New book maps out the changing face of 100 years of passenger flights

  • Date

    Wed 4 Dec 19

airline book cover

The changing face of airline map design over the past 100 years has been captured in a lavishly illustrated new book by a University of Essex academic.

In the early years of scheduled passenger flights, service maps were designed to advertise the allure of flying, with vibrant colours and illustrations. However, as air travel has become more common, maps are now more simple and sparse. 

Dr Maxwell Roberts, from the Department of Psychology, has come together with Mark Ovenden to produce, Airline Maps: A Century of Art and Design, which records the development of airline map design. Published by Penguin, the book has been shortlisted in the illustrated travel book of the year category of the Edward Stanford Travel Writing awards. Winners will be announced at a ceremony at the London Transport Museum on 26 February 2020.

Dr Roberts hopes to inspire graphic designers to start making airline maps more creative again. He said: “I’d hope people reading this book will start to see that years ago people actually made an effort to make something wonderful out of passenger flights. Things could be better, and they should be better, and by taking that message to the general public that could raise their expectations.” 

Dr Roberts researched airline maps from around the world and has gathered the very best of them for this book: “I got a massive urge to show people how much diversity and gorgeous design there is out there.” 

He has previously had two books on London Underground maps published, and a third is due out shortly. 

This story was written by journalism student Jessica Day-Parker while she was on placement in the communications office