Over at Evan Spark's Aviation Policy Blog and at Salon.com's Ask The Pilot there's some interesting stuff about how air fares have fallen. In 1939 when when PanAm carried the first commercial passengers across the Atlantic the single fare was the equivalent of £4,000 today – and it was on a seaplane. The Irish stop en route to and from Southampton was at Foynes where, included in the exorbitant cost of travel, passengers were taken to dry land in an open launch with not even an umbrella to keep them dry. At the restaurant in the Foynes terminal building a Chef named Joe Sheridan realized that the passengers frequently needed warming up - Irish Coffee was invented to solve that little problem. When he was asked about his creation of coffee,cream and Irish Whiskey by a passenger “Is that Brazilian coffee?” he replied, “No. That’s Irish Coffee.” The picture on the left shows a PanAm Clipper taking off from Foynes in Ireland.
In 1952 PanAm introduced a tourist class fare of £173 return between London and New York - today that equates to over £3,000. Even then passengers had to pay for their lunch or dinner, which cost three times what it would have in a restaurant on the ground – and we thought today’s no frills airlines had introduced something new.
The picture (above right) comes from everythingpanam.com a really interesting virtual museum on the airline.