Air travel is essential to global business, and has become commonplace for many people around the world.
But, back in the 1950s and ’60s, it became a post-war boom luxury, affordable for the fist time, and a welcome alternative to travelling by sea.
This increased connectivity was one of the most important developments of the 20th Century, which allowed the world come become increasingly connected, strengthening economic and cultural ties.
Qantas, Australia’s national carrier, shared these photos from their archive, which show what it was like for passengers in “tourist class”, which the airline introduced in the mid-1950s.
It was the first time Australians could use a plane to travel overseas at affordable rates. Prior to this all air travel was first class only.
The tourist class fares were introduced from mid-1954 along with the Super Constellation aircraft which was the first Qantas aircraft large enough to support multi-class cabin configurations.
Qantas’ Super Constellation aircraft could fly up to 60 passengers
This is what flight attendants wore between 1948 and 1959, which is the period in which tourist class -- the forerunner of economy -- was introduced
Here's an advertisement for tourist class.
A return Sydney to London tourist class fare (via Singapore) was 430 Pounds compared to 592 Pounds for the first class fare.
Qantas says its early flights between Sydney and London took 3 days.
Today, most people make themselves as comfortable as possible when flying long distances. Back then, everyone looked sharp
These passengers are eating a meal in this photo from the 1960s. It would want to impress. Qantas says 60 years ago, a one-way airfare to London was the cost of the average Australian’s 6-month salary.
Today, you can fly into London for around the same amount as the average Australian fortnightly salary
This brochure shows all the locations passengers could spend a few days en route to London. Air travel was a relatively new experience for a lot of people, and many wanted to see as much of the world as possible once they forked out for the ticket.
Notice, the ad makes it clear the stopovers are at no additional cost. You could easily continue your journey once you had spent some time in your desired destination.
This advertisement, from 1956, shows how much a traveller needed to pay for each destination in Qantas' network.
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