Travel: Amsterdam to Hong Kong

On the morning of 7 June 1964 The Beatles flew from Amsterdam to Hong Kong, a journey which took in refueling stops in several countries and lasted more than 24 hours.

The group first flew back to London Airport where their connecting flight was postponed for an hour to allow them to catch it. Once they were on board the BEA 10.15am flight to Hong Kong began.

The aeroplane made scheduled stops in Zurich, Beirut, Karachi, Calcutta and Bangkok before arriving in Hong Kong. At each airport terminal hordes of fans turned out in the hope of seeing The Beatles, regardless of the time of day or whether the group actually left the plane.

In Beirut local police used fire-fighting foam to hold back hundreds of fans who broke through security and invaded the runway. In Karachi Paul McCartney was mobbed while buying souvenirs at the airport at 2am, forcing him back onto the aeroplane. The only stop which held no drama was at Calcutta, where they managed to disembark for a cup of tea at 6am on 8 June.

While the plane was refueling at Bangkok around 1,000 fans, many wearing school uniform, stormed through the airport chanting ‘Beatles come out!’ The group obliged, signing autographs at the bottom of the aeroplane steps.

On the flight John Lennon and Paul McCartney had a pillow fight, which was filmed by Australian cameraman Mayo Hunter. The footage was shown the following week on the country’s Seven Network shortly after The Beatles’ tour reached Australia.

The best flight I remember was that one to Hong Kong. It took several hours and I remember them saying, ‘Return to your seats, we are approaching Hong Kong.’ I thought, ‘We can’t be there already.’ We’d been sitting on the floor, drinking and taking Preludins for about thirty hours and it seemed like a ten-minute flight.

On all those flights we were still on uppers; that’s what helped us get through, because we’d drink a whisky and Coke with anyone, even if he was the Devil – and charm the pants off him!

George Harrison

Live: Blokker, the Netherlands
The Beatles arrive in Hong Kong
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  1. Steve Monday 21 October 2013

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