• 06.28.13

An iPhone Flight App Straight Out Of The Pan Am Era

A new app called Flying aims for convenience but also hopes to bring back some of the wonder to air travel.

When you strip away the hassle of security checks, lost luggage, inevitable delays, and that dope next to you who won’t stop hogging the armrest, air travel is amazing. We step into a winged metal tube, launch into the atmosphere, and arrive in a different country hours later. The developers of a new app called Flying hope to re-instill the process with nostalgic wonder and a heap of helpful data.


Flying began as part of a course on graphical user interfaces at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, then evolved into a streamlined and fun social flight tracker. The app handles core services, like flights, delays, gate changes, and cancellations. But social elements are also built into the experience, meaning it’s easy to share details with a friend, say, who’s waiting for you at the arrivals gate.

“Air travel has become cold and impersonal, and we think it’s really important to bring in something that is not only useful but which also helps better the experience,” co-founder Andrew Spitz tells Co.Design. (Spitz spent the past year developing the project along with coeds Markus Schmeiduch, Katie Kindinger, Panos Meyer, Sebastian Schuster, and Johannes Lerch.)

Flying’s quest to counter the “cold and impersonal” manifests through every bit of its graphic design, which has been created as a “digital jet set”–a streamlined interface that still captures some of the romance of the Pan Am*­ era. The typeface is as sharp as a freshly pressed captain’s uniform, but at the same time, users can collect “stamps” that were actually designed by hand to mimic the inky goodness of real-life passports. Skeumorphic? Sure, but they’re also an effective way to translate that tangible nostalgic excitement to the screen (check out a video on the process here). Meanwhile, the Flying team is working on a variety of physical goods inspired by specific journeys, such as Loci, to be 3-D representations of your itinerary.

All in all, Flying is a well-considered attempt to give old-school journeys a tech-based update for the modern era. Now if only it could figure out how to seat me next to a handsome stranger.

* I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that my mom was a stewardess for the iconic carrier in the early 1970s, and her headshot is pretty sweet–check out that bowler!

Click here to download the app. Safe travels!