Fantastic Belgian Passport 1949 SABENA Stewardess

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In the post-war year of 1949, as Europe was still recovering from the ravages of World War II, a young and adventurous SABENA airline stewardess named Irene embarked on a journey through the western zones of the continent. This treasure is FOR SALE! Belgian Passport SABENA Stewardess

SABENA Airlines

Sabena, short for Société Anonyme Belge d’Exploitation de la Navigation Aérienne, was the national airline of Belgium and played a crucial role in connecting war-torn Europe.

Meet Irene Urbain Belgian Passport SABENA Stewardess

Irene Urbain-25 years young, clad in the iconic SABENA uniform, boarded a DC-4 aircraft that would take her across the skies of Western Europe. The airline, founded in 1923, had a rich history of providing air travel services and was known for its commitment to excellence and safety.

SABENA Stewardess, 25 years young Irene Urbain
SABENA Stewardess, 25 years young Irene Urbain

As the plane soared above the landscapes scarred by war, Irene couldn’t help but reflect on the significance of her role. SABENA has been instrumental in the reconstruction efforts, facilitating the movement of people and goods across borders. The airline had a strong sense of responsibility to help heal the wounds of war and bridge the gaps that had emerged.

Traveling Europe in 1949/50

Irene started from Brussels, the heart of Belgium and SABENA’s hub. The city was still recovering, but there was an undeniable spirit of resilience and hope. Irene, with her warm smile and impeccable service, brought a touch of comfort to the passengers aboard. The DC-4 continued its journey, touching down in cities like the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Germany (British Military Control), Austria and Switzerland, each with its own story of rebuilding and renewal. Belgian Passport SABENA Stewardess

In Paris, the City of Light, Irene explored the historic streets and savored the newfound sense of liberation. The passengers, a mix of locals and international travelers, shared tales of post-war struggles and the gradual return to normalcy. SABENA’s flights became a symbol of unity, linking nations and fostering a sense of solidarity.


In Germany, Irene experienced a unique chapter of post-war reconstruction. The scars of conflict were still visible, but there was an undeniable spirit of determination and renewal. As the SABENA aircraft touched down in cities like Frankfurt, Cologne, and Munich, Irene witnessed the rebuilding efforts firsthand.

As she continued her journey, she served passengers with grace and became a witness to the rebuilding of a continent. SABENA’s commitment to excellence in service and safety played a pivotal role in restoring normalcy and fostering a sense of unity in Western Europe during those challenging post-war years. The airline’s legacy endured, leaving an indelible mark on the history of aviation and the recovery of a continent.

A Treasure Belgian Passport SABENA Stewardess

The 1949 travel document of a SABENA airline stewardess, adorned with visas and stamps from various European countries, is not just a historical passport gem but also a notable piece of aviation history. It is highly sought after by both passport collectors and airline enthusiasts.

Noteworthy is the scarce AMGOT visa for the Western Zones issued in 1950 at the Brussels Travel Permit office of the Allied Military Forces, complete with a $USD 2 revenue stamp.

The Passport Belgian Passport SABENA Stewardess

Never before I have seen a passport of an airline stewardess in uniform. Hence, this travel document is indeed a collectible treasure.

SABENA History

SABENA, Société Anonyme Belge d’Exploitation de la Navigation Aérienne, holds a storied history as the national airline of Belgium. Established in 1923, it quickly became a vital player in European aviation, connecting Belgium with the world. SABENA’s early years were marked by pioneering achievements, such as the introduction of the first European night airmail service in 1928.

WWI + Post War

As World War II erupted, SABENA faced unprecedented challenges. German occupation led to the suspension of its operations, and its fleet was requisitioned. Post-war, the airline played a crucial role in rebuilding Europe’s air travel infrastructure. In 1946, SABENA resumed international flights, contributing to the continent’s recovery. Belgian Passport SABENA Stewardess

During the 1950s and 1960s, SABENA expanded its network globally, offering flights to Africa, the Americas, and Asia. The introduction of jet airliners, such as the Boeing 707, marked a new era of speed and efficiency for the airlines.


