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Which Came First, First Class Or Coach?  
User currently offlineZrs70 From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 3099 posts, RR: 9
Posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 3916 times:

Not sure of the origin of this one. Once upon a time, there was only one cabin. Did airlines then create a new section for lower fare pax, or did they add a section for higher fare pax?


14 year airliners.net vet! 2000-2013
23 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 24643 posts, RR: 22
Reply 1, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 3892 times:

Quoting Zrs70 (Thread starter):
Not sure of the origin of this one. Once upon a time, there was only one cabin. Did airlines then create a new section for lower fare pax, or did they add a section for higher fare pax?

It was all first class originally. Economy/coach only arrived in the 1950s. Even during the early years of jet service, many 707s and DC-8s operated with about a 50-50 split of F and Y seats. Then Y class gradually took over as the dominant class and F class cabins became much smaller.

[Edited 2009-12-25 18:12:41]

User currently offlineMoose135 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 2291 posts, RR: 10
Reply 2, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 3872 times:

Given air travel in the old days was something of a luxury, and early air service came with many amenities, I suspect it all started as "first class" then lower fare/lower service sections were added later.


KC-135 - Passing gas and taking names!
User currently offlineComorin From United States of America, joined May 2005, 4895 posts, RR: 16
Reply 3, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 3789 times:

Y used to be called 'Tourist' class, Economy came much later.  old 

User currently offlinePlaneguy727 From United States of America, joined Mar 2007, 1235 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 3727 times:

A number of books written about the history of various US airlines discuss the creating of "coach, economy, tourist" class as a way to encourage more people to travel. I know I've read about it in books about UA, DL, AA and others.

It is one of many ideas that were tried to spark additional travelers, just that this one stuck.

Does anyone remember the bring your wife along campaigns aimed at the business traveler? Nope, cause it didn't "stick."



I want to live in an old and converted 727...
User currently offlineTimz From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 6749 posts, RR: 7
Reply 5, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 3699 times:



Quoting Comorin (Reply 3):
Y used to be called 'Tourist' class, Economy came much later.

Coach first appeared on US domestic flights in 1948 or 1949. Tourist was international-only starting in 1952; Economy started on international flights around 1958 (?). The two latter terms were at least halfway official, but the domestic coach service maybe never had an official name?


User currently offlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15692 posts, RR: 26
Reply 6, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 3620 times:

Generally, I think that the order of appearance was First, then Tourist (now coach or economy), Business, and Economy+.


Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlineMariner From New Zealand, joined Nov 2001, 24964 posts, RR: 85
Reply 7, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 3606 times:
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Quoting BMI727 (Reply 6):
Generally, I think that the order of appearance was First, then Tourist (now coach or economy), Business, and Economy+.

Back in the 1930's, if you weren't rich you couldn't afford to fly - as here:

http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1931/1931%20-%200746.html

There are a couple of interesting photos of the interior of an Imperial Airways Hannibal in 1931.  Smile

mariner



aeternum nauta
User currently offlineBohica From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2661 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 3585 times:



Quoting BMI727 (Reply 6):
Generally, I think that the order of appearance was First, then Tourist (now coach or economy), Business, and Economy+.

Several airlines toyed with their Y configurations during the 70's. I remember UA tried a 5-across Y cabin in their DC-8's, and WA had "First class legroom in coach" giving you "Three feet for your two legs." TW had the fold down middle seat (as long as it was empty) and TW also tried removing rows in Y at one time. Of course, none of them stuck at the time and they all went back to basic Y configurations. I will agree that Business class was accepted before Y+ was.


User currently offlineBOACCunard From United States of America, joined Dec 2009, 864 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 6 days ago) and read 3526 times:

First class certainly came first, though I don't really think there was the need to call it anything since there weren't any other classes.

Some airlines also had first and coach/tourist but on separate airplanes (not the same type, coach/tourist usually on an older, less desirable type of airplane).

Quoting Timz (Reply 5):
Coach first appeared on US domestic flights in 1948 or 1949. Tourist was international-only starting in 1952; Economy started on international flights around 1958 (?). The two latter terms were at least halfway official, but the domestic coach service maybe never had an official name?

I think coach was certainly an officially used term and some US airlines even still use it officially today, at least with regard to domestic flying.

However, of course airlines had in some cases their own brand names for these different classes, as some do today - look at BA's Club World/Club Europe or World Traveller/Euro Traveller.

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 6):
Generally, I think that the order of appearance was First, then Tourist (now coach or economy), Business, and Economy+.

There also have been or even are airlines who consider themselves to have merged business and first, or created a class that is somewhere between the two. Certainly, CO's BusinessFirst is of course the most blatant example of this, and DL's BusinessElite is more or less the same concept. However, the first airline I remember claiming that its premium cabin was neither business nor first was VS with Upper Class. WA Transworld Airlines (USA)">TW also had Trans World One, which I think it avoided referring to as business class. I'm not sure if US did or does the same with Envoy Class. NW obviously never did with World Business Class.

