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Re: How did Airlines Fill up Large Widebodies in the Old days?

Posted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 2:21 pm
by exFWAOONW
CB
I would opine it was exactly the opposite. Airlines were operating state of the art IT systems to book reservations. UA even had a computer system for air freight in the 70s. They don’t come cheap. Back in the 90s, I was told, it cost my employer one cent every time the enter/transmit key was pressed to pay for dedicated phone line and computer main-frame time.
Airlines spent a lot on the “back-office” functions. They had rooms full of people just reconciling flight coupons, rooms full of accountants, buildings full of res agents, etc. Now, with better/faster computers, it’s takes a lot less people to do those functions.

Re: How did Airlines Fill up Large Widebodies in the Old days?

Posted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:31 pm
by slcdeltarumd11
1.they didn't but fuel was much cheaper so less of an issue and fares were higher
2.they didn't offer the frequency we see now

Re: How did Airlines Fill up Large Widebodies in the Old days?

Posted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 6:32 pm
by crjflyboy
They bellies were full of freight … their was no FED EX, DHL, etc … cargo was huge in the 60's and 70's … now it is minor

Re: How did Airlines Fill up Large Widebodies in the Old days?

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:33 am
by GZM1
georgiaame wrote:
Ah, the question brings me back to the good old days of being a poor, starving medical student in Europe, in the days of transatlantic youth fares. (Think $200 rt, unrestricted ticket, other than no stopovers on the way). How did they fill those planes? Well, sometimes they didn't. Best flight was Milan to JFK, TWA 747, probably around 1973/4. 9 passengers on board, 3 of whom were up front in first class. 6 in economy, which included me. Flight attendant requested that I move from the "B" compartment up front to the rear of the plane for take off and landing. Of course I complied, looking very quizzical. It would be decades later, fond reader of this blog that I am, that I was able to understand just why the pilots needed to make that request.

That 747 must have been full from JFK to MIlan. I guess it was LIN. The return flight is a different story. And now I hope you care to reveal the secret because I am new here: Why did they request that you move to the rear..... I am all ears!

Re: How did Airlines Fill up Large Widebodies in the Old days?

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 4:44 pm
by FCOTSTW
This is my experience about transatlantic sales in the 80s.

Back then, the sale of retail airline tickets was mainly offered through three channels: reservation offices, ticket offices (both airport- and downtown-located), and travel agencies. All of this changed when internet sales took over.

In the 70s and 80s airlines used to promote air services through television, radio, and newspapers advertisements and commercials, most often with the message for passengers to call their reservation number. Once the reservation was done, then passengers had to either visit a company-owned outlet (the ticket office) or a travel agency. It was a Catch-22 game, as to contain costs airlines wanted to sell tickets directly to customers (without intermediation) but did not have enough coverage of the territory to ignore the travel agencies, which were essential to ticket sales and that used to get a commission (6% on transatlantic fares and 3% on domestic, IIRC). In addition, back then airlines used to resort to some strange ticket-selling strategies, which now appear awkward. The first was the “budget fare”, where passengers would go to a ticket office and make a down payment for a ticket for a particular route without set days. Indeed, all the passenger could do was to select a “departure” and a “return” week and about a month before departure, the local reservation office called the passenger to let him/her know the exact departure and return date. This was particularly effective in the 70s. The other strategy was the one to sell stand-by tickets to the public: this was mainly done on flights from LHR to the U.S. until the mid-80s.

Also, back then airlines had armies of sales representatives (I am not sure if they still have them now), whose task was to canvass relationships with travel agents, so to steer business to their airline.

Overall, back then selling a ticket was more complicated that now, as a passenger had to call and book a seat and had to purchase a ticket within a specified time limit in person, either at the airport, or at a city ticket office or travel agencies. IIRC only later during 80s reservation agents were able to get credit cards over the telephone.

Please be aware that these observations are coming from my personal experience and that, I am sure, many of you might have different recollections.

Re: How did Airlines Fill up Large Widebodies in the Old days?

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 6:06 pm
by afcjets
slcdeltarumd11 wrote:
1.they didn't but fuel was much cheaper so less of an issue and fares were higher
2.they didn't offer the frequency we see now


One exception was DL and the L10 in the mid to late 1990s, especially between ATL and Florida. The fares were low because of J7/FL and the frequencies were still pretty high. Almost every flight ATL-MCO and more than half of the flights to FLL, JAX, MIA, PBI, and TPA were widebody.

