Those with long memories view the flights of yesteryear through rose tinted glasses. They speak of beautiful crews decked out in skimpy outfits carving roasts at the seat on aircraft that are hardly full. Sounds wonderful! However a look at some vintage British Airways seat maps tells a different story.
Airline seating has come a long way since the 1990s when BA introduced lie-flat seats in Club World business class (we’ll overlook how Philippine Airlines had actual bunks for First Class passengers on their Boeing 747 upper decks before this!). Nowadays every international carrier offers lie-flat seating, but what were things like before that?
Vintage British Airways Seat Maps
Remember airline timetables? They were often printed on the thinnest paper imaginable to keep them slim. That means you could see through the pages a bit, which explains why some of the following scans look as they do. These are not my scans by the way, I found them online.
Back when I was about 13 or 14, I phoned airlines and had them send me their timetables. One of my favourite parts were the seating plans in the back and I found British Airways had some of the best. Not only did they have a bunch of different aircraft types in the fleet, but they also had Concorde.
The differences between then and today are stark in the premium cabins. First class comprises of recliners, with a large footrest denoted on the seat map. It looks a bit more like today’s business class, but nothing like what is up front today.
Club World business class looks a lot like what you see in Premium Economy today. Economy class hasn’t seemed to have changed much, though I suppose today everyone has an individual screen whereas back then it was a cinema type screen per cabin and pneumatic headphones!
It’s fun seeing the vintage British Airways seat maps, just to see how much things have changed. Some of them have been recreated at aeroLOPA as well, which gives you a more modern look at the scale of the arrangements.
Passengers flying the Lockheed TriStar remember the five toilets right at the back of the economy class cabin, just as much as those on the early Boeing 747s remember the spiral staircase to the upper deck. Good times all round, I’m sure!
What do you think of these vintage British Airways seat maps? Do they bring back any memories for you? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
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Featured image by Mike Freer of Touchdown Aviation on Airliners.net via Wikimedia Commons.
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Y has changed also, tighter pitch and narrower/harder seat compared to what was flying back then
Good point there, the seats were much “fatter” and had more padding back in the day. Very true indeed, so comfort was perhaps better too. Thanks for that!
These are great!! I remember American having these pages as well, as well as Northwest. I was always elated when a schedule change occurred, I would spend hours mapping out flights based upon aircraft types and airports I hadn’t flown to. Great memories
I enjoyed the timetables, they always seemed to be so exotic and they were quite well laid out to see what went where and when. I think I still have a couple at my parents place (a BA one, the last Pan Am one before shutdown – it was very thin) which I will have to have a look for next time I visit. Good times!