As my father-in-law who is 89 years young just returned from a tropical vacation and was complaining about the delay not only in leaving Toronto but arriving back a week later, and still quite irked by the lack of concern by the airline, I thought I’d take a moment and remind people that commercial flight has only been around just over 100 years — 105 to be precise as the first commercial flight for an airline was in 1914 with one paying passenger.
By the 1930’s air travel had exploded when the number of people using airplanes to travel shot from 6,000 annually in 1930 to over 1.2 million by 1938. Today well over 3 billion people travel by plane on a daily basis. What are the odds that there won’t be a delay somewhere with that amount of travelers. I always write off the first day of the vacation and the return home and if everything goes well, then that is a bonus.
We can complain a lot about the cost of flying, the cost of fuel and the absence of meals on flights but if you were flying from London, England to Australia back then it would take 11 days to complete with 24 scheduled stops to refuel for the staggering amount of $20,000 dollars. So more for the rich and famous then the average Joe. Nowadays this flight would be about 22 hours for less than $2,000 return. Mind you, you can fit a lot more people on a modern plane.
An average ticket for a flight could cost 1/2 the price of a brand new car (approx. $600-$800 dollars). The price of a house meanwhile was about $4,000.00. Passengers also had to worry about permanently losing their hearing due to the noise of the engines and their lunch with unexpected sharp drops of 100 feet or so throughout the flight.
KLM is the self-proclaimed oldest airline in the world. It is also the world’s oldest continually operating airline under the same name. Founded on October 7, 1919, KLM made its first scheduled flight between London and Amsterdam in 1920.
The first flight attendants were male stewards who loaded luggage, reassured nervous passengers and issued refunds or helped people around the cabin. By the late 1920’s, Pan-American Airways, which flew over water, required extensive first aid and seamanship training for its steward trainees. The first female attendants or stewardesses were introduced in May of 1930.
Next time you find yourself at the airport waiting an extra four or six hours to depart because the airline didn’t notify you of any delays when you phoned at 5:30 am to take the airporter there and you could have used the extra three hours sleep, stay cool, you can meet a lot of nice people at the airport and what good does it do getting your panties all in a bunch anyways (or knickers in a twist if you’re from England). Till the next time, happy trails!