Old seat sale ads show how affordable air travel has become

One of the most remarkable events of modern times has been the falling cost of long-distance air travel. For previous generations, a trip to Europe was either a sign of wealth or a once-in-a-lifetime event after having spent a few years saving up the money for it.

And a trip to Australia or New Zealand? That was an even more exclusive luxury for the rich.

Today, a trip to any of these destinations is within the grasp of the middle class — particularly independent travelers, groups of friends, couples and retirees.

As a reminder of how far we’ve come, take a look at some of these seat sale fares from the past. These fares were, as usual, not inclusive of whatever taxes and surcharges existed at the time. (And, being seat sale prices, they were bargains compared to the regular coach fare.)

Then, look at how much these trips cost today, including taxes and surcharges, based on Expedia’s lowest available round-trip price as of May 2-3, departing Sept. 13 and returning Sept. 24.

Montreal to London, round trip (1956)

Airline: Trans-Canada Airlines (now Air Canada)
Date Advertised: Oct. 30, 1956
Seat Sale Fare (1956 dollars): $416
Seat Sale Fare (2007 dollars): $3,244

Currently Available For: $787 on US Airways

Winnipeg to Germany, round trip (1964)

Airline: Lufthansa (with domestic segment on TCA-Air Canada or CP Air)
Date Advertised: Sept. 26, 1964
Seat Sale Fare (1964 dollars): $503.90
Seat Sale Fare (2007 dollars): $3,426

Currently Available For: $1,106 to Frankfurt on Delta/Northwest

Winnipeg to Vienna, round trip (1967)

Airline: Air Canada
Date Advertised: June 10, 1967
Seat Sale Fare (1967 dollars): $530
Seat Sale Fare (2007 dollars): $3,265

Currently Available For: $1,065 on Air Canada/Austrian

Winnipeg to Copenhagen, round trip (1970)

Airline: Air Canada
Date Advertised: Jan. 8, 1970
Seat Sale Fare (1970 dollars): $364 to $493
Seat Sale Fare (2007 dollars): $1,999 to $2,708

Currently Available For: $1,110.56 on Air Canada/Scandinavian

Winnipeg to Honolulu, round trip (1989)

Airline: Northwest
Date Advertised: Jan. 28, 1989
Seat Sale Fare (1989 dollars): $699
Seat Sale Fare (2007 dollars): $1,042

Currently Available For: $762 on Air Canada

Admittedly, you won’t get the level of pampering today that you would have received all those years ago. But those of us who’ve been bitten by the travel bug would say it’s a fair trade-off.

When was the last time you heard an airline promote the delicious food and comfortable seating they offer in Economy?

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About theviewfromseven
A lone wolf and a bit of a contrarian who sometimes has something to share.

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