airlines - The World's Fair line - 1939

ALSO SEE: Knute Rockne’s TWA airplane crashes – The football legend among the 8 killed (1931)


American Airlines for salesmen (1950)

Sales go up when salesmen do!

Whether your principal problem is to assure more calls within a given territory, or to expand the coverage of individual salesmen, air travel supplies an economical and logical solution.

For, as many alert companies have already discovered, air travel is the only means of transportation that enables you to increase the efficiency of individual effort without increasing the cost. And today, as always, that is the surest path to profit.

American Airlines for salesmen - 1950


Dine with American

American airlines service 1958


Vintage American Airlines: The smart way to travel

American Airlines 1949 - Travel smart


Columbus may have discovered America, but Mother discovered American! (1948)

Women are all alike on one thing anyhow… when they find something new, they just have to tell everybody about it… especially when the news is good!

Air travel by Flagshop is anything but a new discovery to thousands of women. But, tehre’s always that first trip, and how they love it! They love the easy comfort of the plane seats, the delicious food, the friendly stewardesses, the spacious dressing rooms.

But most of all they love the way miles melt into minutes on a Flagship. They’re delighted! They’ve made another “discovery” and they just can’t wait to tell the folks back home all about it.

Discover this modern way to travel for yourself — today.

1949 American Airlines


See your grandchildren for the holidays (1940s)

Vintage 1940s American airlines


How to go home to mother (1940s/1950s)

Go home to mother and make everyone happy - 1940s 1950s

MORE: A 1950s tour guide to Hawaii: See what the islands looked like before becoming the 50th state


Children behave so well you hardly believe they’re yours (1955)

Travel with children becomes a pleasure instead of a problem when you go by Flagship. That’s because most Flagship journeys are over before children become tired, bored and cross the way they do from driving all day or from other tedious surface transportation.

American also helps to make family travel as easy on your budget as on your children. For instance, you can use American’s Family A Fare plan on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays when wives or children travel the Flagships with father for half fare.

Or you can fly American’s famous DC 6 Aircoach service at substantial savings. In addition, you can apply American’s “Go Now — Pay Later” Plan not only to all fares but also to complete packaged vacations.

You’ll find the best-behaved children are yours when you take them by Flagship. Take them soon and see.

Fly American Airlines with kids - Ad from 1955 (2)

Fly American Airlines with kids - Ad from 1955 (1)


Traveling on American’s flagship planes with a baby

Airplane travel with a baby 1949

ALSO SEE: Pretty, thin, young and single? Check out these sexist stewardess job requirements of the ’50s & ’60s


American Airlines in-flight meals (1955)
American Airlines in-flight meals 1955


American Airlines DC7 (1957)

American Airlines 1957 - DC7


Coast to coast in 4-1/2 hours! Another historic first for America’s leading airline

American Airlines has always led the way in bringing you the great advances in air transportation — the first sleeper plane — the famous DC-3. DC-6 and DC-7 — the first aircoach service in modern airplanes — the first nonstop service in both directions coast to coast.

And now, most significant of all, the first jet service in the U.S.A. — Los Angeles to New York in 4-1/2 hours.

AMERICAN AIRLINES: First with jets in the USA

Coast-to-coast on American Airlines jets 1958

 


Vintage American Airlines poster – Washington DC

Vintage American Airlines poster - Washington DC

MORE: See what United Airlines flights in the ’50s were supposed to be like

If you liked this, please share it! Our small business appreciates it. :-) You can also get our free newsletter, follow us on Facebook & Pinterest, plus see exclusive retro-inspired products in our shop. Thanks for visiting!

More stories you might like

Because the fun never ends

Comments on this story

Leave a comment here!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Choose your next adventure