rabenschlag
Posts: 1012
Joined: Fri Oct 20, 2000 10:28 pm

Historic Airfares

Sat Sep 24, 2005 7:19 am

Hi all,

I always have an argument with a friend about how expensive flying was in the 50ies, 60ies and 70ies. He lives under the impression that back then, flying was more of a grace than it is today AND that it was more affordable. While I agree with the first assumption, I seriously doubt the second idea. Has anybody an idea where I could find information about what flights would have cost back then? thanks, r.
 
irelayer
Posts: 929
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2005 4:34 pm

RE: Historic Airfares

Sat Sep 24, 2005 8:06 am

You are correct. Flying is one thing that has gotten gradually (and sometimes, in spurts, dramatically) less expensive over the years (unlike most other things like movie tickets, sports events, dining out, concerts, etc...).

Before WWII, flying as a mode of transportation was more of a luxury for the rich and famous. No doubt about it. The DC-3 made short-haul flying affordable for MOST people in the emerging upper middle-class...but long-haul flying was still considered a luxury. The Jet Age made international long-haul flying accessible to the masses, albeit still a luxury. Finally, in the 70's...widebodies+dereg, at least in the US, made flying an affordable luxury for most people. Still not an everyday thing, but enough to make it the dominant mode of transportation if you were going more than 500 miles. Later on in dereg, as pricing power eroded and new entrants came and went, the price of flying decreased further until the late 80's/early '90's when Southwest started to become a national presence and leisure airlines like America West, ATA started to offer reasonable fares to vacation spots. So I would venture to say that right now, flying is accessible to a much greater majority of people than it would have been even 30 years ago, and its definately not because peolpe have gotten richer. Air travel has gotten cheaper.

-IR
 
timz
Posts: 6114
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 1999 7:43 am

RE: Historic Airfares

Sat Sep 24, 2005 8:18 am

December 1950 OAG shows "On Season" Pan American fares NY-Frankfurt $413.90 one way, $745.10 round trip. Same from NY to Copenhagen, Geneva, Oslo. Off Season, $570.10 round trip.

NY-London $375 one way-$675 roundtrip-$500 off season.

Winter roundtrip NY-London $412.50, NY-Frankfurt $471.90.

At that time US domestic tickets had 15% tax added-- dunno if that applied to transatlantic fares.
 
azstar
Posts: 410
Joined: Wed May 11, 2005 5:25 am

RE: Historic Airfares

Sat Sep 24, 2005 8:18 am

Quoting IRelayer (Reply 1):
Air travel has gotten cheaper

That's absolutely correct. The introduction of the 747 in the early 70's put a huge inventory of seats on the market which had to be filled. Prior to that, most people took the train or the bus. Only the wealthiest people flew, or flew regularly.

In the mid 70's, the governing regulatory body in the U.S. , the Civil Aeronautics Board (C.A.B.), stated that excursion fares, or special fares, were discriminatory so airlines could charge only F or Y. I remember paying $140.00 one way from San Francisco to Chicago which was considered cheap at that time since airlines had to lower their Y fare or no one would be able to afford to fly.
 
azstar
Posts: 410
Joined: Wed May 11, 2005 5:25 am

RE: Historic Airfares

Sat Sep 24, 2005 8:22 am

Quoting Timz (Reply 2):
December 1950 OAG shows "On Season" Pan American fares NY-Frankfurt $413.90 one way, $745.10 round trip. Same from NY to Copenhagen, Geneva, Oslo. Off Season, $570.10 round trip.

Bear in mind that the average American salary at that time was probably about $2,000-5,000 per year, so that was a big chunk of change for an airline ticket.
 
gokmengs
Posts: 895
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 2:48 am

RE: Historic Airfares

Sat Sep 24, 2005 8:22 am

Quoting Timz (Reply 2):
December 1950 OAG shows "On Season" Pan American fares NY-Frankfurt $413.90 one way, $745.10 round trip. Same from NY to Copenhagen, Geneva, Oslo. Off Season, $570.10 round trip.

NY-London $375 one way-$675 roundtrip-$500 off season.

Winter roundtrip NY-London $412.50, NY-Frankfurt $471.90.

