Vintage Luggage Tags

I recently got back from 8 weeks away in the US directing my first documentary film, called Driven, check it out. Anyway, we covered over 4000 miles of US roads (it’s a roadtrip documentary) but also by air. Now that I’ve flown home to London, it seemed like an ideal time to do a “catch up” post about “travel”– specifically about airline luggage tags, with a vintage slant.

Last year I stumbled across an old collection of my father’s personal luggage tags in a drawer. He was on the road (or in the air) a lot during his career, and as someone who had a very romantic notion of travel (as do I) he kept loads of his tickets, tags, slips, etc. He loved trains for the very same reason.

Anyway, here’s a random selection from dad’s collection. I love the random typographic combos that result from airport code names: YYZ (my hometown Toronto), BEY, YAM, YOW, as well as the colour combos that likely resulted from available card and ink colours more than anything.  Amazing how many of these airlines are no longer around. Below is an oh-so-boring, computer printed, modern luggage tag – mine from my trip back to LHR from ABQ via DFW (I miss all that colour).

Check out this cool fabric design, created by Nadia Hassan of Surly Bird Studio inspired by my luggage tags. Nice one Nadia.

24 Comments on “Vintage Luggage Tags

  1. wicked, Madman!
    I do have a particular fondness for the YYZ. More than just a Neil Peart – Alex Lifeson instrumental. And coincidentally from an album called Moving Pictures, which is what travel and your movie is about. I think it should be used while credits roll in one of your future films. I wonder why Canada got the Ys? Maybe because it is the polite, understated vowel, only stepping up to be a vowel when required, and otherwise shunning the spotlight.

  2. I love the Avianca tag and the HILARIOUS instruction, “Kindly emplane here.” Just in case you were confused and were planning to board the luggage trolley….


    Welcome back, J– can’t wait to hear the stories and see the footage!

  3. Pingback: Tanlup - Blog » Dicas de Sucesso Tanlup: Aprendendo a usar as tags de produto

  4. Thank you for this… I bought her fabric and followed the trail to your blog.
    Thank you for this post…I have a deep fondness for these things…and will be making my son a t-shirt from her fabric. Blessings x

  5. These are amazing Jonathan – makes me think I should be collecting more ephemera – not for myself, but for the future.

    I’m looking for some background textures for my travel blog header. Would it be OK to lift a couple of these??? Cheers…

    • Hey Christian, thanks for your comment. These old luggage tags are really cool, aren’t they. It helps when one’s parents keep such things from their own past, that are eventually given to us.
      Yes, please go ahead and use some for your header. If you want to credit GraphicDefiner as a source somewhere, that would be appreciated.

    • Hey there,
      Hmmm, no they didn’t ask permission. I was contacted by a texture designer who wanted to create some artwork “based” on my lugguage tags, but this t-shirt is a complete steal.
      They’ve used the actual tags but changed the airport code letters. The dates on the bottoms of each are all the same as mine! I will contact them. Thanks for the tip.

  6. Pingback: Vintage Souvenir Penants (Part 1) |

  7. My autistic son collects airline tags and is interested in knowing if you would sell him the Braniff to Mexico City and the North Central to Milwaukee tags from this grouping. I await your reply. Thank you.

  8. Hi Jonathan!
    Your graphic is really cool! Is it ok if I used them on my travel blog? Of course I will mention your site as a source and link your blog:)

  9. Really interesting tags, sadly they don’t make ’em like that anymore. I’d love to use them in a collage piece on masonite. If you’re ok with it, I’ll show it to you when I’m done. Thx.

  10. Pingback: 5 Cute and Clever Luggage Tags for the Jet Set Crowd | Cirrus Aviation

  11. Hi, would you mind if I use your tag images for an internal presentation at work (with proper creds)? I’m trying to give life to a very dry PowerPoint! Thx.

  12. Hello! I, too, would love to use your tags on my travel blog (still in development) . I will definitely credit you and link back to your work. Would you be ok with that? Thanks so much for your consideration of my request!

    Kind Regards

  13. Very great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have truly
    enjoyed browsing your weblog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing for your rss feed and I hope you write again very soon!

  14. I am so pleased to find there are are other people out there that collect ephemera like luggage tags and photograph them! They tell a story for certain! I would like to use your fantastic image of vintage luggage tags for a free lesson I’m creating on elapsed time for 3rd graders. I’ll give full credit to you for the image! I’m a Master Teacher with the National Education Association/ Better Lesson Next Master Teacher project and I’m developing 181 lessons around the new national math standards. Most of my students aren’t able to travel on planes much so I wanted to give them a larger sense of the world. Please let me know if you need further information, and if I may use your great image! Your blog is really interesting! Thanks!

    • Hi Jennifer,

      Thanks for your email. I’m amazed how popular this post has been. The luggage tags were my fathers from the 1970s when he did a lot of business travel to exotic places in the world (India, Iran, Lebanon, etc) and people seem to love seeing them. I’ve had so much interest in them. I think they really evoke a bygone era of travel, before barcodes and digital printers made luggage tags all look the same the world over.

      You can definitely use them for your class, and any credit would be much appreciated.

      You can grab the images right from the blog post if you wish, or if you need them sent directly, let me know.

  15. Hey there would you mind letting me know which webhost you’re working with?

    I’ve loaded your blog in 3 different web browsers and I must say
    this blog loads a lot quicker then most.
    Can you suggest a good hosting provider at a reasonable
    price? Many thanks, I appreciate it!

    • Hi there,

      Thank for your note about the loading and my blog being fast.

      To be honest, I have no idea. Its WordPress, so is being hosted by WordPress.
      It could be the template that it’s built on – maybe it only loads a few images at a time, rather than the whole wack, which could really slow down loading.

      My images also aren’t very large. I intentionally size them down before uploading to my blog – mainly so they are al lthe same size, and it looks tidy, but also for quick loading.

      Anyway, hope that sheds some light.

      Good luck

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