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SFO museum's amenities exhibit transports you to airlines' golden age

SFO Museum display showcases vintage airline amenities.

Airline toiletry kits and lie-flat seats? Those aren't modern innovations. Just take a look at the items in San Francisco's airport museum.

This quirky look at the past will transport you to the days when airline travel was fun. (Yes, there were such days.)

In the 1940s and '50s, planes could travel farther and farther, and airlines offered more comforts to keep pace with the emerging technology. In the 1950s, for instance, Lufthansa was tucking passengers in on what looked more like beds than seats.

SFO Museum, which is part of the airport, has assembled vintage airline amenities in an exhibition called "Remain Over Night." Indeed, the show's signature photo shows an ad with a man in full suit stretched out and sleeping with a TWA pillow beneath his head.

R.O.N., the acronym for Remain Over Night, meant grooming kits that included shavers, combs, toothbrush and toothpaste, shoe polish and other personal items. Blankets, towels, soaps, sleep masks and socks also made their debut -- similar to items offered today on long-haul flights.

The display includes a Pan-Am World Airways travel alarm clock from the 1950s and personal soaps from such airlines as Braniff (which had three incarnations, the last one tapering off in 1992), TWA (it merged with American in 2001) and Continental (merged with United and became one in March 2012) airlines. There's a lot of good aviation history about the evolution of airlines and longer flights.

The exhibition is installed at the pre-security departures Level 2 of Terminal 1 and will remain on display through September. There's also a separate display at the Aviation Museum & Library on vintage airline luggage labels, bag tags and tickets. It's on pre-security departures Level 3 and continues through October.

Check out all SFO Museum exhibitions online if you're flying in or out -- or just want to visit.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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