Travel Tidbits from airports, airlines, and museums near you

Changes at Denver International Airport Checkpoints

Denver International Airport (DEN) is making some big changes at several of its security checkpoint lanes this week, with the goal of making traveling through the airport easier.

You can read all the details about DEN’s TSA Checkpoint shuffle here, but one new feature that caught our attention is the Travel-Lite Lane that TSA will be offering at the North Security Checkpoint. This express lane is set aside for ravelers with only one item, such as a backpack, briefcase, or purse. A great idea for those who have checked their suitcases and/or are traveling light.

Zip it! Check out the Zipper Dress made by a Southwest Airlines Ramp Agent

Places We’d Go: John Soane’s Museum in London

Throughout the pandemic, Viking Cruises’ Viking.TV has been providing lectures and behind-the-scenes visits to wonderful places all over the world. We’re big fans of Museum Mondays and this week’s offering is a documentary about restoring one of our favorite places in London, Sir John Soane’s Museum, to its original state.

Take a look.

Fashion show on an airport runway? Yes.

Helsinki match made in HEL

A while back, Helsinki Airport and Finnair turned an airport runway into a skatepark.

That worked out so well, they’re doing it again:

On May 24, Finnair and Helsinki Airport (HEL) will host Runway 2 – a fashion show featuring work by top designers from around the world presented on an airport runway.

The event is a Match Made in HEL and will feature the work of yet-to-be announced fashion designers from China, Korea, Japan, the UK, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

Sounds like great fun. Especially if the planes landing and taking off that day use the other runway…

Fashionable & frivolous flight attendant attire – part 2

Here are more fun photos from a slide show on flight attendant uniforms I put together for CNBC Road Warrior. Part 1 is here.

Hughes Airwest, Designed by Mario Armond Zamparelli, 1972-77

Hughes Airwest uniform courtesy Ted Huetter, Museum of Flight Seattle

According to Seattle’s Museum of Flight, in the early 1970s American artist and designer Mario Armond Zamparelli was asked by business magnate and aviator Howard Hughes to create new flight attendant uniforms for Hughes Airwest. A memorable Airwest outfit was a Sundance Yellow princess-line knit dress, which had a matching zippered jacket. When going outdoors, flight attendants could add a hooded cape or a princess-line coat.


In the 1960s and ’70s, hotpants were common, as seen in this Continental uniform. Courtesy Cliff Muskiet

“Hot pants and short dresses with hot pants underneath were a common look in the 1960s and ’70s, and Continental, PSA and Southwest Airlines all had uniforms featuring that style,” said Cliff Muskiet of uniformfreakcom. “In those years, the stewardess was used to attract male passengers and hot pants were part of the plan,” he said.

8_courtesy Cathay Pacific

Courtesy Cathay Pacific

Compared with the hot pants-themed uniforms some airlines required their flight attendants to wear during the ’60s and ’70s, these Cathay Pacific uniforms, launched in July 2011, appear to be quite tame. But the union representing the airline’s flight attendants recently complained the outfits were “too sexy.”

In a statement, Cathay Pacific said it has made some modifications to the uniform to address concerns about the length of the blouse and the tightness of the skirt, and crew members “are welcome to exchange their uniform any time if they feel the fit is not right.”

Although many of the older airlines are long gone, some of the classic airlines are looking to return to the skies, such as PEOPLExpress.

In May 2014, a group trying to bring back Eastern Air Lines, the iconic Miami-based carrier that operated from the 1920s until 1991, held a contest to choose a designer for the uniforms crew members might wear when the airline returns to the skies. The winner was Miami-based designer Lisu Vega, whose collection includes a variety of chic, navy and teal outfits with matching hats and luggage.

9_Lisu Vega_Eastern Air Lines possible uniform

Eastern Air Lines uniform Simon Soong / Courtesy Lisu Vega



Fashionable & frivolous flight attendant attire

Here’s part of a fun slide show I put together for CNBC Road Warrior and NBC News Travel on some fashionable and, at times, frivolous uniforms worn by airline flight attendants over the years.

1_Intro_Air Hostess

Courtesy International Women’s Air & Space Museum

Since 1930, when efficient, caped nurses became the first stewardesses, it’s been a tradition for flight attendants to look great while making sure airline customers are comfortable and safe.

The role of the flight attendant hasn’t really changed, but cabin crew outfits certainly have. Here’s a look at some of the chic, fashionable and intriguing uniforms that have been spotted in the skies.

Boeing Nurses

Courtesy: The Boeing Company

In 1930, Ellen Church became the first airline stewardess after convincing Boeing Air Transport (now United Airlines) that the presence of onboard nurses would go a long way in helping early passengers overcome their fear of flying.

Seven other registered nurses soon joined Church’s team, gathering to pose for this photo wearing uniforms made of dark green wool, with matching green and gray wool capes.

3_ Braniff1966

A Braniff 1966 Pucci uniform. From the collection of Cliff Muskiet

“Back in the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s all stewardess uniforms looked alike,” said Cliff Muskiet, curator of Uniform Freak, an online museum of flight attendant uniforms. The only colors used were navy blue, dark green and brown for winter uniforms and light blue, light green and beige for summer uniforms, said Muskiet.

