Tomorrow I will fly for the 1000th time. That flight will also be my 291st flight with Qantas airways.
I celebrate a half century this year, so on average, I have flown 20 times per year – about twice a month! I was three when I first flew and there were some years when I flew 100+ times and other years when my feet did not leave the ground.
I have flown with 89 airlines since the 1960s- 64 of which are still flying (and 25 gone). I have had a number of favourite airlines over the time. BOAC was my favourite in the late 60s as I flew with my Junior Jet Cub Book in hand! Pan Am took me on my first 747 ride for my birthday in 1971. That same year, I flew in love with Cathay Pacific and I still regard them as one of the best airlines I have flown. Qantas were fantastic for so long but today they feel a shadow of themselves. I have not enjoyed United for over 20 years now! I liked Delta, then went off them and now like them again.
The airlines have carried me on 51 types of aircraft including Avros, Fokkers, DC10s. Lockheed Tristars and every Airbus type from the 300 to 380. When I first flew, almost all of my trips were on propeller planes. My first Boeing jet was a 707 to Rome in 1971! I have now flown every Boeing type from that type through to the 777 (not yet been on a 787). Flights these days are of course faster. I remember flying from Australia to Europe in the 1970s. The 747 stopped three times en route while I sat surrounded by smoking Italians!
The flights have taken me to 46 countries on six continents. I have walked, taken the train or bus or ferry to a further 13 to reach my visited nation total of 59.
I have seen tickets move from handwritten paper documents to E tickets! Entertainment has shifted from passengers taking a book on board to sophisticated on-board systems with 1200 entertainment programs. I am old enough to remember luggage labels pasted on the sides of bags! Of course, I have seen seat room shrink in economy and grow in First. Airports have grown massively, lounges have blossomed and security has become more evolved and complicated. I didn’t use a jetbridge for many years of flying and now it is the norm rather than the exception One thing that has not changed are those lines at LAX immigration!
Flying has been extremely fun for most of the years I have flown. The clear exception was from 2002 to 2007 when travelling (particularly in the USA) became grim after the intense security provisions kicked in. It improved until 2012 when I think airlines became “meaner” about their services, allowances and benefits. Flying in the last three years has never been cheaper and never been more cramped down the back!
If I take another 50 years to reach my 2000th flight, I wonder what flying will look like when I am 100?