How Did People Book Flights Before the Internet

How Did People Book Flights Before the Internet?

In today’s digital era, booking a flight is just a few clicks away. With the advent of the internet, travel websites and online travel agencies have made it convenient to search for flights, compare prices, and book tickets effortlessly. However, before the internet became a household necessity, people had to rely on different methods to book their flights. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and explore how people booked flights before the internet revolutionized the travel industry.

Travel Agents:
Before the internet, travel agents played a crucial role in the flight booking process. These professionals had access to airline schedules, fares, and availability. People would visit a travel agency in person, discuss their travel plans, and the agent would provide various flight options based on the traveler’s preferences. The travel agent would then make reservations on behalf of the customer and issue the necessary tickets. This method ensured that travelers received personalized assistance and expert advice from professionals who were well-versed in the travel industry.

Airline Ticket Offices:
Another way people booked flights before the internet was by visiting airline ticket offices. Airlines had their dedicated ticket offices in different locations, and travelers could directly approach these offices to make their reservations. They would provide their travel details to the airline representative, who would check for flight availability and issue the tickets accordingly. This method allowed travelers to interact directly with the airline and clarify any queries they might have had.

Telephone Reservations:
Booking flights over the phone was also a common practice before the internet. Travelers would call the airline’s reservation hotline, provide their travel details, and the airline representative would assist in finding suitable flights and making the necessary reservations. This method required patience as travelers often had to wait on hold for their turn. Additionally, flight information, such as schedules and fares, was limited to what the airline representative could provide over the phone.

Travel Brochures and Catalogs:
Travel brochures and catalogs were widely used to gather information about different airlines, destinations, and flight options. People would collect these brochures from travel agencies, airline ticket offices, or request them to be mailed directly to their homes. These brochures contained detailed information about airline services, flight schedules, and fares. Travelers would review these materials and make their flight choices accordingly. Once they made a decision, they would visit the travel agency or airline ticket office to book their flights.


Q: Was it more expensive to book flights before the internet?
A: The cost of booking flights before the internet varied. Travel agents often charged a service fee for their assistance, and flight prices were subject to change. However, some argue that the competition among airlines was less intense, resulting in higher fares compared to today.

Q: How did travelers know about flight delays or changes?
A: Travelers usually relied on newspapers, radio announcements, or contacting the airline directly for information regarding flight delays or changes. Airline representatives or travel agents would also inform customers about any changes to their flights.

Q: How far in advance could travelers book flights?
A: The booking window for flights before the internet varied depending on the airline and destination. Generally, travelers could book flights several months in advance, but availability might have been limited for flights too far ahead.

Q: How did travelers receive their tickets?
A: Once the booking was confirmed, travelers could either collect their tickets in person from the travel agency or airline ticket office or have them mailed to their address. Tickets were physical documents that needed to be presented at the airport before boarding.

In conclusion, before the internet, booking flights required personal interactions with travel agents or airline representatives, relying on travel brochures, making phone calls, and visiting ticket offices. While it may have been more time-consuming and required additional effort, these methods provided a personalized touch and allowed travelers to receive expert advice. The internet has undoubtedly revolutionized the way we book flights, making it simpler and more convenient, but it’s essential to appreciate the methods that were once the norm in the travel industry.

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