Sometimes it seems as if the airlines of today are playing catch-up with the airlines of yesteryear.
Carriers such as Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Qatar have all recently unveiled first-class and business-class suites featuring beds in compartments – but vintage pictures reveal that this kind of luxury was standard in the 1930s, and on flying boats no less.
Of course, they were much noisier, but these incredible machines featured plush armchairs, dining rooms festooned with fine china, dressing rooms and separate bathrooms for men and women.
A Boeing 314 Clipper flying boat owned by Pan Am called Yankee Clipper. It sits in the water off Calshot Castle in Southampton in the UK after completing a transatlantic crossing
The Hawaii Clipper flying boat is greeted on its first arrival in the Philippines from San Francisco in October 1936
And even honeymoon suites.
Flying boats had a special fuselage that meant they were capable of landing and taking off on water – not to be confused with floatplanes, which use pontoons for buoyancy – and have their origins in the 19th century.
The first patent for a flying machine with a boat hull was filed by Frenchman Alphonse Pénaud in 1876.
The flying boats looked very different to the airlines of today, with the rich and glamorous travelling in luxury surroundings
When food was served on board, wealthy passengers were able to sit at restaurant-style tables and chairs and eat their meals using fine china
Hull of a way to travel: The clubhouse-style interior of the Clipper Yankee. US president Franklin D Roosevelt and UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill are both known to have used Clipper services
But it was in the 1930s that they really took off, with Pan Am and the former British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) operating ‘Clippers’ built by the Glenn L Martin Company and Boeing that took travellers across the Atlantic and to the far-flung islands of the Pacific.
Suddenly, journeys that would have taken weeks by boat became overnight trips.
But they weren’t cheap.
A one-way ticket from San Francisco to Hong Kong could cost as much $760, the equivalent of up to $13,000 (£9,600) today.
But for that money passengers were cocooned in flying hotels.
Unsurprisingly, the services attracted passengers with global status, with US president Franklin D Roosevelt and UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill both known to have used Clipper services.
A boy and a girl pass the time by playing a game on board the Pan Am Martin Clipper
The flying boats also came complete with bunk beds in sleeping compartments with some aircraft even having honeymoon suites on them. Pictured left is a passenger being served breakfast in bed
Two passengers playing chess in a Pan American Clipper seaplane in October 1936. These planes plied the Pacific routes between San Francisco and Hong Kong, Hawaii, and Manila
But the outbreak of the Second World War slowed down the production of the flying boats – and flying technology advanced.
By the end of the war, more airports were built with longer runways meaning planes did not need to land in the sea – almost rendering the flying boats useless.
And in 1946, the California Clipper became the last Pan Am flying boat to be retired after clocking up more than one million flight miles.
Passengers relax in the main salon on the Pan Am Martin Clipper. A one-way ticket from San Francisco to Hong Kong could cost as much $760, the equivalent of up to $13,000 (£9,600) today
A flight attendant prepares the meals on board a Pan Am clipper. The outbreak of the Second World War slowed down the production of the flying boats
Most of the Boeing 314 fleet was then scrapped bar three of the aircraft, which were lost to accidents.
However, the only one that resulted in fatalities was in 1943 when the Yankee Clipper crashed on landing at Cabo Ruivo Seaplane Base in Lisbon.
The crash killed 24 of the 39 on board, including prominent American author and war correspondent Benjamin Robertson.
Now the only way to get a taste of life on a flying boat is to visit the life-size mock-up at the Foynes Boat Museum in County Limerick in Ireland.
THE GERMAN FLYING BOAT THAT WAS THE BIGGEST IN THE WORLD
It wasn’t just Pan Am and BOAC that had flying boats in their fleets.
Germany also had its own flying boat called the Dornier Do X that was the largest, heaviest and most powerful to be ever produced when it was built first built in 1929.
It was ordered to be developed by the German Transport Ministry as a way of circumnavigating the Treaty of Versailles, which banned Germany from developing certain types of aircraft after the First World War.
A Dornier Do X flight powers over the water during a test run near Berlin. The aircraft was the largest flying boat in the world
Like the later versions of flying boats by Boeing, the cabins were pure luxury for passengers set over three decks.
They included a smoking room, a dining salon and seating for up to 66 passengers, which could be converted to sleeping berths for night flights.
But despite being popular with the public, commercial airlines had little interest in the model and only three were ever built.
The cabins on board the Dornier Do X were also pure luxury, with special dining rooms and salons that were decorated with Persian rugs