Quoting Bohica (Reply 8):
Several airlines toyed with their Y configurations during the 70's. I remember UA tried a 5-across Y cabin in their DC-8's, and WA had "First class legroom in coach" giving you "Three feet for your two legs." WA Transworld Airlines (USA)">TW had the fold down middle seat (as long as it was empty) and WA Transworld Airlines (USA)">TW also tried removing rows in Y at one time.

WA Transworld Airlines (USA)">TW removed rows in the 1990s (or late 1980s?) and renamed Y to Comfort Class. At this time TWA's slogan was "The Most Comfortable Way to Fly."

Then of course there was AA's More Room Throughout Coach, even more recently. And UA still has Economy Plus, which is fairly unique (as distinct from "true" Premium Economy/Economy Plus products).



Getting There is Half the Fun!
User currently offlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15692 posts, RR: 26
Reply 10, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 6 days ago) and read 3502 times:



Quoting BOACCunard (Reply 9):
There also have been or even are airlines who consider themselves to have merged business and first, or created a class that is somewhere between the two. Certainly, CO's BusinessFirst is of course the most blatant example of this, and DL's BusinessElite is more or less the same concept.

That is actually really common. The only US carriers that offer a traditional three class product are United and American, and AA only on their 762 transcons and 777 flights. A*net rumor holds that the F section on AA 777s is often filled with upgrades.

Quoting BOACCunard (Reply 9):
However, of course airlines had in some cases their own brand names for these different classes, as some do today - look at BA's Club World/Club Europe or World Traveller/Euro Traveller.

Here is what I came up with in the other thread.

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 24):
Here are some of the various airline's euphenisms for coach or economy class:
-AeroMexico still calls it tourist.
-Air France has Voyageur.
-Air Pacific calls theirs Pacific Voyager
-BA has Euro Traveller and World Traveller.
-Etihad has Coral class.
-Midwest has Saver class.
-Philippine Airlines has Fiesta Class, though I think that spending a transpacific flight there would not be a fiesta.
-Virgin America refers to it as Main Cabin.

This is not an exhaustive list. And the designations of Y+ offerings are even more interesting. The various airlines toss about monikers like Plus, Comfort, Extra, and Premium to describe their respective offerings.




Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 24643 posts, RR: 22
Reply 11, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 3315 times:



Quoting Mariner (Reply 7):
Back in the 1930's, if you weren't rich you couldn't afford to fly

And much later than the 1930s. Even after tourist class was introduced in 1952 on transatlantic routes, fares were still well beyond the means of most people. Note the following TWA ad (undated but I would guess about 1953), promoting their lowest off-season tourist class fares from the U.S. to Europe. The $425 round trip fare from NYC to London is equivalent to about $3,400 today, and the $198 round trip coast-to-coast fare (that one is quoted as $99 one way in the ad) would be about $1,600 today. No wonder they're advertising their time payment plan. (Click the image to enlaqrge.)

http://i147.photobucket.com/albums/r293/VIEWLINER/080129-2.jpg


User currently offlineMariner From New Zealand, joined Nov 2001, 24964 posts, RR: 85
Reply 12, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 3308 times:
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Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 11):
And much later than the 1930s. Even after tourist class was introduced in 1952 on transatlantic routes, fares were still well beyond the means of most people.

Yes, indeed. I remember being at LHR in 1952/3 and seeing a BOAC ad for LHR-JFK - in the then new tourist class - for £99.

Which was quite a lot of money in those days.

mariner



aeternum nauta
User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 30419 posts, RR: 84
Reply 13, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 3277 times:
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Quoting Planeguy727 (Reply 4):
Does anyone remember the bring your wife along campaigns aimed at the business traveler? Nope, cause it didn't "stick."

Especially when they could instead take UA's all-male "Executive" flights.  Wink

With a load factor of 80-90%, it's kind of surprising UA didn't keep them going, even in the face of NOW and the ERA. Guess the rolling pin is greater than the cigar.  Silly


User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 24643 posts, RR: 22
Reply 14, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 3261 times:



Quoting Planeguy727 (Reply 4):
Does anyone remember the bring your wife along campaigns aimed at the business traveler?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DDIE0lr7Rs


User currently offlineFlyingclrs727 From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 733 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 3219 times:



Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 14):
Quoting Planeguy727 (Reply 4):Does anyone remember the bring your wife along campaigns aimed at the business traveler?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DDIE...lr7Rs

You should read some of the comments on the youtube link. Apparently some of the businessmen were taking along girlfriends instead of their wives.


User currently offlineTango-Bravo From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 3802 posts, RR: 29
Reply 16, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 3184 times:



Quoting Timz (Reply 5):
Coach first appeared on US domestic flights
in 1948 or 1949. Tourist was international-only starting in 1952

...and when coach class was first introduced, it was very often if not invariably offered only on flights during off-peak hours. Later, well within the era of rigidly regulated fares, there were Yn (night coach) fares at lower cost than standard Y (day coach) fares...although the difference was much less than one might anticipate based on the ludicrous "roller coaster" fluctuations of coach fares today.

