FLY­ING HIGH

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE -

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.

GRA­HAM ERBACHER

Pan Am fly­ing boats had mul­ti­ple rooms for pas­sen­gers to re­lax

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