100 years of business travel

Over the next few weeks we will be looking at some of the best moments in business travel over the past 100 years. From the chance meeting that led to the formation of Sabre, to the first air stewardesses and how a flight to California led to McDonald’s expanding to the fast-food giant it is today…

American Express Global Business Travel is sharing 100 business travel stories from global companies that resulted in the partnerships, discoveries, epiphanies and moments of inspiration that helped shape the modern world.

BBT brings you highlights of the first 40 years with the next 60 to come over the next few weeks. Such as in 1953, C.R. Smith, president of American Airlines and R. Blair Smith, a senior sales representative for IBM, were introduced on a flight by a flight attendant. The two men were seated next to each other and spent the next several hours talking. During that flight they would agree on the framework of Sabre Corporation, which was co-founded by American Airlines and IBM in 1960.

A list from the first 40 years can be viewed here and there is also a microsite highlighting the best moments in more detail.

Another example: On August 18 1919, Hudson Fysh and Paul McGinnes piled into a Model T nicknamed ‘Molly’ to begin what would be an arduous 51-day, 1,350-mile trip across the Australian Outback to survey a route for an upcoming air race. While they completed their original task, their travels helped them come to the realisation of how important air travel would be to transporting mail, passengers and freight over sparsley populated lands. In 1920, the duo founded QANTAS, which still operates as the world’s second oldest airline.

“We are very proud of our brand heritage and it’s amazing to think that our company’s roots in travel date back to the time these remarkable journeys were taking place,” said Bill Glenn, President and CEO of American Express Global Business Travel. “It’s incredible to see that at every turn, or new rising need, travel responded and evolved to enable business growth and expansion. The business travel industry is what it is today because of the entrepreneurial spirit and perseverance of some of the individuals and companies featured in the series.”

GBT partnered with historians from research firm History Associates, which has curated exhibits for museums around the country, including the Smithsonian.

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