Iconic US Airlines That No Longer Fly

Many airlines roam the skies of America, there used to be a whole lot more, but what happened to these once glorious airlines? Read on to find out!

1. Pan American World Airways

Case Study: Pan Am 6005
Credit: Code 7700 (A Pan Am 707 parked)

This one is an absolute classic, Pan Am, as it’s informally known, was the star of the skies above the USA and the world. It was deemed as the unofficial flag carrier of the US. But in December 1991, it shut down. Pan Am had been struggling for a while, after the USA was sanctioned in the 1980s by oil rich nations like Saudi Arabia, as the USA were supporting Israel in the war. Fuel prices became too expensive for Pan Am to cope with, especially with their growing fleet of 747 aircraft which were not fuel efficient. Pan American used to be the classic flying experience of the 1950s-1980s, the exotic destinations, legendary service and luxury cabins, above its competitors made it the way to go. Read more about Pan Am’s former glory below.

2. Trans World Airlines (TWA)

N650TW Trans World Airlines (TWA) Boeing 767-205 Photo by PEDRO ARAGÃO | ID  1016326 | Planespotters.net
Credit: Planespotters.net (A TWA 767 taxiing)

Another great airline, Pan Am’s largest rival. Trans World Airlines, like Pan Am, flew into a storm cloud full of financial troubles. Trans World Airlines would have survived, possibly until the 2010s if it weren’t for the multiple bumps along the way. Trans World Airlines, no matter how hard they tried, could not get rid of the constant hijackings that their aircraft were experiencing as well as the multiple fatal crashes and accidents that were happening. TWA’s final blow was on July 17th 1996, when TWA flight 800 exploded over Long Island, New York. All 230 on board, including 212 passengers and 18 crew members were killed.

3. Braniff International Airways

Braniff International Airways, Boeing 747-200B | LAX March, … | Flickr
Credit: Flickr (A Braniff 747 in the ‘Big Orange’ livery)

Braniff International was a lesser known, luxury airline in the USA, was founded in 1928 and didn’t really rise to fame until the 1960s, late 1970s. Braniff International was famous for its bright and colourful exteriors, especially the orange and pink. Braniff used to fly the 747, the 727 and even the Concorde that flew between their home base, Dallas and Washington. Braniff was one of the USA’s fastest growing airlines but it took the wrong turn, it cut its fares shockingly, to attract more customers, this did not work in their favour as it caused them to pile on with growing debt. Eventually the airline liquidated, but its subsidiaries kept flying.


  • CNN Travel
  • BBC News
  • Wikipedia
  • Simple flying
  • AirlineGeeks (Cover Image)

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