Whatever happened to class? The Pan Am flying-boat Clipper service was the epitome of it, if only for a surprisingly few years in the 1930s-40s. The trouble was, accommodation at a destination often didn’t match the luxury in the air. Aboard a Sikorsky S42 (which, along with the Boeing 314, provided the Pan Am service), think 17 passengers, 10 crew, square rooms with beds, lounge chairs and proper tables; on the ground, think hotels with shared bathrooms, hard beds and no telecoms (such as a phone).
In 1946, Pan Am founder Juan Trippe established the forerunner of what is now InterContinental Hotels & Resorts to remedy the situation. The first property to open was the Hotel Grande in Belem, north Brazil, where guests could breathe fresh air after the best part of three days in transit from the US east coast. And there was a phone on each floor, with attendants to alert guests of a call. The project was what we’d call today a privatepublic partnership, with the US government keen to build economic relationships and ward off strife in South American countries.
Celebrating its 70th birthday this year, InterContinental now has 184 hotels in more than 60 countries.
Pan Am flying boats had multiple rooms for passengers to relax