|Quoting ElpinDAB (Thread starter):|
How would a "snapshot" of Pacific travel have appeared during the late 80's/early 90's?
I'm going from memory as a kid but I feel like this was kind of the cusp of a new era. In the early 80's, travel to Asia was still very expensive and non-stops were mostly available from the west coast and Hawaii. I do recall feeling like Northwest Orient had a virtual monopoly on the market in the west, and their bare metal red tailed 747 classics were everywhere.
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Northwest always had an actual hub in Tokyo - they were always considered kind of an honorary Japanese airline there, especially after the help they provided in founding JAL. So flights to most destinations in Asia went through Tokyo if you were flying Northwest, which you probably were if you were flying from Chicago or points west.
In the east, Pan Am was big but they had to use the 747SP to do non-stop (in fact, this was the main reason for the SP
's existence)... and it wasn't a route that a lot of leisure travelers seemed to take, in either direction. If you went to Asia, you went for work or because you had to... or because you wanted a really exotic vacation, and could afford it. Having to make a stop from most cities in the US made it really kind of a trek, especially coupled with the time difference. You'd be flying for about 20 hours and then your internal clock would be off by 12 hours. People would really think you were something if you told them you'd taken a trip to Japan or China - it didn't feel like the world had really fully opened up yet. Other airlines did fly to Asia from the east but the 747-200 could barely make it non-stop on a good day.
When the 747-400 came online in the late 80's and early 90's, suddenly that opened up non-stop flights to all of the US, and from more than just Tokyo. And around that same time, deregulation and competition were driving down fares and the leisure market to Asian destinations picked up. Airlines like Northwest that previously had virtual monopolies flying to Asia suddenly found it harder to compete. It was in the early 90's that US-Asia flights started to become commoditized. In New York, you'd have half a dozen US-based airlines flying daily non-stops to Asia by then, plus 3 or 4 Asian carriers. This seemed to happen virtually overnight.
[Edited 2012-12-30 23:55:40]
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