BOAC’s inaugural Trans-Siberian flight in 1970Back to Forum
Previously I mentioned the fact that London-Tokyo flights used to take a long time in the days before the Soviet Union granted overflying rights to foreign carriers.
I myself recall my flight via Anchorage with KLM’s DC-10 in the mid-1970s.
When BOAC and other carriers started operating the Trans-Siberian route they were required to land in Moscow.
Another requirement was that Western carriers did not deploy wide-bodies like the B747.
Hence the carriers who opted for this route would reserve it for their narrow-body aircraft.
During the 1970s there were no excursion fares between the UK and Japan. It was full fare or nothing. I remember at the time that the lowest economy fare was around £800 return.
The inauguration of BOAC’s Trans-Siberian Route from London to Tokyo via Moscow, 2 June 1970. The service took a little over 14hrs, compared to 17hr 30min on the Polar route.
The 10hr 10min 4,667-mile sector between Moscow & Tokyo was the longest on the BOAC network at the time. pic.twitter.com/nfancmVGPQ
— Captain Brent 🇬🇧 (@Birdseed501) September 3, 20213 Sep 2021
A wonderful clip – thank you for posting, Alex.
In those days it seems everyone travelled with an airline cabin bag. I think they were complimentary for First Class passengers. The seating configuration on this B707 looks as if it’s 2-2 throughout the cabin. I thought that was only First class, with 3-3 in economy.3 Sep 2021
Hence London-Tokyo had to be flown by B707.
Our VC-10, as great as it was, did not have the range to fly non-stop Moscow-Tokyo (and probably some of the other sectors you mentioned too).
When BOAC operated its Super VC-10 to Sydney via the USA and transpacific it would make several en route stops.
Lacking the range to fly London-Los Angeles non-stop it would route via New York JFK.9 Sep 2021
Over 60 years ago, at less than 6 years old, we moved to a new house, and there was a boy living next door who was the same age as me.
His father was a BOAC Captain, flying 707’s. As he prepared for a trip, we would watch him polish his shoes, put his epaulettes onto his shirt, brush his cap, and put on his tie, in awe of the fact that he was jetting off to New York, Hong Kong or some far flung exotic destination.
It seemed then to be an extra ordinarily privileged way of earning a living, with trips often lasting two weeks.
He moved on to VC10’s, and eventually 747 Classics before retiring.
In my later years I got totally used to spending a full day in the office, and then flying off to SIN, HKG, JFK or SYD without a second thought, and probably being back home within 4 or 5 days.
How flying changed in such a short period.9 Sep 2021
BOAC also flew 707’s from Tokyo to Honolulu and San Francisco – and at one point to Johannesburg via Hong Kong and Seychelles
BA did indeed fly between Johannesburg and Tokyo. The routing was Johannesburg-Seychelles-Colombo-Hong Kong and vv. The Hong Kong-Tokyo sector was technically a separate flight under a modified flight number. Probably this would have been because BA would not have had any traffic rights under any bilateral air treaty between South Africa and Japan to fly directly between Johannesburg and Tokyo. The service began in or about 1973 (about a year or so after the airport on Mahe Island was opened), and lasted until about the mid-1980s. The flights were operated by a VC10, not a B707.9 Sep 2021