Flying from Chicago to Frankfurt, Germany in 1984
August 19, 2018 7:48 PM   Subscribe

I am writing a story that involves flying from Chicago to Frankfort in 1984 on Lufthansa Airlines. Would anyone be able to tell me the cost of a round trip plane ticket for a such a flight? Or suggest a helpful source? I have Goggled like crazy and not been able to find the information I need. Thank you very much!
posted by Ira Weston to Travel & Transportation around Frankfurt, Germany (9 answers total)
I immediately thought of the Flyertalk forums. I didn't find your answer, but I did find this, which casts doubt on whether Lufthansa even flew to the US in 1984 (could be just referring to that specific plane). I found that thread by searching the Lufthansa forum for "1984."
posted by AFABulous at 8:01 PM on August 19, 2018

i'd go to the internet archive book/text archive. they have a lot of newspapers, including ads, and a full text search.
posted by zippy at 8:04 PM on August 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It would have been $600-1000 probably in the summer. I never flew that exact route or on Lufthansa I flew trans Atlantic quite a lot and even in winter you rarely saw a fare less than $500. I think the first time I got a "bargain" fare was in the early 90s, after de-regulation had been around for a while and it was $450 as I recall in the early summer.

You would call around various travel agents and at some point the 1-800 number places like Cheap Tickets started up, probably the late 80s for those. Student travel got deals too, those were quite good. You went to a travel agent on campus at your college for that. If you did get a deal from one of the phone based agents, you usually had to drive to some ticket warehouse in the middle of nowhere to get you paper tickets so it wasn't always feasible and people would pay a bit more for the convenience of having a travel agent.
posted by fshgrl at 8:20 PM on August 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Lufthansa is the German (West German then) airline. I can't imagine they didn't fly to the U.S. in the 1980s (from Frankfurt, not Berlin).
posted by praemunire at 8:21 PM on August 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

Best answer: $US 600-700 ORD-FRA roundtrips are advertised in various 1984 publications for spring / off-season flights. (Those would be the lowest-lowball teaser fares, and you'd typically pay a little more when you actually booked.) And I think Lufthansa flew DC-10s to Chicago and longer-haul nonstop routes.
posted by holgate at 8:25 PM on August 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

^ speaking of internet archive, I came across this:

Page 25 deals specifically with flights to the US, not from, alas. Might still be of some use?
posted by slater at 8:27 PM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Official Airline Guide was the timetable of flights that I believe included fairs. Here's the WorldCat record to help locate an edition from 1984.
posted by kendrak at 8:41 PM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Departed Flights is a good resource for all sorts of historic flight information, but at the moment they don't show many historic fares on their site. It might be worth contacting the site's maintainer to see if that's something they would be willing and able to look up.
posted by penguinicity at 2:37 AM on August 20, 2018

Response by poster: Good Morning all! Thanks to your responses, I now have the info I need for this part of the story. My story is actually autobiographical. But my memory for a lot of the specifics is greatly lacking. (That same bad memory was on full display at my recent 50th high school class reunion.) I made that exact flight in 1984 but only once. I actually have a copy of my boarding pass (for Lufthansa) and the flight was O'Hare to Frankfort and back. I even have a copy of the Inflight Entertainment guide which shows the inflight movies being "Yentl" & "Educating Rita". (It also shows Douglas DC10's as the largest plane in their fleet.) All that, but nothing about the cost of the ticket (which will be an important part of the story.) Soooooo, again, I thank you all so much for taking the time to share.
posted by Ira Weston at 6:53 AM on August 21, 2018

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