contact us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right.

Keep in Touch

You can sign up for our infrequent but fascinating emails by clicking here.

         

123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789

email@address.com

 

You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.

The Jet Age Art Blog

Occasional essays or interesting information by Chris Bidlack, related (mostly) to the Jet Age and the Golden Era of commercial Aviation.

Flight Insurance Kiosks and the Jet Age

Chris Bidlack

Travel Insurance Kiosks at Detroit’s Willow Run Airport, 1954. Part of the “Old News” collection at the Ann Arbor District Library. ( https://aadl.org/N186_0087_007 )

Travel Insurance Kiosks at Detroit’s Willow Run Airport, 1954. Part of the “Old News” collection at the Ann Arbor District Library. (https://aadl.org/N186_0087_007)

While researching the fight insurance angle for my TGA (“Airport” movie) Ticket Package assembly, I discovered a rich, although brief history of airport flight insurance sales. It all started with the “Great Lakes Fidelity” Airline Trip Insurance Receipt I had to design, as a major component of the overall ticket package, as fans of the “Airport” movie or novel know.

My design of a fictional “Great Lakes Fidelity” Airline Trip Insurance Receipt.

My design of a fictional “Great Lakes Fidelity” Airline Trip Insurance Receipt.

Flight insurance vending machines and booths were a very common sight at airports throughout the 1950s and 1960s, with the larger US insurance companies raking in semi-big bucks.

Although not dwelled-upon in the 1970 movie, in the novel Airport, Arthur Hailey's character, Capt. Vernon Demerest, is a staunch opponent of flight insurance availability at airports. As Haley wrote, Capt. Demerest thought that…

"…airport insurance vending...was a ridiculous, archaic hangover from flying's early days. The very presence of insurance booths and machines, their prominence in airport concourses, were insults to commercial aviation, which had a finer safety record, in relation to miles traveled, than any other form of transportation.

"...Demerest had prepared his case thoroughly. Using charts and graphs, he demonstrated that well known in-flight disasters caused by bombings and other acts of violence averaged one and one half per year. Motives varied, but a consistent, prevalent cause was financial gain from flight insurance... He named classic incidents: Canadian Pacific Airlines, 1949 and 1965; Western Airlines, 1967; National Airlines, 1960 and a suspected sabotage in 1959; two Mexican airlines, 1952 and 1953; Venezuelan Airlines, 1960; Continental Airlines, 1962; Pacific Air Lines, 1964; United Air Lines, 1950, 1955, and a suspected sabotage in 1965."

And Hailey wrote this about his story's mad bomber:

"D.O. Guerrero had had this plan in mind for several months while his fortunes were worsening. During that time he studied carefully the histories of air disasters where airliners were destroyed by individuals seeking to profit from flight insurance. The number of instances was surprisingly large."

In the real world, airline pilots in the late 1950s and early 1960s were vocally opposed to flight insurance machines and kiosks at airports. After a bomber killed 44 people on United Air Lines Flight 629 in 1955, Colorado banned airport insurance vending machines, but other than that one legislative action, there would be no further outlawing of the practice in the United States.

Over the years, flight insurance kiosks and machines at airports mostly just faded away, as travelers grew accustomed to air safety, and insurance from other sources reduced the need and sales of flight insurance at airports.

An intact airport flight insurance vending machine in the collection of the    Smithsonian's "America By Air" online exhibit   .

An intact airport flight insurance vending machine in the collection of the Smithsonian's "America By Air" online exhibit.