Back in 1946, the Australian government founded an airline called Trans Australia Airlines or TAA for short. It operated primarily domestic routes for 40 years, before being renamed Australian Airlines in 1986. That re-brand didn’t last long, as the airline was merged with Qantas in 1992, becoming their domestic arm.

While at home recently, I found an Australian Airlines brochure detailing their offering, probably issued to travel agencies during 1988. Inside the book are the seat maps of the fleet which I thought were worth sharing.

Australian Airlines Flagship

The Airbus A300B4-203 was the flagship of the fleet. Five aircraft were purchased from Airbus, which were delivered from 1981. It seemed to be a little bit too much aircraft for the 1980s, as one was sold in 1987 and others were leased out for periods of time.

With four toilets in the back and an uninterrupted economy cabin, it must have looked quite spacious inside. These aircraft finished up their service with Qantas, with the final flight taking place in 1998.

The Ubiquitous Boeing 727-200

Once upon a time, the Boeing 727 ruled the sky in many countries throughout the world. In Australia, they arrived from 1964 with both Ansett-ANA and TAA putting them into service at the same time. The larger 727-200 entered TAA service in 1973 and that is what we see here.

The final service for the aircraft at Australian Airlines was 31 December 1992, with a flight from Melbourne to Sydney. That ended the era at that airline, though they did continue flying with Ansett through the 1990s.

The Boeing 737-300

Australian Airlines was introduced to the public in 1986, with the delivery of the Boeing 737-376 aircraft. The modern branding was quite interesting and television was drenched with commercials touting the “new” airline.

Later on, the Boeing 737-476 was introduced and eventually all were retired in favour of the Boeing 737-800. Qantas still operates the latter today, but they are all going to be replaced with Airbus A320-series aircraft over the rest of this decade.

An “Australian” Douglas DC-9

The Douglas DC-9-30 entered service with TAA in 1967 and when Australian Airlines was created were already slated for retirement. This meant that none of them appeared in the new airline’s livery.

Australia’s last DC-9 passenger service took place on 17 November 1989 from Brisbane to Melbourne, so the seat map above would have been the final configuration offered. The starboard side seats seem larger than their port side counterparts in first and business, which I must try to find a picture of at some stage.

Australian Airlines Brochure Page

For completeness, below you’ll find the entire page out of the brochure. You’ll see it notes that “business class can expand or contract, depending upon passenger demand.”

What eventually happened was that first class was dropped altogether. That class then became business class, and the standard two class domestic cabins we know and love today became commonplace.

Overall Thoughts

While timetables are generally the place to find airline seating plans, there is plenty of other ephemera like these travel agency brochures that also displayed them. Most of them would have been disposed of, but my Dad had friends in travel and knowing he had a son into planes wasn’t shy about asking for free stuff from time to time.

Vintage seat maps do illustrate that apart from some changes due to classes, not a lot has changed over the years. Everyone faces forward with the same cross section as we’re all used to today.

Did you ever fly with Australian Airlines or TAA? What were they like? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by John Richard Thomson on
Airbus A300B4 by Rob Finlayson via Australian Aviation.
Boeing 727-276 image by Daniel Tanner on
Boeing 737-376 postcard via jjPostcards.

Douglas DC-9 by Aviation Photography Miami via Wikimedia Commons.