Ireland’s Aer Lingus is celebrating 60 years of transatlantic flying, their diamond anniversary. It all started when an Aerlínte Éireann Lockheed L1049 Super Constellation flew from Dublin to New York via Shannon.
Aer Lingus is now a major presence crossing the Atlantic Ocean, with 13 destinations served between Ireland and the United States. Since Ireland has US Preclearance, passengers land as though they are domestic passengers, making for a very easy arrival stateside.
60 Years Ago On A Lockheed Constellation
The beautiful Lockheed Constellation opened up long range flying for a number of airlines. Powered by piston engines and propellers, airlines such as Qantas and TWA used the aircraft for their international routes.
On the inaugural service from Ireland, the aircraft carried 99 passengers and 6 crew which is a far cry from the 300 plus on today’s Airbus A330 aircraft on the routes.
An Air Hostess Remembers
Back then, it was common to refer to cabin crew members as Air Hostesses. When I was a kid, my Mum and Dad would still refer to them as hostesses, then they became flight attendants or cabin crew. Lily O’Connell was an Aer Lingus crew member back then and she remembers things as follows.
“Becoming an ‘air hostess’ was my dream job, it was always my number one. When I was flying back then we would fly from Dublin to Shannon and pick up passengers at both airports and then fly to New York. I loved the passengers, everyone was just so friendly and lovely. There was great excitement in the air.”
“I remember the Americans on board coming to ‘I-R-Land’, as they called it, they were so excited to be meeting their Irish family connections for the first time. For Irish people flying home – they had saved for months for the air fare as they were so expensive back then so it was just lovely on board, everyone was in great spirits.”
“My highlight was when I went to Maine in America as part of a publicity trip – I remember bringing part of a Christmas tree home to Shannon Airport which sounds a bit mad now – I think it was a gift or something. I was in the papers and I even was on TV in Maine – that was wonderful.”
Flying today is very different than 60 years ago. The current flat bed seats and individual entertainment at each seat just weren’t part of it. While earlier aircraft did have sleeping berths, these were done away with upon the advent of jet travel as it was so fast.
It is great to see airlines with a long history celebrating that fact. Air Hostesses, Pilots and other airline staff have a wealth of stories to tell about their flying years, and reading them is something I quite enjoy.
Did you ever fly on a Constellation? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
All images via Aer Lingus.