airline history

Qantas has a fun new safety video

Qantas Airways is celebrating its 100th anniversary with some classic throwback action.

First up is this new in-flight safety video featuring ‘80s mullets, ‘70s moustaches, 1940s flying boats and 1920s propeller aircraft.

The safety video briefing features modern-day Qantas crew members in carefully recreated historical settings onboard aircraft and in airport terminals.

Qantas has also put together an exhibition showcasing the past, present and future of the airline, with artifacts, life-sized replicas and interactive installations.

The exhibition will be touring Australia for the next year, but here are a couple of highlights that seem pretty cool.

This is a replica of a Qantas 747 First Class Lounge from the 1970s.

Qantas original B747 1970s Lounge

And this is one of the scrapbooks that belonged to Qantas co-founder Fergus McMaster.

Miniature houses have big role in KLM history

Well-known airlines such as Pan Am, TWA, US Airways and Virgin America are long gone. And in just the past two years more than two dozen other airlines went from soaring to shuttered.

So, it is noteworthy that KLM Royal Dutch Airlines turned 100 on October 7.

The Dutch flag carrier is not only one of the world’s oldest airlines, it is also the oldest airline still flying under its original name.

It’s also the only airline where the guest of honor at its annual birthday party is the newest version of the three-inch tall porcelain house gifted to business class passengers flying on the carrier’s intercontinental routes.

The history of the houses

Back in 1952, KLM began giving its first-class passengers a gift of a miniature Delft Blue pottery house portraying a historically or architecturally significant Dutch building.

Because there were rules and limits regarding the value of gifts to passengers, the airline filled the houses with gin so that they were technically not gifts but free cocktails that just happened to be served in souvenir containers.  

New editions of the souvenir houses were created on and off for many years until 1994 – KLM’s 75th Anniversary – when the airline commissioned a bonus catch-up batch of miniature houses so that the number of souvenir houses in the series lined up with airline’s age.

Now one of the airline industry’s most sought-after complimentary inflight amenity, a new miniature Delft Blue porcelain houses filled with Bols Genever, a popular Dutch gin, is unveiled at the carrier’s birthday party each October 7. The new house is cycled into the assortment of miniature houses business class passengers can choose from on each flight.

A handy app helps passengers and collectors track the KLM houses they have, or still need. Swapping is popular and there’s a robust secondhand market in Amsterdam shops and online, with prices ranging from about $15 for the common houses to upwards of $550 for some of the rarer editions.  

Over the years, KLM’s miniature houses have depicted everything from the home of Dutch exotic dancer and spy Mata Hari to the Anne Frank House and the Rembrandt House.

In 2014, KLM’s miniature house portrayed the Heineken Brewery in Amsterdam.

Hotel New York in Rotterdam

Rotterdam’s Hotel New York, in the former headquarters of the Holland America line, was the featured house in 2016. And the home in Haarlem where Dutch aviation pioneer and aircraft manufacturer Anthony Fokker once lived was honored with a miniature gin-filled house in 2017.

KLM Delft miniature house #98 depicted the home of Dutch aviation pioneer Anthony Fokker in Haarlem

KLM’s 100th anniversary house

KLM’s much-anticipated 100th Delftware miniature building was revealed at the carrier’s 100th birthday party, held in a hangar at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on October 7.

The event was attended by more the 3500 people, some of whom had flown in just to be among the first to get their hands on the newest miniature house.

Courtesy KLM

The 100th house is a replica of Huis ten Bosch Palace in The Hague, the current home of the Netherland’s King Willem-Alexander and his family.

The palace was built in the mid-17th century for Prince Frederik Hendrik of Orange and his wife Amalia van Solms and was chosen to be KLM’s 100th miniature house to honor the strong ties between the Dutch Royal Family and KLM since the airline’s early days.

The future of the KLM houses

While KLM’s Delftware miniatures are highly collectible and closely tied to the carrier’s branding, KLM is also committed to making aviation more sustainable.

