The ’70s was a golden age of air travel, the epitome of which was Qantas’s First Class lounges. DAN DOWN sips a vodka martini and asks if we’ll ever return to such halcyon days.
Forget about politely asking the chap behind you if it’s OK that you lean your seat back (not that anyone bothers to ask anymore, anyway). No, this is the ’70s, man, and the only thing you’ll have to ask for politely during the flight is a pina colada, because you’re sat in a large swivel seat, your massive flared trousers stretching gloriously across a shag-pile carpet. The image above and accompanying brochure artworks reveal our national carrier’s Captain Cook Lounge circa 1971. They’re reminders of a time when cha ing with fellow passengers in a nautical-themed living room at 35,000 feet was the norm... and hair was big. “The Captain Cook Lounge occupied the entire upper deck of the first Qantas Boeing 747-200 fleet,” says Phil Capps, Qantas Head of Customer Product and Service Development. “It was designed to create the feel of an 18th century ship’s cabin with lanterns, a globe and rope coils. It was open to First Class passengers only and was the largest 747 lounge in the world. It could seat about 20 people who would enjoy cocktails and snacks, and passengers could also smoke on board then.” The Economy cabin wasn’t totally forgo en however, with li le etchings of Captain Cook on wall panels throughout. But what of entertainment? Where are the in-flight movies? While there was no live music on board, “The new 747 was the first Qantas aircra to offer audio entertainment via headsets,” says Phil. “Qantas was proud of its program and even released a twovolume LP record of its 747 tunes.” We’d love to hear that vinyl. But the glory days are still here, in fact. Today, most major airlines have exclusive lounge experiences, albeit on the ground. Qantas’s flagship First Lounges in Sydney and Melbourne, for example, were designed by acclaimed designer Marc Newson. In the air First Class passengers on the Qantas Airbus A380 aircra have their own private First Suites, with spacious seats becoming fully flat beds, touchscreen TVs and other mod-cons that hadn’t been invented in the ’70s. Still, you can’t beat a fluffy swivel chair, can you?