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Braathens ASA, until 1997 Braathens South American & Far East Airtransport A/S and trading as Braathens SAFE, is a former Norwegian airline that operated from 1946 until it merged with Scandinavian Airlines Norway to become SAS Braathens in 2004. The airline was based in Oslo, first at Fornebu, later at Gardermoen. It was for most of its life Norway's largest domestic airline.

The airline was founded in 1946 by Ludvig G. Braathen, to provide charter services to South America and the Far East to serve the Braathen Family's shipping operations. During the 1950s, the company changed to become predominantly a domestic airline, supplemented from the 1960s with charter flights to the Mediterranean. Braathens used various Douglas, de Havilland and Fokker aircraft until 1969, when the Boeing 737 was taken into service. The company was owned by the Braathens family until 1994, when it became listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange. Braathens SAFE enjoyed a domestic duopoly, with regulated routes until 1994. In 1997, the Best/Back concept was introduced, along with a cooperation with KLM. With the price war following the 1998 establishment of Color Air, Braathens was weighted with financial problems until the 2004 take-over by SAS. It then operated twenty-six 737s.



Prior to 1998, Braathens had a one-class service. The service included a complimentary meal. Discounted tickets were available with restrictions. Starting 23 March 1998, the airline changed its corporate identify to 'Braathens' and introduced a two-class system onboard its planes. Passengers paying full price were seated in the 'Best' category at the front of the plane. About 70% of the plane was in the Best category, which was located at the front of the plane. Customers flying on this service received complimentary coffee and meals with permanent cutlery, free newspapers and a better seat pitch. Behind the curtain was the 'Back' category, which had no in-flight meals or newspapers and a smaller pitch. However, a meal with coffee and soft drink could be purchased for NOK 45. Back tickets were sold with a discount, but had to be bought at least seven days before travel, and the traveller had to be away over a weekend. Best Super was even cheaper, but had to be ordered at least 14 days in advance and flights on Sundays were not permitted. For Best tickets, there were also some discounted tickets, but these never cost as little as the Back tickets.[1][2]

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