The Sunbird, United Airlines 1980s
This in-flight menu was created for The Sunbird Service, flown by United Airways to destinations such as Florida, Arizona and Mexico. It must have been a welcome sight to many an excited air passenger in the 70s and 80s and is also a reminder of how catering on board aircraft has – to put it politely – changed quite a lot.
Drinks on offer to customers in coach included cocktails, champagne and wine and a festive drink called the Sunbird Swizzle which could be bought for $1.
The three-course meal was prepared by Marriott In-Flite Services, the hotel company’s airline catering business which was once the world’s largest provider of airline meals. Marriott essentially created the airline food industry in 1937 by providing box lunches of chicken sandwiches, coleslaw and cupcakes to Eastern and American airlines. It grew from providing picnic lunches to 22 flights daily in 1938 to serving 150 airlines through 108 flight kitchens at 45 US and 38 foreign airports. At its peak the company had 19,000 employees and was sold to an investor group in 1988.
With its striking color and eye-catching illustration, the design of this vintage menu art has stood the test of time and still looks strikingly modern.
Courtesy Private Collection.
Each order includes a print of the interior menu.
All printed in USA.