Travel bag, Australian National Airways, fabric / metal, made by Apec, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia, 1950-1957
This travel bag is an example of the promotional items that were given away by Australian airlines to encourage customer loyalty in the 1950s. There was fierce competition between the two major airlines in Australia at the time.
It appears to have been a gift to a passenger travelling on Australian National Airways Pty Ltd (ANA) flights and may have been a promotional attraction. At the time of their use Australian commercial aviation was governed by the Civil Aviation Agreement Act - 1952, otherwise known as the Two Airline Policy which ensured that only two airlines, Australian National Airways Pty Ltd (ANA) and Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA), operated the major trunk routes within Australia. ANA was a privately owned airline while TAA was owned by the Federal Government. Prior to the 1952 Act ANA had criticised the operation of TAA as unfair competition because the latter was the favoured airline to carry public servants and the mails. Although the Civil Aviation Agreement Act - 1952 ensured that the competition between the two airlines became a 'level playing field' with both sharing the mails and government business there was still an element of competition to entice customers to one or other of the airlines.
As ANA had its travel bag as an apparent incentive so TAA also had a similar product; exactly the same size as the ANA bag and made by the same company, Apec, in Fitzroy in Melbourne, but in blue vinyl with the TAA logo in the bottom right hand corner of the bag. It appears that the 'level playing field' extended even to the airline's promotions and enticements.
The ANA bag represents the period when ANA, the largest privately owned airline in Australia at the time existed, prior to its purchase by Reginald Ansett, thus becoming Ansett ANA, and the period of operation of the Two Airline Policy where ANA and TAA were regulated to ensure that they competed on an equal footing.
C. Arthur Butler, Flying Start: the history of the first five decades of civil aviation in Australia, (Edwards & Shaw, Sydney, 1971), p.98.
The travel bag was manufactured by Apec of 110 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria. This company no longer exists.
One of two Australian National Airways travel bags given to the donor, Mrs Joan Baggs, by Mrs Jane Clumeck, a close friend. Mrs Baggs concludes that Mrs Clumeck received the travel bags for flights from Sydney to Melbourne, travelling to attend conferences of the Theosophical Society.
Mrs Clumeck was an American citizen born in San Francisco in 1909. Her father was a diamond importer. She, with her daughter Jean, managed to escape from Singapore on one of the last ships to leave as the Japanese approached down the Malayan Peninsula in 1941. She remained in Australia. Mrs Baggs met Mrs Clumeck at "The Manor", 2-10 Iluka Road, Mosman, then the headquarters of the Theosophical Society. The travel bags came into Mrs Baggs' possession as a result of helping to clean out Mrs Clumeck's flat. Mrs Baggs used the bags to hold sewing material.
Originally founded in New York in 1875 with a section established in Australia in 1895, the Theosophical Society has three aims: 1. To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour; 2. To encourage the study of comparative religion, philosophy and science and 3. To investigate unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in the human being.
Former ANA cabin staff were unable to assist with much information about the use of these travel bags. Although aware of them they considered them too small for use as overnight bags and too large for a cosmetics case. They did not contain in-flight information such as route maps or other ephemeral souvenirs as these were contained in the aircraft seat pockets. It is possible that they were given only to passengers who purchased tickets from the major ANA capital city offices. ANA offered only one class on their services during the 1950s so they were not a gift to premium passengers. They may have been available only to inter-capital passengers.
Perhaps the size of the bags was significant in their lack of use by passengers as 'walk-on' baggage and hence generally unfamiliar to airline cabin staff. Being too small as overnight baggage and too large for cosmetics the bags may have remained at the homes of the travellers and put to other uses such as Mrs Baggs' use of them as containers for sewing material. Businessmen would have carried their papers in their briefcases rather than transfer them to the ANA travel bag and there may have been a resistance to the thought of a business professional carrying his business papers in a fabric bag bearing an airline logo rather than a fine leather brief or attaché case.
Later, the production of larger vinyl carry bags bearing airline logos became common during the 1960s and 70s but these bags were bigger and more utilitarian than the ANA travel bags and these decades saw a wider cross section of the Australian public travelling by air such that there was less stigma to using bag bearing an airline logo as 'walk-on' baggage.