May 12th 1982, the worlds most colourful airline ‘Braniff International Airways’ ceased operations. 30 years ago, the skies were definately a more colourful place. Long gone the days of the humdrum, Braniff took the aviation experience to a whole new level, with space helmets for cabin crew, bold planes, partnerships with artisans, innovative ideas for their fleet which are now commonplace within commercial aviation but back then were shockingly futuristic. They were an airline with a vision for the future, very much a ‘Star Trek’ of aviation.
Many airlines since have looked back at Braniff and tried to emulate the emotion the airline created within their own brand, perhaps the most successful since is Virgin, however they still haven’t ever taken such risks and pushed boundaries as much as Braniff had in their time.
Braniff partnered with Emilio Pucci to create their uniforms and partnered with artist Alexander Calder to redesign their planes, each one was unique and the uniforms were highly futuristic in feeling compared to the competition. The colourful palette was created to emulate the culture of the destinations the airline flew too, trying to create the idea of starting your holiday once you boarded the plane.
Sadly the demise of the airline came as it stretched itself too thin, starting Concorde flights that were rarely more than 15% full between Dallas and London and Paris. This mixed with other failing routes meant the airline had to cease operations after becoming bankrupt on May 11th 1982.
Still, 3 decades on, the airline continues to bring smiles to peoples faces and isn’t really ever missed with anything apart from real admiration for what the airline stood for. With the 5 second trailers after every episode of South Park, or cameos in The Simpsons, it’s fair to say, even in modern day culture, Braniff won’t ever really die in our thoughts.
Here are a few videos to give you an idea of the Braniff future we could all be living in…