First memory of BA?

Old Jun 10, 18, 11:20 am
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First memory of BA?

My 16 year old cousin is about to visit me in London, flying internationally for the first
time, on BA. He's very excited and I thought that it'd be interesting to hear people's memories of their first ever flight with the airline.

For me, it was in 1993. I was 10. Growing up in Trinidad I was something of an aviation buff. Seeing the BA 747-236 in the old Landor livery, utterly dominating the apron at Piarco at the end of the twice weekly LGW-BGI-POS service had always been thrilling but I'd no expectations of actually getting to fly on it (my parents were young and broke and the only flying I'd done up till then was the 10minute domestic turboprop hop to Tobago).

Life took an unexpected turn after my mother won a postgraduate scholarship to study in The Hague for a year and saved enough of her stipend to fund a two week visit so I could see something of Europe. Talk about thrilling! I spent three months counting down the days to the trip in November.

On the day itself the inbound flight was late, fuelling a private fear that this was all too good to be true and I wouldn't actually be going anywhere. It was a relief when it glided in eventually, a mass of red lights and un PC engine roars. In those days there were no jetways in POS. I still remember my heart thudding as I walked across the tarmac in the dark accompanied by a BA crew member (was flying as a UM), the outlines of my dad and other relatives who'd come to see me off visible against the glaring light of the waving gallery above us.

Three things stood out. The huge illuminated tail fin, looking glorious against the night sky; that weird metallic whine you only hear when you're close to an aircraft and the massive engines. To my alarm the turbofans were turning slowly, presumably to keep the lights and aircon powered, but I wasn't prepared for it and pretty much darted up the stairs. A couple of years before this a mentally disturbed American man had died after climbing into the engine of a BA 747 preparing to taxi at Piarco, a sad event covered extensively by the local media that led to a few childhood nightmares, and even now plane engines fill me with a sort of fascinated dread.

The plane left two hours late due to a tech issue (causing my dad a sleepless night I later discovered) but on board the whole thing flashed by, I was too busy drinking in the other passengers, FAs etc. We eventually took off for BGI where there was a change of crew and my seat mates, an elderly Swiss couple boarded. Spent the rest of the time messing around with the young flyer pack BA used to give to kids and then fell asleep for hours.

Landing at LGW where I was to connect to Amsterdam was a shock. It sounds silly but I'd grown up associating the 747 with BA. It simply hadn't occurred to me the airline had other aircraft types or would have so many of them. More seriously I finally realised there was this vast interconnected world out there filled with all types of people making their way around it (by design my childhood had been pretty sheltered; almost nothing in the way of TV and no video games and I hadn't given 'abroad' much thought).

Shortly after my return to Trinidad BA discontinued the flight (now since resumed on the 777 at far greater frequencies). At the time I assumed that'd be the end of my experience with the airline but in 96 my mother was offered a job in London and we flew on the classic one last time to start our new lives in the metropolis (this time boarding from Barbados). Since then I've flown the airline probably more than two hundred times, in all four cabins, as well as many other carriers. No other flying experience has matched the level of excitement of that first red eye though.
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Last edited by franksoodeen83; Jun 10, 18 at 5:21 pm
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Old Jun 10, 18, 11:37 am
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Welcome to Flyertalk franksoodeen83, though I suspect you may have been lurking for a while. Welcome to the BA board, and thank you very much for sharing that interesting insight to your early life in Trinidad. I don't think this sort of anecdote gets online so often, so all the more valuable that you have shared it with us here. Welcome on board.

I will have to have a good think about what my first memory was, the first thing that came into my head was my mother insisting to my father that we sat in non smoking rows on a Paris flight in the 1970s. My father never, ever smoked but liked the smell of cigars in particular. And though I can remember the row numbers, if we were in row 14, smoking was in row 16, and I remember my mother not being entirely happy (and blaming dad, as per usual).
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Old Jun 10, 18, 12:14 pm
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Flying upper deck 747 WT to Toronto for an exchange semester in 1999, and returning home via same way. An amazing experience back then including menus, and screens with films for cabin, not ife.

These days I still have a fondness for the upper deck of the 747.
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Old Jun 10, 18, 12:17 pm
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Great story, beautifully told.

for me would have been my first business trip to Copenhagen mid 80s in business class, from the then new Gatwick North TerminaL. I was used to laker and dan air for holidays and this was the pinnacle of luxury in my eyes.

i still measure BA against that recollection.

Last edited by bisonrav; Jun 10, 18 at 1:40 pm
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Old Jun 10, 18, 12:17 pm
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1979 to Barbados. 747. Economy.

Joined Junior Jet Club!
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Old Jun 10, 18, 12:22 pm
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My first memory is receiving a BEA pen on a flight. If you tilted one end up the plane inside the liquid window would move down the runway. Probably on a GIB flight as we went there on holiday when I was a kid in shorts....very early 60's. My sister still has a picture of me posing beside the rock apes. Every time I see her she brings it out and says 'which one is you?'.
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Old Jun 10, 18, 12:24 pm
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The old man used to work for Pan Am, and spent a few years on assignment in Paris during the 60s. We still used to fly to and from the UK several times a year, but always on staff travel on a PanAm 707. For reasons now lost in the mists of time, my mum and I once took a BEA flight instead. Used to the comparatively vast and modern 707, at least to my mind, my six-year-old self was not impressed with the Viscount we were to fly on, a tiny old plane (propellors?!) with funny windows.