I'm sure some finance whiz can convert those prices to todays valu(inflation) and it sure would be a lot of money definetly more expensive back then to fly
Gercekleri Tarih Yazar Tarihide Galatasaray
 
Byrdluvs747
Posts: 2377
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2004 5:25 am

RE: Historic Airfares

Sat Sep 24, 2005 8:22 am

Remembering that the minimum wage in 1950 was $0.75
The 747: The hands who designed it were guided by god.
 
timz
Posts: 6114
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 1999 7:43 am

RE: Historic Airfares

Sat Sep 24, 2005 8:27 am

Quoting Azstar (Reply 3):
Prior to [1970], most people took the train or the bus. Only the wealthiest people flew, or flew regularly.

As long as they were paying their own fare, you mean.

And there were many exceptions by, say, 1960. Coach airfare wasn't that much more than train fare by that time. Count the number of trains and the number of flights between San Francisco and Los Angeles, or New York and Chicago.
 
timz
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RE: Historic Airfares

Sat Sep 24, 2005 8:30 am

As I recall, the number of transatlantic air passengers finally matched transatlantic ship passengers in 1958. Maybe some of those ship passengers were afraid to fly, but I imagine most of them liked the cheaper fare.

[Edited 2005-09-24 01:30:34]
 
utapao
Posts: 546
Joined: Sat Jul 09, 2005 10:19 pm

RE: Historic Airfares

Sat Sep 24, 2005 8:36 am

Quoting Gokmengs (Reply 5):
I'm sure some finance whiz can convert those prices to todays valu(inflation) and it sure would be a lot of money definetly more expensive back then to fly

Try an online Inflation Calculator such as: http://www.westegg.com/inflation/

For instance, the r/t NYC-FRA at $745 in 1950 would be approximately $5,775
Sawasdee khrab!
 
stirling
Posts: 3897
Joined: Sat Jun 12, 2004 2:00 am

RE: Historic Airfares

Sat Sep 24, 2005 9:30 am

Quoting Azstar (Reply 3):
I remember paying $140.00 one way from San Francisco to Chicago

In 1975 $140 was equal to $504 2005 dollars.
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rabenschlag
Posts: 1012
Joined: Fri Oct 20, 2000 10:28 pm

RE: Historic Airfares

Sun Sep 25, 2005 12:52 am

Quoting Utapao (Reply 9):
For instance, the r/t NYC-FRA at $745 in 1950 would be approximately $5,775

impressive. but then keep in mind what kind of service and flexibility was offered back then. can we really compare a 1950 pan am NYC-FRA to a discounted economy ticket of today? i do not think so.

and then, if you look up a regular business ticket today, you are pretty close to 5000 dollars.

so this suggests that flying in cattle class is something new and relatively cheap. but good service today appears to be comparably expensive as back then.
 
aa757first
Posts: 3140
Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2003 11:40 am

RE: Historic Airfares

Sun Sep 25, 2005 1:36 am

Quoting Rabenschlag (Reply 11):

impressive. but then keep in mind what kind of service and flexibility was offered back then. can we really compare a 1950 pan am NYC-FRA to a discounted economy ticket of today? i do not think so.

JFK-FRA now is what, $699? You were not getting an extra $5,000 worth the service in 1950. Yes, Lobster Thermador and New York Strip Steak were served for dinner, but it was not that great. Especially early 1970's airfares. They were probably about $2,000 in today's dollars and it was the same 32 inch pitch, a CRT monitor every five asiles and OK food.

AAndrew
 
A999
Posts: 197
Joined: Thu Mar 18, 2004 6:28 am

RE: Historic Airfares

Sun Sep 25, 2005 1:44 am

To compare PanAm offered a RTW ticket LHR-LHR for 998 UK pounds sterling in 1980. Standby First Class was 1248.
 
timz
Posts: 6114
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 1999 7:43 am

RE: Historic Airfares

Sun Sep 25, 2005 6:00 am

More pre-Tourist one-way fares, from the 1/52 ABC:

London-Paris 8.5 pounds or 8400 francs

London-Auckland 285 pounds, via US or via India

London-Johannesburg 175 pounds

London-Glasgow/Edinburgh 8 pounds

IATA said one pound = 2.8 dollars = 980 francs. Round trip = 1.8 times one-way.

[Edited 2005-09-24 23:01:36]
 
SWISSER
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Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2005 11:31 am

RE: Historic Airfares

Sun Sep 25, 2005 6:13 am

I know my dad payed around 14000 BEF or almost 400 EUR for a ticket from Brussels to Paris Orly, and that was already in the 80's!!
What time is top of descent?