Air France Celebrates 60 Years of Flying Across the Atlantic

Paris-based Air France is toasting the 60th anniversary of its direct service between New York and Paris.

The celebration is a stunning reminder of how mass air travel has not only shrunk the world, but made it possible for people with ordinary incomes to visit faraway places.

In 1946, the Paris-New York flight carried just 86 passengers and took 19 hours and 50 minutes, including refueling stops.

Rarefied Air Back Then

The ticket price: $500 in 1946. Allowing for inflation that ticket price today would be $5,192.31.

The median family income in those days was only $3,031. That meant the average family then would have had to work 2½ months to pay for just one round-trip ticket to Paris.

In 1946, Air France carried 7,000 passengers across the Atlantic. Last year, 1.5 million flew over the Atlantic courtesy of the airline.