Hawaii By Air

Speed and Comfort

New aircraft were making air travel more affordable and appealing. Douglas DC-4 landplanes replaced flying boats after World War II. But airlines soon introduced a succession of new aircraft that could fly higher and faster and carry greater numbers of passengers in pressurized, high-altitude comfort.

Honolulu Airport Terminal

People await the arrival of a plane at Honolulu International Airport.

John Rogers Airport in Honolulu, named after the commander of the first attempt to fly to Hawaii, was mostly a cleared field with a coral runway when it opened in 1927. By 1951, when it was renamed Honolulu International Airport, it was the third busiest airport in the United States.

Douglas DC-6B near Diamond Head

United and Northwest began flying to Hawaii with the Douglas DC-6, and later the slightly longer and more economical DC-6B.

United DC-7 Baggage Sticker

United introduced the new and faster DC-7 to its Hawaii routes in 1955.

Dawn-to-Dusk Flight Passengers

To promote its new daily, nonstop New York–San Francisco DC-7 service, United invited a planeload of journalists to take the first one-day "dawn-to-dusk" flight from New York to San Francisco to Honolulu, on May 24, 1954.

Dawn-to-Dusk Flight Passenger List
Dawn-to-Dusk Flight Log

The Luxurious Boeing 377 Stratocruiser

The double-deck Stratocruiser harkened back to Pan Am's clipper flying boats of the 1930s. You couldn't beat it for roominess, comfort, and luxury. Blunt-nosed and pot-bellied, yet modern and elegant, it graced many an airline poster in the 1950s.

It was bigger than any airliner yet made and could fly higher, faster, and farther. Although pricier than other planes, passengers loved it. But like the great flying boats, its reign was short-lived.

"Your 'Hotel in the Sky'
Unequalled luxury and room to spare aboard this Newest Clipper!"
Pan Am brochure

Northwest Airlines Stratocruiser Postcard
Boeing 377 Stratocruiser Cutaway Drawing

The large and roomy Stratocruiser was a favorite with passengers. Take a look at this cutaway drawing. Can you find...

  • sleeping berths
  • dressing rooms
  • galley (kitchen)
  • lower-deck lounge
  • a private luxury compartment
Pan Am Stratocruiser Brochure Cover
Pan Am Stratocruiser Brochure

This brochure highlighted Pan Am's new Stratocruiser.

Boeing 377 Stratocruiser Seating

Seats were roomy and comfortable. The curved structures that look like overhead bins contain sleeping berths.

Boeing 377 Stratocruiser Berths

On the overnight flight to Hawaii, sets of seats could be converted into lower double berths roomier than those on a train. Upper single berths were lowered from above. Curtains offered privacy.

Boeing 377 Stratocruiser Lounge

The lounge had a bar where people could buy a cocktail or soft drink. Its cozy benches, arranged in a U, could seat 14 adults. Any passenger could visit, but they were encouraged to be considerate and not overstay their welcome.

Boeing 377 Stratocruiser Dressing Room

Separate men's and women's dressing rooms provided a place for passengers to prepare for sleep or the dawning day.