You’d be forgiven for thinking that only Air France and British Airways operated Concorde. As we know, Singapore Airlines also operated Concorde, as did an airline in the United States, Braniff.
Commencing on 12 January 1979, Braniff operated Concorde between Dallas Fort Worth and Washington Dulles five times per week. These connected to London three times a week and Paris twice weekly. One way fares were US$154 to US$169 in early 1979, $US194 later that year, and US$227 in early 1980. Initially this was a 10% surcharge over First Class however this was soon removed.
The cockpit and cabin crew were all employed by the US airline, who took over the aircraft from Air France or British Airways. As the FAA mandated that the aircraft had to be registered in the United States, they were “sold” to Braniff each time they operated the service. This meant they became a US registered aircraft while operating domestically.
The last two letters of the existing registration were carried over. Therefore, a British Airways Concorde registered G-BOAC became N81AC, while an Air France Concorde registered F-BVFD became N94FD.
Fourteen Braniff pilots, comprising of three Captains, five First Officers and four Flight Engineers were trained to operate the aircraft. While speeds were restricted to Mach 0.95 for the US sector – just below supersonic – the crew were fully trained to fly up to Mach 2.
For the American services, the documentation such as manuals and so on all had to be US approved. This meant storing the British or French documentation in the forward toilet for the US services!
Unfortunately, the flights never caught on with the public. A 121% increase in jet fuel costs coupled with load factors as low as 20% meant a lot of money was being lost on the flights. In May 1980, a little more than a year after flights started, the operation was terminated.
It is a shame that Concorde never appeared in Braniff colours. Artists impressions are all we have to show what the aircraft might have looked like.
Considering how few people would have used the service, anyone who got on board is probably very lucky they did so. The pilots and cabin crew have the rare distinction of having worked on board the world’s most popular supersonic airliner.
Did you ever fly on Concorde with Braniff between Washington DC and Dallas? Would you have taken this flight, or would you have paid the usual First Class fare on a subsonic aircraft instead? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.