To that end, the carrier uses electric baggage towing tractors, purchases carbon offsets, operates many flights using a biofuel mix and works to reduce waste and weight on flights.

But ditching the miniature porcelain houses to lighten loads has not been considered.

“There are things you should do and things which you shouldn’t do. Period,” said KLM’s President and CEO Pieter Elbers, “For sustainability, we are investing in lightweight containers, trolleys, cargo nets, bottles, glasses and many other things to reduce weight on our planes,” said Elbers, “But those houses, we won’t touch.”

(My story about KLM’s 100th Delft miniature house first appeared on CNBC.)

KLM turns 100 on Oct 7

KLM, Royal Dutch Airways, turns 100 on October 7 and celebrations marking the milestone event are already underway.

A great exhibit drawing from KLM’s extensive collection of more the 250,000 images has been on view at the Amsterdam City Archives.

And on October 7, a hoopla event will take place in a KLM hangar at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. During that party, the much-awaited ‘reveal’ of the 100th tiny Delft house filled with Bols Genever (a Dutch gin) will take place.

The small houses are a given out as complimentary gifts to travelers flying World Business Class and there’s always a wave of excitement in the cabin when the cart with the houses start being rolled down the aisle.

Stuck at the Airport will on hand for this year’s big reveal and we’ll share details on that as soon as we’re able.

Stuck at The Airport was honored to be on site for the reveal of KLM’s 97th miniature Delft House, which was made in the likeness of the Hotel New York in Rotterdam.

The hotel is on the site of the former headquarters of the Holland American Line and for many years, beginning in 1872, the company’s ships sailed between Rotterdam and New York and several other U.S. cities.

Stuck at the Airport was also onsite for the reveal of KLM’s miniature Delft house #98 – which depicts the family home of aviation pioneer Antony Fokker.

In advance of its birthday, KLM has been busy with events, promotions and announcements celebrating the company’s past – and looking to the future.

Take a look at these two short videos, especially the “Fly Responsibly” video that actually encourages travelers not to fly.

Hawaiian Airlines: why all the gum?

On Monday, journalists gathered at Hawaiian Airlines’ Honolulu headquarters for the carrier’s first global media day and the announcement that the airline is adding lie-flat seats to the premium cabins on its fleet of A330 aircraft.

hawaiian airline seats

During the event, refreshments were laid out for the attendees. And in with the coffee, water, fruit and trail mix were boxes filled with packs of Doublemint gum.

The gum seemed like an odd offering until it was explained that last November, when Hawaiian Airlines was celebrating the 85th anniversary of interisland passenger service, Doublemint gum was part of the festivities.

The reason: back in 1929, the first inflight amenity offered to passengers was a stick of Wrigley’s gum to help relieve ear pressure.

Hawaiian Airlines revived that tradition during its anniversary day celebration on November 11, 2015 by once again handing out Wrigley’s Doublemint gum to passengers (along with some other goodies) to the more than 12,000 passengers taking neighbor island flights that day.

Hawaiian gum offer

Hawaiian Airlines gum box

But not all the gum Wrigley’s sent to Hawaiian Airlines for the celebration was used.

Not by a longshot. Which is why Doublemint gum is now there on the refreshment table at a lot of Hawaiian Airlines events.

hawaiian airlines gumbox (3)

Lufthansa “then & now” photo exhibit at Munich Airport

Lufthansa then and now flight attendants

Lufthansa has put together an exhibition of ‘then and now’ photos bundled under the title “Service is our tradition” and on view in Terminal 2 at Munich Airport until the end of August.

The images show the development of Lufthansa from 1955 to today and show historical images of the cabin, the cockpit and aircraft juxtaposed with similarly posed scenes from today.

Here are few samples:

Lufthansa then and now flight attendants with kids

Lufthansa then and now flight attendant with drinks

Not going to Munich Airport anytime soon? You can see all the photos from the exhibition here.