#TBT: A Look Back at Sleeper Seats in the 1950s

Aug 10, 2017

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Before sleeper seats were the norm, they were a novelty. That was at the dawn of the Jet Age in the 1950s, when air travel became more affordable and airlines began adding to their route maps. In 1958, the Boeing 707 — the airplane commonly thought as the first viable commercial jet — began flying between New York and London. But it had actually been beaten by British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), a state-owned airline created in 1940, which introduced the Comet 4, its first transatlantic jet, between London and New York a few months earlier.

While the 707 went on to rule the market, at the time the Comet was considered to be one of the most premium commercial airplanes. In this throwback photo, taken 59 years ago this month, passengers are seen relaxing on the sleeper seats in the new Comet 4 during a demonstration flight at Hatfield. While we’re certainly impressed by the chic attire and comfy-looking pillows, the look back also proves just how far the state of lie-flat seating has come.

28th August 1958: Passengers relaxing on the sleeper seats in the new Comet 4 during a demonstration flight at Hatfield. The plane, which is fitted out in accordance with an interior decor scheme designed for BOAC aircraft by Gaby Schreiber, flew from New York to London in under six and a half hours. (Photo by Douglas Miller/Keystone/Getty Images)
August 28, 1958: The Comet 4, fitted out in accordance with an interior decor scheme designed for BOAC aircraft by Gaby Schreiber, flew from New York to London in under six and a half hours. (Photo by Douglas Miller/Keystone/Getty Images).
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