LONDON – British Airways (BA) is celebrating 60 years of jet engine Transatlantic crossings. BOAC, the predecessor to BA, operated the first transatlantic jet engine flight on October 4, 1958, on a de Havilland Comet 4 aircraft.
This flight, at the time, reduced flying times from London to New York from 18 hours to just seven, which is what we see today.
To celebrate the occasion, BA placed a focus on Peggy Thorne, a 91-year-old ex-flight attendant for BOAC, who joined the carrier in 1950.
Thorne was handpicked by BOAC to serve customers on the first flight. She commented on what was at the time an incredible milestone for the industry.
“It was marvellous. We were used to travelling to New York on Boeing Stratocruisers which took up to 20 hours. We couldn’t believe the flight was possible in such a short time.”
Thorne was also able to remember the inaugural flight very well. “It was so exciting to be the first – it was wonderful,” she said. “There were all sorts of dignitaries on board, press and the chairman of BOAC. It was a thrilling experience.”
Thorne continued narrating her memorable experience, “We served customers Madeira biscuits and coffee when they came on board, followed by cocktails and canapes, and then a five-course lunch with wines.”
“Petit Fours followed and then there was Afternoon Tea! Our customers loved it – they ate and drank from when they got on board until the time they got off.”
BOAC was also able to beat Pan Am in what was seen as a race to get across the Atlantic by jet.
Due to the new jet engines that BOAC received for the Comet 4, the carrier was able to beat Pan Am by several weeks.
Times have changed however.
Back in 1958, the Comet 4 could only fly 48 customers every day from London.
Now, 60 years on, BA operates 12 flights per day from Heathrow to New York, offering 3,500 seats on a daily basis.
The price difference between then and now is also astronomical. Back in 1958, the flight would cost a passenger around £8,000 ($10,490) for a round trip. Now, it can be as cheap as £292 ($380).
The celebrations don’t stop there either. The airline is just
CEO Alex Cruz gave some inspiring words about the industry and where it has taken Britain.
“British Airways and its predecessors have always pioneered innovation and hospitality and this is a great early example. Next year we celebrate 100 years of taking Britain to the world and bringing the world to Britain, and the quality of service we provide to customers is better than ever.”
Overall, this is a massive milestone for BA and to see where they are now after 60 years is nothing short of remarkable.
With a third runway at Heathrow, BA’s Transatlantic crossings might continue to increase, paving the way for the next 60 years of jet flights across the Atlantic ocean.