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Vintage photos reveal what flying in First Class was like in the 1930s

NOWADAYS, tens of millions of people travel every year by plane for business and pleasure.

But 80 years ago, commercial plane travel was a whole different ball game.

In the 1930s, flying was only for the rich and famous — although there was a boom in aviation during the decade.

From 1930 to 1934 alone, the number of passengers flying with airlines in America shot up from 6,000 to 450,000, rising again to 1.2 million in 1938.

First Class back in the 1930s was a very dignified affair. Courtesy: CSU Archives/Everett Collection Picture: Alamy

First Class back in the 1930s was a very dignified affair. Courtesy: CSU Archives/Everett Collection Picture: AlamySource:Alamy

A passenger eats breakfast on United Airline's Douglas Mainliner Sleeper aeroplane from Chicago to San Francisco, 1937. Picture: Alamy

A passenger eats breakfast on United Airline’s Douglas Mainliner Sleeper aeroplane from Chicago to San Francisco, 1937. Picture: AlamySource:Alamy

The planes were pretty basic though.

It was wise to stay strapped into your seat at all times because aircraft would often drop hundreds of feet suddenly and with no warning.

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Passengers would also have been very chilly, as there was very little heating on the planes.

The noise was deafening from the machines too, and cabin crew would often resort to shouting at passengers over megaphones so they could be heard.

While it was cold, loud and still very dangerous, flying in the 1930s was incredibly stylish for those who could afford it.

Passengers play cards on United Airline's Skylounge Mainliner, 1937. Courtesy: CSU Archives/Everett Collection Picture: Alamy

Passengers play cards on United Airline’s Skylounge Mainliner, 1937. Courtesy: CSU Archives/Everett Collection Picture: AlamySource:Alamy

A steward aboard the giant flying-boat, 'Canopus' serves breakfast to a passenger in a lower bunk. The Canopus could cruise at 200mph and carried 16 passengers in night stages. Photo: General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

A steward aboard the giant flying-boat, ‘Canopus’ serves breakfast to a passenger in a lower bunk. The Canopus could cruise at 200mph and carried 16 passengers in night stages. Photo: General Photographic Agency/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Travellers would be treated to three-course meals at tablecloths covered with linen and they would even be allowed to sleep on a flight — some sleeper planes had up to 20 beds.

While air travel was considerably quicker than travelling by land, it still too a very long time.

A trip from London to Singapore would take around eight days because of the refuelling stops required.

It wasn’t cheap either — that journey would cost $290, which works out at around $17,800 in today’s money.

This article originally appeared in The Sun and was republished with permission.

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