I was even less impressed soon after take off when we had to turn around and go back due to an emergency (I later learnt that it was a hydraulics failure which meant the wheels didn’t fully retract and needed to be cranked down manually).

Anyway, a terrifying moment I am sure for passengers, not helped in the least by one little six year old excitedly and loudly asking ‘are we going to crash, mummy? Brilliant!!!’. Full on emergency landing, with brace position and fire englnes lined up alongside the runway – what could be more thrilling for a young boy?

So, first BA (or predecessor) flight, first (and, thousands of flights later, so far only) adoption of the brace position.

For completely unconnected reasons, it was perhaps ten years before I flew them again, by which time they had become British Airways.
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Old Jun 10, 18, 12:25 pm
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It is interesting that people remember this stuff. I flew as a tourist/holiday maker back in the 60s and 70s. I have no idea who I flew with. They were aeroplanes, that's all!! It's a bit like the other thread about seats on BA. I have trouble remembering where I was going, so I can't remember seats and plane types.
Clearly, I am not much influenced by brands!
The most memorable flight for me was Laker to The west Coast in 1979.
Beyond that, all flights were on planes! - Until 1989 when I joined BAEC as I started a Global job.

and, for Mr UKGooner, I did fly to Belgium in 1970.
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Old Jun 10, 18, 12:32 pm
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LIS to LHR, 2010, going for my study abroad term in the UK.
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Old Jun 10, 18, 1:16 pm
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Not my first flight on BA but my first vivid memory:
  • 1988 ABZ-LHR
  • Boeing 737-200 resplendent in Landor livery
  • A red stripe ran the length of the overhead lockers with white seat indicators
  • 35-36" pitch
  • Exit rows without window seats (configured BC and DE)
  • Blue/grey bulkheads with light grey horizontal pin stripes and large BA coat of arms
  • Lunch was a golf ball sized steak with boiled potatoes and string beans. Dessert and PEZ style mints
  • The aircraft hugged the ground on taxi and took off like a rocket. It would leave a plume of black smoke in its wake.

Happy memories

Last edited by Prospero; Jun 10, 18 at 1:29 pm Reason: More memories coming back to me
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Old Jun 10, 18, 1:23 pm
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My earliest vivid memory of BA was flying from Manchester in 2001 for an interview in their Paris office. I was a 20 year old student looking for a job for my year abroad as part of my degree course. They sent me CE, and I was met by a driver with my name on a board (no Ipads back then ), driven to the office for the interview and back to the airport after a couple of hours at leisure. It was the same day as the general election as I remember being back just in time to vote in my first general election. I didn't get the job, but an unforgettable experience all the same!
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Old Jun 10, 18, 1:25 pm
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B707 from London. All I remember is the skipper holding her on the brakes until the old Conway engines were up to power, then a real lurch as they came off. Sitting in a window seat towards the front admiring the silver RR engine badges.... great times.
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Old Jun 10, 18, 1:26 pm
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777-200 G-ZZZA, London Heathrow - Dubai, World Traveller Plus in 2006.

Can't remember much of T4 at all, I seem to recall a Qantas 747 parked there? For the flight I was sat in the last row of seats in the cabin, in seat F of that row. I also recall Economy being virtually empty and seeing hoardes of Emirates aircraft and an Air France 747-400 parked at the nearby gate after landing.

The Return was on G-VIIM also in World Traveller plus. Sat on the bulkhead row which would of been seat J with plenty of legroom.

As for my dad, his first BA experience was on a G-BOA* registered aircraft. Something i'll never get to experience!
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Old Jun 10, 18, 1:29 pm
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I have vague memories of being in a 707 coming back from Africa in the late 70s, but they are so unclear I could be imagining it. First rock solid memory is LHR to Cork on a 1-11. I'd say around 1985. It was staff travel and we had gone to opposite way on a Lingus 737-200.
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Old Jun 10, 18, 1:33 pm
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According to ba97, my first BA was in November 1988, BKK-SYD in Club World ... some 25 years after I started this passenger flying lark!! *

It was memorable in the sense that the Services Booking Centre (this was a duty trip to OZ) had got me arriving at BKK late at night as the airport was closing, I guess around midnight as I cleared Immigration. Having already flown from BZZ via HKG to BKK that day, I was brain dead. And accordingly I tried to sleep on a contoured plastic seating bench while the cleaners worked around me. And then, at around 0600, I was presented with the joyous sight of BA uniforms as they opened the Lounge! My first ever Lounge visit, which was never more needed after that journey.

I remember little of the Lounge, other than it was downstairs, cool and comfortable ... and being hand-served with coffee. Otherwise I remember nothing of the airport, security, boarding or the flight (BA009, sat somewhere in J). I suspect I slept most of the way to SYD!!

* Other airlines, and RAF and USAF filled those early years!

Last edited by T8191; Jun 12, 18 at 3:49 pm
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