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Did You Know? First Commercial Flight in the U.S.

May 5, 2008 | Posted in: Airline News

Where and when was the first commercial flight in America? Most historians agree it took place on January 1, 1914, in Florida.

The airline was called the St. Petersburg-Tampa Air Line, and for good reason: flights began in St. Petersburg and ended up in Tampa. Not surprisingly, the trips didn’t take long — just 23 minutes from start to finish. There wasn’t much of a view, either: altitude was just 15-feet.

So what did it cost? It wasn’t cheap, as you’ll see when you keep reading…

The first passenger (and only passenger on the flight — since there was only room for one passenger) was a former mayor of St. Petersburg named Abram Pheil. He actually bid for the glory of traveling on the inaugural flight — and Pheil’s winning bid was $400.

The normal price of the flight was a rather stiff $175 round-trip. But, at least passengers back then didn’t have to worry about the crazy fuel prices.

$175 in 1914 would equate to about $3600 today.

4 Responses to “Did You Know? First Commercial Flight in the U.S.”

  1. Steve Filson says:

    Rick, most people would be surprised to know that de-regulation didn’t start in 1978. The industry started “de-regulated” from 1914 forward and for over two decades in a completely market driven environment before it was regulated in 1938.


  2. Rick Seaney says:

    Hi Steve,
    I learn something new every day, which makes my job quite fun :)

  3. Dana says:

    What would the $175 airfare in 1914 translate to today in 2008 dollars?

  4. Rick Seaney says:

    Approximately $3600 …

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