Qantas celebrates 70 years of London flights

Qantas celebrates 70 years of London flights

Qantas, the old bugger, has hit quite the milestone this year, marking 70 years since embarking on its first flight from Sydney to London.

Naturally, it wasn’t as seamless as flights are today. No, sir.

The first SYD-LON flight took almost four days, including two overnight stops, and stopped to refuel in Darwin, Singapore, Calcutta, Karachi, Cairo, Castel Benito, and Rome, before arriving (finally) in London.

Wow, and we complain about one stopover in Singapore.

In 1947, the Lockheed 749 Constellation ‘Charles Kingsford Smith’ made the first flight with 29 passengers onboard and 2,000 lbs of food parcels, gifts from Qantas employees to their colleagues in post-war Britain.

They flew under the command of Captain Ken Jackson, with the airfare price tag coming in around £325 one way (about AU$575 in today’s currency).

At the time, this fare was the equivalent of 130 weeks’ average wage compared to less than two weeks’ now.


Qantas’ Sydney to London service was the longest scheduled air route in the world at the time. When Qantas’ Perth – London service launches in March 2018, it’s expected to be the third longest passenger flight in the world.

Following the launch of this service, Qantas also introduced its first female cabin crew members. There were 2000 applications for just nine places when recruitment began in late 1947.

Check them out!

QF Flight Attendants 1948

A Qantas spokesperson said, “The Kangaroo Route has been central to the Qantas identity since we launched the service 70 years ago.

“What used to take seven stops onboard a Lockheed Constellation and Super Constellation in the 1940s and 50s, later progressed to the one stopover when the 747 and A380 joined the fleet.

“The single, non-stop hop was a dream for the Qantas founders in outback Queensland in 1920; and we’re proud that we can make their dream come true.

“As we prepare for our first non-stop 787-9 services between Perth and London in March 2018, it’s a good time to reflect on how far we’ve come.

“The single hop from Australia to Europe is another milestone for Qantas and marks the first time the two continents have been directly linked by air.

“Looking beyond our non-stop Perth – London flights, we’re also exploring the opportunity that ultralong-haul travel brings, and we’ve challenged both Airbus and Boeing to develop an aircraft capable of travelling to London from the east-coast of Australia.

“They have both stepped up to the challenge and are confident they can deliver aircraft capable of flying these distances by 2022.”

Have a squiz at the original aircraft here:

Lockheed Constellation Qantas 1948

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