Ten top gift ideas for the airline or aviation enthusiast

George Hobica, December 09, 2007
Fares from Washington DC:

    We know what’s on our wish list this season: anything that’s emblazoned with an airline logo, especially if it's vintage. We’d especially love a couple of authentic airline posters showing our favorite aircraft (Constellations, 707s, and VC10’s in case you were wondering). And there are a few books we’ve been meaning to add to our shelves. If you’re shopping for someone who’s just plane nuts like we are, then here are some suggestions.

    1. We love the retro Pan Am bags sold by Panamone.com sporting the now defunct airline’s iconic logo in classic blue and white. They’re pricey, however.

    2. For something of a newer vintage, American Airlines sells logo items in its gift shop, including retro carry on totes from the forties and fifties starting at $28.50. Their t-shirts are not that attractive, however, in our humble opinion, but we do like the Blue Raised Logo Cap at $17.50 with the classic AA eagle logo in red, white and blue.

    3. Over at style-conscious JetBlue, you’ll find dozens of items  subtly decorated with the airline’s logo, such as a laptop computer sleeve ($35), or a dog collar (we're getting one for Browser, of course) with the airline’s blue windowpane treatment ($7.99) and a pack of 50 stickers of various designs ($11.50).

    4. Or how about a Delta crew tag or a nifty mug with a retro Delta logo ($4.99)  from the Delta online store  (for crew and passengers) where you’ll find a ton of Delta logo and other useful gifts.

    5. By far the best selection of airline logo t-shirts we’ve found is the interspace180.com selection. Last we checked, 16 tastefully reproduced logos from past and present carriers are represented, each selling for $12.99 (we especially like the bright blue KLM model). There are dozens more airlines represented on their eBay store.

    6. Then there are posters of course. Real (as opposed to reproduction) vintage airline posters sell for hundreds of dollars from shops such as International Posters in Boston  Ft. Lauderdale-based Art and Posters Worldwide and New York’s Chisholm Larsson Gallery, but you can buy high quality repros for much less. Flyingclippers.com  sells some classics (we’d give almost anything to own the originals, but many of them are almost impossible to find at any price.)  This Pan Am World Airways beauty measures a generous 39 by 25 inches and goes for $50. The site also sells aircraft models, books, and videos.

    7. Books are another good idea. We got a kick out of Airline Design ($16.47 from Amazon), a beautifully illustrated tome showing the best and sometimes worst of airline uniforms, cabin interiors, and other design elements over the years.  Or there’s this book  chronicling 50 years of seat back safety and “seat occupied” cards ($21.90 from Amazon). For the little ones (or even curious adults) there’s the Noisy Airplane Ride by Mike Downs and David Gordon ($6.95), which explains all those curious sounds an airplane makes before, during, and after takeoff.

    8. Or how about an airplane model for the aviation enthusiast on your list? An Airbus A380 would cost you millions for the real thing, but a 1:200 scale model from Herpa Wings will set you back a mere $62.50 at Just Plane Fun.

    9.  Authentic vintage memorabilia, such as cabin service dinnerware and uniforms, also make a great gift. One way to find items is to do a search on eBay (“BOAC Bag” for example, or “Pam Am Crew Tag”), but you can also buy them on sites such as CabinClass.com  where a recent search would have come up with a wonderful American Airlines hat box circa 1950 (was this for stewardesses to put their caps in or a giveaway to frequent passengers?) in fine condition for $125, or a vintage Continental Airlines woolen blanket sells for $60.

    10. None of these ideas fuel your jets? You’ll find lots of other great ideas by following the links in the aviation memorabilia and collectibles is this area of web site Thirty Thousand Feet. And we wish everyone a peaceful holiday season.