New Qantas museum exhibit recalls the 747 ‘space’ age

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April 22, 2021
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An image of the Qantas replica from the airline's 100th anniversary video.

A replica of a 1970s Boeing 747-200 first-class inflight lounge installed in the Qantas Founders Museum harkens back to a time when flying was expensive but still a spacious adventure.

The custom-made replica was built for the airline’s centenary safety video and will feature in the main exhibition hall of the museum in Longreach, Queensland.

It was built to scale using original aircraft wall panels taken from a retired Qantas 747-200 in the Mojave Desert and features meticulously recreated fabrics and the vivid colors of the decade.

READ: Qantas asks $1 billion for extra legroom.

Qantas donated funds raised from its 747 retirement joy flights to help cover installation costs.

The Flying Kangaroo took delivery of its first B747-200 aircraft in 1971 with a nautical themed upper deck lounge for first-class customers that was accessed by spiral stairs.

The lounge had space for 15 passengers, a cocktail bar and included seats that swiveled 360 degrees.

It was an exclusive retreat for first-class passengers to enjoy a drink or two, smoke, dine on prawn cocktails and socialize in style.

But all good things come to end and the lounge was replaced in 1979 when Qantas introduced business class on the 747.

The photograph below shows what it looked like at the time.

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And here’s the spiral staircase.

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In economy, passengers luxuriated in a 2-4-3 interior with seats set 36 inches apart – this really was the “space” age.

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But Qantas was not the only airline to look at gracing the spectacular new aircraft with lounges.

Even before it rolled out in September 1968,  airline interior designers were scratching their heads on how to use the enormous space that the 747 provided.

Lounges, piano bars, cocktail bars, and downstairs galleys were all on the cards with  American Airlines kicking things off with this bar situated at the back of the economy section.

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Continental Airlines, now part of United, also had an economy lounge (below).

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And not to be left out Trans World Airlines also had an economy (coach) lounge (below).

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Meanwhile, Qantas has released a commemorative gin using botanicals sourced from the central-western Queensland region that is home to Longreach.

The gin from distiller Four Pillars features indigenous ingredients such as lemongrass, macadamia and lemon myrtle and celebrates the airline’s 100 years of history.

This includes a label with grey stripes to replicate the vertical corrugated iron from the original Qantas hangar at Longreach.

Over the coming months, Qantas will feature the gin in a signature centenary cocktail named the “Longreach Fizz” for customers visiting the Qantas International First lounges in Sydney and Melbourne, the Brisbane International Lounge (which recently reopened as part of the two-way bubble with New Zealand) as well as the six domestic Chairman’s lounges.

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Image: Qantas