Christian Nolle

Direction of Travel


Direction of Travel is newspaper devoted to airline maps. Each Volume includes a different selection of airlines who are either aligned or opposed geographically, graphically or politically.

From the introduction to Volume 1

Welcome to the first Volume of Direction of Travel, a newspaper that explores the visual history of airline route maps. We start with two of the most prolific publishers, United Airlines and American Airlines.

Airline route maps were published by the airlines and left for passengers to explore while flying across the world. They were often beautifully designed and illustrated providing an overview of the airline’s route network and the destinations it served, occasionally accompanied by detailed information of the cities you were flying over. They are a reminder of a past where airlines were publishers. These maps eventually migrated into the back pages of the inflight magazine we all know.

No airline to our knowledge publishes stand alone maps any more, the reason probably being a combination of the continuous change of their route network and the increased use of onboard technology.

Paper maps are not flat graphics but have folds and creases, they carry the marks of their use. The newspaper format allows us to reproduce the maps as big as we can, while retaining a sense of their material. Most of the maps we have selected here have held up surprisingly well considering their age and is a testament to their enduring quality.

Volume 1

The first volume includes maps by American Airlines and United Airlines.

Volume 2

The second volume looks at map made by three extinct European airlines: British European Airways (Which became British Airways when it merged with B.O.A.C), Interflug from East Germany and Sabena from Belgium

Volume 3

The third volume looks at Alitalia and Swissair and their stark in style, even though they are from two countries only separated by the alps.


Volumes of the newspaper are part of the permanent collection at San Francisco Airport Museum and the British Airways Heritage Centre.