England’s Dan-Air was an independent charter and scheduled airline that operated the largest fleet of de Havilland Comet 4 aircraft in the world. Between 1966 and 1976 they owned 49 examples of this aircraft.
Like most airlines in the UK, it was eventually purchased by British Airways in 1992 after financial difficulties. Just 114 Comet 4 aircraft were built. What were they like?
Comet 4 Seat Plan
Dan-Air operated the aircraft in an all economy class configuration. Below is a seating plan from 1969 and you will immediately see there is a notable difference in how seats are numbered compared to today.
Seats are numbered like a theatre, starting at 1 and ending at 106. I imagine it worked just as well as the current system, though perhaps people were more inclined to wonder if their seat was an aisle, middle or window since there’s no way to tell.
Inside A Dan-Air Comet 4
The National Museum of Flight at East Fortune in Scotland is not only home to British Airways Concorde G-BOAA. There are many aircraft to visit, including a Dan-Air Comet 4. The flight deck is old school as these aircraft entered service in 1958 with BOAC.
As this aircraft was retired in 1980, it retains its funky 1970s interior. Flying as a passenger was certainly different to today! The front row seats face each other which is interesting.
Of course back then you could smoke on board aircraft and it is divided into smoking and non-smoking sections. What is also fun is that windows feature curtains rather than the plastic blinds of today.
Everything is rather manual, such as the switches on the flight attendants panel. No modern LCD screens or whiz bang technology on this old bird.
The Worst Seat In The House
Down the back is a row of seats that not only have leg room that would make Ryanair wince, but they are also missing a window. I give you the worst seats I’ve ever seen.
Imagine being crammed into the middle seat there on a two hour flight. Not a lot of fun! The leg room is actually pretty tight throughout the aircraft.
It is probably a good thing that passengers had individual air vents. That would probably be a big help for the claustrophobic people who were travelling!
Whenever people say flying was better back in the day, I take it with a pinch of salt. I’ve been to the museums and seen some of the seats and configurations that were available and I’d argue we’re living in the golden age now.
Aviation was more interesting back in the day as there were more manufacturers producing different kinds of aircraft. Plus you had visible technological advances on a regular basis which would have been fun.
As a passenger I am glad I am flying now and not then though! Did you ever fly with Dan-Air or remember their Comets? Thank you for reading and please leave any comments or questions below.
Featured image by Piergiuliano Chesi via Wikimedia Commons.
Dan-Air seat map via Facebook.