Pan Am

Updated: Oct 3, 2019

The Story of our Pitstop Bag.

We designed our Pitstop bag in homage to the original Pan Am flight bag, probably the most loved example in the retro bag game. The collapse of Pan Am in 1991 led to a resurgence of interest in these bags during the ironic nineties. Long before Ebay leveled the playing field this was the holy grail of charity shop finds and genuine versions were given almost mythical status.


Airline bags were first given out to passengers in the 1930's when longer haul travel necessitated 'carry on' luggage large enough to take the personal effects of passengers to see them through the often-overnight flight. By the 1950's luggage manufacturers sensing a large market began to acquire the licences to produce these branded bags. During the 60's Pan Am gave out its flight bags free to first class passengers at check-in. Carrying a Pan Am bag became synonymous with a privileged lifestyle becoming a chic status symbol, identifying its owner as a member of the desirable jet set.


By the 70's lower fares meant that more and more people could afford to fly and the production of airline bags was at its peak. Fast forward to the current day and many authentic versions of the Pan Am bag are still available - Ebay is full of them as sellers realise there's money to be made from Granny's loft. To further muddy the waters there are also many, many licensed reproductions of the Pan Am bags available. And while we still have a soft spot for that royal-blue globe the proliferation meant that - for us - the prestige was long gone.


We based the Pitstop on an early 60's Pan Am flight bag. It's perfect size and proportions meant that it had been subject to many other interpretations since. However, we still had yet to find a version that we loved, one that was built to last and better yet, one which would improve with age.


And so the Pitstop bag was born. Our homage to the golden age of travel, one of smartly dressed globe-trotters jetsetting off to exotic climes. When flying was a still luxurious, glamorous affair, long before orange fleece was a twinkle in Easy Jets eye and the need for low-cost, cattle-class fares took hold.

For a potted history of the airline bag the SFOM’s notes from their 2013 exhibition 'Jet Set Carry-On: The Design, Branding, and Appeal of the Airline Flight Bag' are pretty good and can be found here.