However, financial turbulence and increasing competition took a toll on SABENA in the late 20th century. Despite efforts to modernize the fleet and streamline operations, the airline faced financial challenges. In 2001, SABENA declared bankruptcy, marking the end of an era in Belgian aviation.


SABENA’s legacy lives on as a symbol of Belgium’s early aviation prowess and its role in connecting nations during both prosperous and challenging times. The airline’s impact on European aviation history remains significant, influencing the development and growth of the global airline industry.

Belgium, Diplomatic passports 1954


FAQ Passport History
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1. What are the earliest known examples of passports, and how have they evolved?

The word "passport" came up only in the mid 15th Century. Before that, such documents were safe conducts, recommendations or protection letters. On a practical aspect, the earliest passport I have seen was from the mid 16th Century. Read more...

2. Are there any notable historical figures or personalities whose passports are highly sought after by collectors?

Every collector is doing well to define his collection focus, and yes, there are collectors looking for Celebrity passports and travel documents of historical figures like Winston Churchill, Brothers Grimm, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Read more...

3. How did passport designs and security features change throughout different periods in history, and what impact did these changes have on forgery prevention?

"Passports" before the 18th Century had a pure functional character. Security features were, in the best case, a watermark and a wax seal. Forgery, back then, was not an issue like it is nowadays. Only from the 1980s on, security features became a thing. A state-of-the-art passport nowadays has dozens of security features - visible and invisible. Some are known only by the security document printer itself. Read more...

4. What are some of the rarest and most valuable historical passports that have ever been sold or auctioned?

Lou Gehrig, Victor Tsoi, Marilyn Monroe, James Joyce, and Albert Einstein when it comes to the most expensive ones. Read more...

5. How do diplomatic passports differ from regular passports, and what makes them significant to collectors?

Such documents were often held by officials in high ranks, like ambassadors, consuls or special envoys. Furthermore, these travel documents are often frequently traveled. Hence, they hold a tapestry of stamps or visas. Partly from unusual places.

6. Can you provide insights into the stories behind specific historical passports that offer unique insights into past travel and migration trends?

A passport tells the story of its bearer and these stories can be everything - surprising, sad, vivid. Isabella Bird and her travels (1831-1904) or Mary Kingsley, a fearless Lady explorer.

7. What role did passports play during significant historical events, such as wartime travel restrictions or international treaties?

During war, a passport could have been a matter of life or death. Especially, when we are looking into WWII and the Holocaust. And yes, during that time, passports and similar documents were often forged to escape and save lives. Example...

8. How has the emergence of digital passports and biometric identification impacted the world of passport collecting?

Current modern passports having now often a sparkling, flashy design. This has mainly two reasons. 1. Improved security and 2. Displaying a countries' heritage, icons, and important figures or achievements. I can fully understand that those modern documents are wanted, especially by younger collectors.

9. Are there any specialized collections of passports, such as those from a specific country, era, or distinguished individuals?

Yes, the University of Western Sidney Library has e.g. a passport collection of the former prime minister Hon Edward Gough Whitlam and his wife Margaret. They are all diplomatic passports and I had the pleasure to apprise them. I hold e.g. a collection of almost all types of the German Empire passports (only 2 types are still missing). Also, my East German passport collection is quite extensive with pretty rare passport types.

10. Where can passport collectors find reliable resources and reputable sellers to expand their collection and learn more about passport history?

A good start is eBay, Delcampe, flea markets, garage or estate sales. The more significant travel documents you probably find at the classic auction houses. Sometimes I also offer documents from my archive/collection. See offers... As you are already here, you surely found a great source on the topic 😉

Other great sources are: Scottish Passports, The Nansen passport, The secret lives of diplomatic couriers

11. Is vintage passport collecting legal? What are the regulations and considerations collectors should know when acquiring historical passports?

First, it's important to stress that each country has its own laws when it comes to passports. Collecting old vintage passports for historical or educational reasons is safe and legal, or at least tolerated. More details on the legal aspects are here...

Does this article spark your curiosity about passport collecting and the history of passports? With this valuable information, you have a good basis to start your own passport collection.

Question? Contact me...