British Airways is the UK’s largest airline, but do you know much about its history? Here are 6 facts you didn’t know about British Airways:
Their first flight only carried one passenger.
British Airways has been around for a long time. The airline’s first flight took off from Hounslow Heath in 1919, and carried just one passenger. What else was on the plane? Well strangely enough, the plane’s cargo included newspapers, Devonshire cream, jam and grouse.
The company has come a long way since then, and has had a lot more ‘firsts’ to add to its historical timeline. It was the first airline to introduce an inflight meal service in 1927, and they now serve around 100,000 meals a day to customers. In 2000 it was the first airline to install fully flatbed seats in business class, and in 2008 the airline’s first female pilot, Captain Lynn Barton, landed the first plane at Heathrow Airport’s brand new Terminal 5.
What happens if you die on-board?
This is much less likely to happen nowadays, but it was recently revealed that passengers who passed away on British Airways flights used to be given sunglasses, a vodka and tonic, and a copy of the Daily Mail to disguise their death from other passengers. Flight attendants say that now the procedure would be to cover them respectfully with a blanket, but fellow passengers are still likely to be nervous if their neighbour is being just a little too quiet on a flight!
Female pilots are still rare.
Only 5% of British Airways’ pilots are female – that’s just 200 out of the 4,000 pilots employed by the airline. In fact this is still above the national average for pilots, but it’s a problem the airline is keen to remedy. Female pilots report that they’re often mistaken for cabin crew, as passengers still make an assumption that pilots are all male. British Airways is now actively recruiting more female pilots to try to balance the statistics, and challenge this stereotype.
Their theme song is the ‘Flower Duet’.
The theme song you will no doubt have heard on many British Airways adverts is called the ‘Flower Duet’, and is from an opera called Lakme. One particular advert which has become a classic in advertising history, is the British Airways ‘face advert’, in which a smiling face was formed by a crowd of people. This was made by advertising firm Saatchi and Saatchi. You can tell the advert is a classic, because it has been parodied a number of times by other companies, including Hotpoint and Australia’s Carlton Draught beer.
35 million cups of tea are served every year.
Did you know that British Airways serves 35 million cups of tea to passengers every year? The airline carries over 40 million customers every year and, as well as tea, serves 36.5 million meals and 3.7 million bottles of wine. Not a bad achievement for an airline that started out with just one passenger!
Pilot Polly and Pilot Ollie’s Amazing Adventures.
It might seem unlikely, but a British Airways pilot has written a series of children’s books. The books are about the ‘Amazing Adventures of Pilot Ollie and Pilot Polly’. Captain Rob Johnson decided to write the books for his two young sons, who were always interested to hear about his experiences of flying to different countries for British Airways. The stories are designed to educate kids about flying, as well as about the culture and history of different cities, which the two pilots visit.
Have you flown with British Airways? If so what did you like or not like about the flight? Please discuss in the comments box below