Re: How did Airlines Fill up Large Widebodies in the Old days?

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 6:20 pm
by william
afcjets wrote:
slcdeltarumd11 wrote:
1.they didn't but fuel was much cheaper so less of an issue and fares were higher
2.they didn't offer the frequency we see now


One exception was DL and the L10 in the mid to late 1990s, especially between ATL and Florida. The fares were low because of J7/FL and the frequencies were still pretty high. Almost every flight ATL-MCO and more than half of the flights to FLL, JAX, MIA, PBI, and TPA were widebody.


Seems like every flight from ATL-MCO was a L10 and DL had plenty of frequencies between major markets. Airlines are just more capacity control conscious now instead of worrying about market share.

Re: How did Airlines Fill up Large Widebodies in the Old days?

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:46 pm
by bluefrog
IAHWorldflyer wrote:
Another thing that I'm surprised no one has mentioned is that the narrowbodies of the '70's did not have the range that they do today. The old 737-200s and 727-200s could only fly about 1400 miles if full. Thus, if an airline wanted to do a trans-con or something almost trans-con, you needed a DC10 or L1011. SEA-ATL was an L1011 flight on Eastern and Delta back then, and only a couple times a day. Same goes for something like DTW-LAX. Today, you have multiple daily flights on A320s and 738's that have plenty of range.


so true i flew on a britannia 737 in October 85 (must of been a 200 series?) from LGW to BJL had to stop at TFS to refuel on the outward and the return flight so turned into over 7 hour flights ,but as i love take off and landings i loved it

Re: How did Airlines Fill up Large Widebodies in the Old days?

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:57 pm
by ikramerica
LH707330 wrote:
IAHWorldflyer wrote:
Another thing that I'm surprised no one has mentioned is that the narrowbodies of the '70's did not have the range that they do today. The old 737-200s and 727-200s could only fly about 1400 miles if full. Thus, if an airline wanted to do a trans-con or something almost trans-con, you needed a DC10 or L1011. SEA-ATL was an L1011 flight on Eastern and Delta back then, and only a couple times a day. Same goes for something like DTW-LAX. Today, you have multiple daily flights on A320s and 738's that have plenty of range.

Bingo. Until the 757/767, the L10 and DC10 were the smallest trans-con capable machines that were still somewhat viable with 1970s oil prices. This whole thread makes me wonder: had they not expected the 747 to become a freighter after SST EIS and thus sized for 2-wide containers, would Boeing have made it the size of an A340 and sold a lot more?


United ran the DC8 for a decade after the 757 on transcons and Hawaii into 1991 (92?). Granted they were re-engined.

Re: How did Airlines Fill up Large Widebodies in the Old days?

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:33 pm
by flyingclrs727
krlgarcia01 wrote:
Probably the routes that the 747 have flown before had many stops. An example would be MNL-DMK-KHI-ATH-FRA-LGW when the 747 can easily travel nonstop MNL-LGW. Some passengers disembarked at ATH or FRA, and not need to travel to LGW.


The 747-, -200, and -300 could not fly MNL-LGW. Furthermore, even if they could, the USSR would not have allowed overflight of its territory. What the early 747's could do is fly the route just one or two stops.

Re: How did Airlines Fill up Large Widebodies in the Old days?

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:51 pm
by peterinlisbon
Between Europe and Asia there was much less competition before - European airlines would fly a lot more big aircraft if Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways didn't exist. All of those A380s/777s/A350s are taking a lot of the traffic.

Re: How did Airlines Fill up Large Widebodies in the Old days?

Posted: Sat Jul 06, 2019 3:11 pm
by RobertS975
$200 RT "student' fares on TATL routes. I did a few of those in the 1970s.... BA (actually I think it was still BOAC) and Sabena 747s.

Re: How did Airlines Fill up Large Widebodies in the Old days?

Posted: Tue Jul 09, 2019 3:54 am
by Bingo1
Following is a link to an old video about National. The section from about the 8 to 9 min mark is some route planners discussing load factors. "I've got load factors of 25-30% on a DC-10".
OUCH!
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Mtr9Demv2lE

Re: How did Airlines Fill up Large Widebodies in the Old days?