It gave stewardesses “a very conservative look,” he said. During the mid-to-late 1960s, however, airlines began turning to fashion designers and ad agencies to cultivate a hipper, sexier image for flight attendants. In 1966, Braniff International Airways crew members would be hard to miss wearing this eye-catching, geometric print dress with matching tights by Italian designer Emilio Pucci.

Braniff Air Strip

Courtesy: The Braniff Collection

A titillating print and TV advertising campaign for Braniff in 1965 was called the “Air Strip” and featured a Pucci-designed uniform with several layers that could be removed during a flight.

“The TV commercial depicted a stewardess performing an airborne striptease,” said Victoria Vantoch, author of “The Jet Sex—Airlines Stewardesses and the Making of an American Icon.”

“Braniff turned the stewardess into a patently sexual icon and other airlines soon followed,” she said.

Bubble Helmet

Image: Braniff Bubble Helmet Braniff Collection, The History of Aviation Collection, Eugene McDermott Library, University of Texas at Dallas.

In the mid-1960s Pucci also created an unusual clear plastic bubble helmet as part of the uniform line designed for Dallas-based Braniff. The helmets weren’t intended to be worn into space, but rather to protect a flight attendant’s hairdo if she needed to walk across a windy tarmac.

I’ll be back with part two of this slide show in a future post, but in the meantime, here’s a link to the full slide show on CNBC Road Warrior.

Fashion for flight attendants yet to fly

eastern uniform snippet

Detail of an Eastern Air Lines flight attendant uniform from the 1970s. Courtesy


The group trying to bring back Eastern Air Lines, the iconic Miami-based carrier that operated from the 1920s until 1991, has been filing paperwork, shopping for airplanes and dreaming about what crew members will wear in the aisles.

In January, the Eastern Air Lines Group filed its initial application with the U.S. Department of Transportation and starting putting together operating manuals for submission to the Federation Aviation Administration.

The company, which acquired the old Eastern name and logo in 2009, is now in discussions with major aircraft leasing companies for a fleet of new aircraft.

“We expect to conclude arrangements in the next few weeks,” said Eastern’s president and CEO Edward Wegel.

The airline plans to complete all regulatory requirements by the end of 2014, but the timeline for actually take-off, first as a charter operator and, later, with scheduled service, is up to the FAA and DOT.

While it waits for approvals, Eastern has asked Miami Fashion Week organizers to invite top fashion designers from South Florida to create uniforms for the airline’s modern-day flight attendants.

“The flight attendants will be recruited from the region and the company wants to capture, as much as possible, the look and feel of the Miami/Caribbean/Latin American landscape in the styling of the new uniforms,” read the official contest rules.

Designers have been asked to submit sketches and mood boards for four outfits, plus a design for uniforms that might be worn in 2050. Winning designs will be announced during Miami Fashion Week, which runs May 15-18.

“Previous Eastern Air Lines uniforms used a classic houndstooth print, which I love,” said designer Nikki Poulos , one of the invited contestants.

She created a new houndstooth print as part of her entry.

Houndstooth and Tropical print for Eastern Air Lines by Nikki Poulos

Houndstooth and Tropical print for Eastern Air Lines by Nikki Poulos. Courtesy of the designer and Miami Fashion Week



“Look closely at the print and you will see the Eastern Air Lines logo as the main graphic element,” said Poulos. She also created a tropical print using the airline’s signature colors of navy, turquoise and white – with an added splash of lime green – to capture the South Florida environment.

Unfortunately, given the turbulent nature of the U.S. airline industry, it may be quite a while before the winning Eastern Air Lines uniform gets to fly.

According to an unofficial compilation of airline bankruptcies put together by airline trade group Airlines for America, there have been 196 U.S. airline bankruptcies since 1979, with 49 of those bankruptcies taking place since January 1, 2001.

“You now have four very large airlines – American, Delta, United and Southwest – dominating the industry,” said Joshua Schank, president and CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation, “And the history of failure for start-ups in this industry has caused investors to be wary.”

This past March, for example, Florida Express Jet abruptly canceled planned service it had announced between several Sunshine State cities.

PEOPLExpress, which like Eastern, is trying to create a new airline with an old name, “doesn’t seem to be making a great deal of progress,” said George Hamlin, president of Hamlin Transportation Consulting, “But there are a few notable exceptions, including JetBlue and Virgin America, which took many years to achieve a profit,” he said.

Eastern still has name recognition and nostalgia for the ‘good old days’ of flying on its side.

“It was one of the largest airlines in the world and retains good brand equity as it was the largest airline to fly to Latin America and the Caribbean and also operated the famous Eastern Shuttle between New York, Boston and Washington,” notes Eastern’s Wegel.

But that may not be enough.

“The chance of any airline startup working out is now well under 50 percent,” said Schank, “The chances of reviving an old brand are even worse.”

(A different version of my story about Eastern Air Lines first appeared on NBC News Travel.)