A little outfit called Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Services was founded on 16 November 1920. The airline is better known nowadays as Qantas and it turns 100 years old today.
To mark the occasion, here is a collection of articles that I have written over the years. These illustrate the interesting and occasionally quirky history of the flying kangaroo.
Being 100 Years Old Means A Lot Of History!
The flying boat era at Qantas commenced in 1938, with services from Rose Bay in Sydney to Southampton in England. There are two short videos and a longer one on these services operated by Short Empire Flying Boats in my article here.
During World War II, Australia was cut off from Europe, so a new link to England was established. Flown by Catalina flying boats, the services stayed in the air for an incredible 29 to 32 hours, meaning people saw the sun rise twice, leading to The Secret Order of the Double Sunrise.
The Jet Era
Another unique event worth mentioning now Qantas is 100 years old is that Boeing made a special version of the 707 for them. This was the Boeing 707-138 and the story about why that happened is here. In fact, Qantas became the third airline to operate jets across the Atlantic, after BOAC and Pan American.
Advertising in the 1950s and 1960s is somewhat different today, as you can see here in these vintage advertisements from the time. The airline was owned by the Australian government back then, which led to some interesting routes, such as the glamourous Qantas flight 580!
For some history from the source, a former Qantas flight steward named Warner Gibbs was interviewed in some short videos which are quite interesting. Flying as crew back then must have been a lot of fun.
Throughout the years, Qantas was the international carrier of Australia and had no domestic flights, similar to Pan Am in the US. In the 1990s, the government owned domestic airline Australian Airlines was merged with Qantas. Here are some of their 1980s and 1990s television commercials which are just fabulous.
What’s It Like Flying Qantas?
While 100 years old, the flying experience is not the same as it was initially. If it was, it would be goggles, scarves and capes for all as we travelled in a biplane with open cockpits.
The domestic business class experience is world class, with the best of Europe and the USA merged together. Even their economy class product is very good domestically as it includes complimentary catering. However, not much beats a few hours in their luxurious international first class lounge in Sydney.
There is a lot of history in a business that is 100 years old. Happily this is celebrated in a few places, such as the Qantas Heritage Collection in the Sydney domestic terminal and the Qantas Founders Outback Museum in Longreach, the town where it all began.
What do you think of Qantas turning 100 years old? Have you any memories of flying or working with Qantas that you’d like to share? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.