Yesterday was one of the saddest days in aviation history. The last two British Airways 747s left Heathrow for the final time.
One aircraft, G-CIVB, was painted in its heritage ‘Negus’ livery and the other, G-CIVY, in the airline’s current Chatham Dockyard livery.
The two 747s took to the skies one after the other from runway 27R. Once in the air, G-CIVY circled back over the southerly runway in a farewell to its home before heading to St Athan in Wales where the aircraft will be retired.
The airline says it retired the aircraft as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A historic occasion like this gets you thinking and I’ve been doing that about my many flights on BA 747s in all classes across the world.
Here is my own tiny tribute to the magnificent British Airways 747.
British Airways 747 memories
I’ve made many hundreds of flights on BA 747s. As BA staff and as a commercial. passenger In First, Club World (in many varieties) and Economy.
The majority were in Club World, followed by Economy and a small amount in First.
I flew on British Airways 747s to or from:
- New York, Washington, Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Toronto
- Rio, Bogota, Mexico City, Barbados, Trinidad, St Lucia
- Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Osaka, Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur
- Sydney, Melbourne
- Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Windhoek, Nairobi.
That’s over 30 great places I’d never have seen without that magnificent 747. There are probably some more I can’t remember right now.
Most memorable flights on a British Airways 747
First 747 flight: Heathrow to Barbados as staff standby
My first flight on a 747 was a British Airways 747-100 from Heathrow to Barbados on a terrible February morning. I was a very junior member of BA staff on standby. I got a seat way up the back in a half empty aircraft. I’ll never forget that takeoff.
I was in an aisle seat and I hung out over the aisle as we rotated. It seemed to me that I was on the ground for about a minute after the front of the plane left the ground.
And 8 hours later I was swimming in Barbados. Wonderful.
First from Seoul to Heathrow
On Duty, so staff. A morning departure from Korea, a 12 flight across mainly Siberia and an arrival at Heathrow about 1700 UK time.
This was the my first trip in First on a lie flat seat. Seat was 4A, always my choice in First. I was amazed when I pressed the buttons to slide the ‘seat’ into a bed. It wouldn’t stop, just kept on going into a bigger and bigger bed. Many hours of great sleep.
Woke up and had pot of tea and a plate of biscuits on the window while watching something great on my personal screen.
First from Heathrow to Miami.
My first flight in First as a commercial passenger.
After many years of staff travel on Duty or leisure and therefore dressing properly (i.e. uncomfortably and obviously as staff) ‘in case of an upgrade’, I could travel dressed as I wanted.
Seat was 3A, flew in jeans, sneakers and a red cashmere sweater. My attempt at scruffy posh. Still felt like I didn’t belong there.
Most famous people I’ve seen onboard British Airways 747s
The two standouts are Sean Connery and the late George Michael.
Thank you British Airways 747.
N.B. Image credits: British Airways