Posted: Tue Jul 09, 2019 9:30 am
by Xcarrier
IIRC sometime mid to late 80's, Sabena found itself struggling to fill its 747 BRU-JFK-BRU services and so struck a deal to run it via LGW in order for BCal to market LGW-JFK-LGW.

Early 80's QF London had a small department upstairs in its Bond Street/Piccadilly office dedicated to issuing (sometimes 100's) of tickets a day for it's appointed consolidator agencies It was also the time when the vast majority of ex-UK fares were sold on an Apex/Advanced Purchase basis so the money was earning interest in the bank many months before the passenger set-foot onboard an aircraft.

Re: How did Airlines Fill up Large Widebodies in the Old days?

Posted: Tue Jul 09, 2019 10:58 am
by SEPilot
Short answer is that in many cases they didn’t. When the 747 came out almost all airlines rushed to order it, and then when they had them many airlines dumped them as quickly as they could. Most of the airlines that kept them did so because they needed the range, not the capacity. Now that they have choices that have the range in much lower capacities, they are buying those instead. Hence the death of the A380 and 748i.

Re: How did Airlines Fill up Large Widebodies in the Old days?

Posted: Tue Jul 09, 2019 2:25 pm
by eta unknown
Xcarrier wrote:
IIRC sometime mid to late 80's, Sabena found itself struggling to fill its 747 BRU-JFK-BRU services and so struck a deal to run it via LGW in order for BCal to market LGW-JFK-LGW.


It was BRU-LGW-ATL and BA tried unsuccessfully to block it.
During the 70's & 80's SN and EI were the transatlantic basket cases. SN often got in trouble for paying "illegal" huge commissions in the US to agents to fill up their planes- even the JFK route was a dog with the 747.

Re: How did Airlines Fill up Large Widebodies in the Old days?

Posted: Tue Jul 09, 2019 2:29 pm
by Indy
Back in the day, I was on a TW L1011 from STL to IND. I think there was maybe 15-20 people on it. Not sure filling that jet was much of a priority. There also used to be an TW L1011 on IND-DAY.

Re: How did Airlines Fill up Large Widebodies in the Old days?

Posted: Tue Jul 09, 2019 3:26 pm
by Xcarrier
eta unknown wrote:
Xcarrier wrote:
IIRC sometime mid to late 80's, Sabena found itself struggling to fill its 747 BRU-JFK-BRU services and so struck a deal to run it via LGW in order for BCal to market LGW-JFK-LGW.


It was BRU-LGW-ATL and BA tried unsuccessfully to block it.
During the 70's & 80's SN and EI were the transatlantic basket cases. SN often got in trouble for paying "illegal" huge commissions in the US to agents to fill up their planes- even the JFK route was a dog with the 747.


Ah yes, now that you mention it, ATL it was .... I was wondering as I typed it that JFK somehow didn't seem quite right. Not surprised at all to hear that BA tried to block it :|

Mention was made earlier of a MNL-BKK-KHI-ATH-FRA-LGW route. I did it nonrev on PR, BKK-LGW. I have a vague idea it stopped somewhere like AUH too and recall starting to wonder if the flight would ever end. The outbound on that trip was on a PA 747, possibly the RTW PA1 or 2, LHR-FRA-KHI-BKK. I had tickets on TG as well, but as PA left about 15mins earlier I was on it when it went tech in FRA and sat watching the TG D10 arrive from LHR, park next to us and then depart while we remained there for approx another 3 hours :irked:

Re: How did Airlines Fill up Large Widebodies in the Old days?

Posted: Tue Jul 09, 2019 4:25 pm
by aeropix
deltadc9 wrote:
, United had only one or two daily 747 flights to Hawaii even. .


On the other hand, there was a period in United's history around 1986 if I recall correctly, where they proudly advertised that "ALL service to Hawaii is ALL 747's, all the time". I remember these TV ads in Los Angeles from my childhood, though I bet that paradigm only lasted a few years.

Re: How did Airlines Fill up Large Widebodies in the Old days?

Posted: Tue Jul 09, 2019 4:52 pm
by eta unknown
Re PR's Europe milk run... Years ago I read a trip report in Business Traveller about that flight. The one thing I remembered was the flight was double catered ex BKK and the only meal (no choice) ex KHI was pork fried rice!