Glamour – the best word for the jet set

May 13, 2022
Braniff hostesses show off their new jetset uniforms on a mocjup of the Lockheed L-2000.

Glamour is the best word, to sum up, the jet engine which spawned the jet set.

That’s not the word the engineers would use – they would talk about engine core and exhaust gas temperatures with a twinkle in their eye.

But for the public, a jet aircraft was glamour.

It was Peter Stuyvesant cigarettes, Paris, Rome, New York and London.

And the passengers?

The Beatles, presidents and movie stars – the jet engine spawned the jet set.

Ronald Reagan ordered his favorite sauce from Los Angeles to be flown to London by jet, when performing in the West End.

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Anybody who was anybody flew on a jet. It was the thing to do. Ship travel as a form of transport collapsed overnight when regular jet services were introduced in 1959.

The 707 inspired the term jet set, penned by famous US syndicated gossip columnist, the late Igor Cassini, to describe the global movements of those who turned their backs on ocean liners for the stratosphere.

It was so dominant it carved a place in popular culture.

The 707 was the inspiration for songs by artists such as Roger Miller, as well as the movie Boeing Boeing, about the problems of a playboy juggling affairs with three flight attendants with the greatly increased speed of the 707.

Jet set
Movie poster of Boeing Boeing avialable from

Advertisements featuring that speed and vibration-free virtues of 707 jet travel abounded.

One Boeing advertisement touted that the speed of the 707 wouldn’t allow time to knit a sweater, while another directed at the US market to France suggested there wasn’t enough time to brush up on your French on the quick trip across the North Atlantic.

Another headlined: “The coin, the watch, and the flower”, (below) maintained that the 707 was so smooth, quiet and fast that you could stand a coin on edge, hear a watch ticking and the corsage that madame purchased would still be fresh after a five-hour flight.

Airlines and passengers alike were swept up in the hype.

New racy uniforms for flight attendants abounded.

Possibly the most bizarre was that of US airline Braniff which created a special Perspex dome for the flight attendant to wear so that her hairstyle would not get blown around as she walked across the tarmac to the aircraft.