Retro video: United Airlines in 1980 – “Diamonds In The Sky”

Here’s a fantastic flash back of United Airlines, and the U.S. airline industry, circa 1980. I’ve seen this hour-long video before, but just came across it again yesterday and it’s truly a gem. It really doesn’t get going until about nine minutes in with an interview of then President & CEO of United, Richard Ferris.

I jumped around a bit and found some gems, including a reporter who stated while interviewing a United executive, “anyone who has been traveling for some years will have noticed that air travel has in general become more impersonal, less comfortable and less elegant.” What would he think today?

There was also a great in-flight clip of a sparsely occupied upper deck First Class lounge on a 747 where the commentator remarks, “seems like a waste of space.”

The conversations with reservations agents are also priceless. If you don’t have an hour to spend watching, just jump around like I did and you’ll find some other remarkable moments.


  1. This was brilliant! I used this as the foundation of a research paper I wrote in high school in 1980. Thanks for bringing back the memories!

  2. So much crazy stuff. The flight attendant graduation; the baggage claim office; the “secure” location of the Apollo computer system…

    I think the craziest thing was the phone reservation system. I’m young enough that I’ve never booked a flight in any other way than the internet…I just can’t fathom calling in and saying “yes, do you have any super saver fares from Chicago to LaGuardia on August 8th, and on a dinner flight please?” Just nuts.

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