25 Defining Moments in the Past 50 Years of Travel

From the launch of the Concorde to the start of Airbnb.

A photo collage of airplanes and technology with the Disney World and Mesa Verde National Park images
Photo: Photos: Getty Images

As Travel + Leisure is celebrating its golden anniversary, we as editors spent months digging through the archives. We found nostalgic ads, incredible covers, iconic contributors (Slim Aarons, Authur Miller, Joan Didion, Julia Child, and many more), but also noticed how much the travel industry has changed since 1971. Read on to see the 25 events that have affected the way we travel forever.

Travel + Leisure magazine covers from 1971, 1947, 1976
From left: The first Travel + Leisure magazine from 1971; A cover from 1947; 1976. Travel + Leisure

1971: Travel + Leisure was established

1971: Southwest airlines took to the skies

Mickey Mouse (center) with Disney World cast members on opening day of Walt Disney World in 1971.
NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

1971: Walt Disney World opened

1972: Rolling luggage patent awarded

The French-British supersonic jet Concorde 002 is seen at Dallas Fort Worth airport on September 20, 1973 after its first flight to the USA, during the opening ceremony of the new airport.
AFP via Getty Images

1973: Launch of Concorde

1974: The first hotel minibar was installed at the Hong Kong Hilton

Close-up View of Modern Access to a Room with aa Inserting Card Key on the Doorknob
Getty Images

1974: Invention of the electronic hotel key

1974: GPS patent awarded

A photograph of the first digital camera by Steven Sasson for Kodak
Courtesy of Eastman Kodak Company

1975: The first digital camera was invented

]Mesa Verde National Park (UNESCO World Heritage List, 1978). Dwellings of The Anasazi Indians
DEA/C.DANI/I.JESKE/De Agostini via Getty Images

1978: The first 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites were announced

1988: Royal Caribbean International launched the first "megaship"

Fall of the Berlin Wall 1989
Andreas von Lintel/ullstein bild via Getty Images

1989: Berlin Wall falls

1991: The closure of Pan Am

Rhein-Main-Donau-Kanal im bayerischen Kehlheim im August 1992
Claus Felix/picture alliance via Getty Images

1992: Opening of the Rhine-Main-Danube canal — a catalyst for river cruising

1996: Launch of Expedia

No Smoking Sign in Airplane
Steven Puetzer/Getty Images

1998: The Federal Aviation Administration banned smoking on all U.S. planes

Airport travelers pass through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners May 26, 2004 at the Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

2001: 9/11

2003: Concorde's last flight

2005: Google Maps were established

2008: American Airlines became the first major airline to begin charging for luggage

The Airbnb website is displayed on a laptop on April 21, 2014 in San Anselmo, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

2008: Airbnb hit the web

2008: Terminal 5 launched at Heathrow

This picture taken on March 8, 2014 shows military personnel scanning the sea aboard a Vietnamese Air Force aircraft taking part in a search mission for a missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft, somewhere between Malaysia's east coast and southern Vietnam.
STR/AFP via Getty Images

2014: The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

2019: Longest non-stop flight: JFK to Singapore (18 hours and 40 minutes)

Medical Personnel help load passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship onto airplanes at Oakland International Airport in Oakland, California on March 10, 2020.
JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images

2020: Coronavirus lockdowns

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles