A natural companion to the point you're making here might be ribbonfarm's explication of the future nauseous. Indeed, air travel is cited as a prime example of the future nauseous, where—in spite of the fundamental alien weirdness of hurtling through the atmosphere at 600 mph—airlines cloak the experience in "a manufactured normalcy field" by doing things like controlling climb rates, setting bank angles, and prescribing acceleration profiles. The sum of these controls is to take what's essentially un-human and un-cognizable and render it familiar and digestible. How do maps fit in? I'm not sure, but if the theory of the future nauseous holds water, then my hunch is that the airline maps derive their particular look and format from the necessity of maintaining the manufactured normalcy field.