For some time, at least during the regulated era of the jet age, for pax booking in first class, there were also Fn and standard F fares, based on flight departure time. IIRC, seems that 'n' (night) F or Y fares applied on departures before 0600 or after 21000, give or take.

On international flights, Tourist (class)-only flights were offered by a number of prominent airlines, often with older (slower) propeller types and later, during the early jet age, on piston-powered airliners still in service rather than jets.


User currently offlineSpacecadet From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 3594 posts, RR: 12
Reply 17, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 3152 times:



Quoting Timz (Reply 5):
but the domestic coach service maybe never had an official name?

I still have UA ticket stubs from the 1980's that specifically say "COACH" under "CLASS".



I'm tired of being a wanna-be league bowler. I wanna be a league bowler!
User currently offlineAviopic From Netherlands, joined Mar 2004, 2681 posts, RR: 42
Reply 18, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 3113 times:



Quoting Moose135 (Reply 2):
Given air travel in the old days was something of a luxury

Just don't take "luxury" to serious, not in the 20-ties anyway.  Smile
First aircraft KL used for intercontinental flights from The Netherlands to Indonesia.

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Willem Honders



Somewhere halfway the 30-ties these flights were taken over by the DC2.
Still very expensive and only feasible for the upper class.

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Willem Honders


Over the years I've accumulated some 30 hours in one of those seats and although much more comfy than the F.VII still one should not take "luxury" to serious.

Late 50-ties and early 60-ties flying became more feasible for the ordinary crowd with something we now call "coach".

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Willem Honders


Even though flying became much cheaper the level of luxury did not degrade but grew to a higher standard.
With wide comfy seats and compared by todays standard an enormous amount of leg room.

In other words, "coach" some years ago is not the same as the "cattle" class you'll find in modern European airliners like LH, AF/KL etc.



The truth lives in one’s mind, it doesn’t really exist
User currently offlineBOACCunard From United States of America, joined Dec 2009, 864 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 3051 times:



Quoting Aviopic (Reply 18):
Just don't take "luxury" to serious, not in the 20-ties anyway.

Luxury can also simply mean something that is expensive and only available to a select few.

In this case it was (relative) speed that was what made flying attractive to those select few who could afford it, not the on-board experience.



Getting There is Half the Fun!
User currently offlineBohica From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2661 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 2983 times:



Quoting Stitch (Reply 13):
Guess the rolling pin is greater than the cigar.

It's scarier now because women learned how to use golf clubs.  duck 


User currently offlineJetjeanes From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 1430 posts, RR: 1
Reply 21, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 5 days ago) and read 2929 times:

Oh remember Southern Airways they would run those dc-9,s in an all one class configuration.
I thought at one time Wn did as well but it has been a while since ive flown them. It seems they were all leather seats. Todays coach seem more cramped and the seats seem smaller than in days past



i can see for 80 miles
User currently offlineBOACCunard From United States of America, joined Dec 2009, 864 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 2888 times:



Quoting Jetjeanes (Reply 21):
I thought at one time Wn did as well but it has been a while since ive flown them.

You thought WN did what as well?

WN has always been a one-class airline. I would consider that one class to be economy.



Getting There is Half the Fun!
User currently offlineTango-Bravo From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 3802 posts, RR: 29
Reply 23, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 2798 times:



Quoting Jetjeanes (Reply 21):
Oh remember Southern Airways they would run those dc-9,s in an all one class configuration.

...which was a common practice among the U.S. feeder/local service/regional airlines well into the era (from ~1966) when they started jet service with 737, DC-9 and BAC 1-11 equipment. With Allegheny (later to become USAir, then US Airways), for example, every seat on their DC-9-31s was "Jet Custom Class." Besides Southern's DC-9s being configured in one class of service, it was the same with North Central and Ozark (DC-9s) as well as Piedmont (737s) and probably most if not all of the rest of the airlines in the same classification.

It was only after deregulation, when the U.S. regionals decided to "run with the big boys" that some introduced separate first or business class cabins, seemingly with mixed results. While some retained first class cabins on their jets, others soon reverted back to single class service that might best be described as deluxe coach...somewhat superior to 'typical' coach service, not-quite-up-there with business class.

Speaking of Southern's one-class DC-9 service, there are some creative -- and entertaining -- TV ads featuring "Nobody's Second Class on Southern" that can be viewed from the link below by going to the lower left corner of the screen to "Southern Airways TV Commercials" and selecting from the 3 ads listed:

http://southernairways.org/new_mag1.htm

...and while there, check out "SO M404" under "Southern Airways Music" ...may well be the most creative and entertaining song about airliners ever composed!


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