In 2019, British Airways entered the elite club of airlines that have been in business for a hundred years. The year was marked by a royal visit, new aircraft, enhanced customer experiences and 100 acts of kindness. The carrier will also start 2020 with 20 resolutions.
Celebrating 100 years in the commercial aviation business is a major milestone. British Airways can trace their heritage back to 1919, a mere sixteen years after the Wright Brothers historic 1903 flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. British Airways marked the occasion with many special events and touches large and small, including a visit from Her Majesty the Queen, to four special liveried aircraft. The carrier also received dozen new aircraft including fuel-efficient Airbus A350s and A320neos. During their centenary year, British Airways rolled out the new Clube Suite product, refreshed their 777 cabins and continued to implement industry-leading WiFi across the entire fleet. The First Class and World Traveller+ products received a new look with refreshed dining, bedding and amenities, while newly designed lounges were opened in New York (JFK), San Francisco, Johannesburg, Geneva and Linate. BA also announced a multitude of technological and environmental initiatives as they prepare for their next 100 years in service.
Another integral part of the airline’s centenary celebration was to show gratitude to their fans and customers throughout the year with the “100 Acts of Kindness” program. Some examples include upgrading 100 customers from World Traveller to First Class on Valentine’s Day, sending Laura Nuttall, a young cancer patient on her ‘bucket list’ trip to Africa and getting 96 year old former RAF pilot back to the flight deck to the first time in 45 years. British Airways also sent their retro-liveried BOAC 747 to Los Angeles to greet Judie Parr Graham-Bell, whose late husband organized Royal Flights for BOAC and flew former US Secret Service dog ‘Hurricane’ to the UK to receive the ‘Animal OBE PDSA Order of Merit.’ For Thanksgiving, the airline teamed up with their joint business partner American Airlines to unite a family spread across three continents.
To mark the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden, British Airways gave a hero’s sendoff to WWII veterans travelling to the Netherlands and even helped customer Phil Reynolds propose to his girlfriend with huge screens at London-Heathrow’s Terminal 5. In partnership with Make-A-Wish charity Rays of Sunshine, BA gave behind-the-scenes tours to young aviators and flew customer Cheryl Lawley, who is fighting a brain tumor, back to Australia to celebrate her supportive uncle’s wedding over Christmas. These, and many other acts of kindness were expressed throughout the centenary year. Commenting on the 2019 initiative, British Airways’ Director of Brand and Customer Experience, Carolina Martinoli said,
“Travel has long since had a sense of magic and awe about it and in a year when we’ve been celebrating our centenary it’s been a pleasure to deliver these 100 acts of kindness – in fact, we enjoyed it so much that we ended up delivering well over 100 of them! It’s our customers who’ve travelled with us over the last century that have made us the airline we are today and will make us the organization we’ll be in the future, so we’ve absolutely loved playing our part in making these wonderful memories.”
Now that their centenary year is ending, British Airways has no intention of resting on their laurels, as they start their next 100 years of operation. On Monday, the carrier announced twenty resolutions for the new year which will carry the excitement into 2020. To start, the airline previously announced nine new routes for the new year including Pristina (Kosovo), Podgorica (Montenegro), Perugia (Italy), Antalya, Dalaman and Bodrum (Turkey), San Sebastián (Spain), Rhodes (Greece) and Portland, Oregon in the US. The new year will also see the continued renewal of the airline’s fleet with more than twenty new fuel-efficient aircraft including Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners and Airbus A350s. The Business Class Club Suite product offering a privacy door, 40% more storage space and direct aisle access and new First Class seats will also be rolled out to more aircraft.
BA will also start their second century with new uniforms designed by Savile Row tailoring expert Ozwald Boateng OBE and new menus designed in cooperation with Do&Co at Heathrow and Newrest at Gatwick. By the end of 2020, most of the airline’s fleet will have state-of-the-art WiFi and the new year will also see refreshed lounges at Heathrow, Edinburgh and Berlin, along with a relaunch of the Elemis Spa at New York-JFK. Additionally, British Airways is implementing numerous technological advances across all platforms including their website and app, as well as introducing robots to help gusts navigate London-Heathrow. As previously announced, the airline is also testing 3D printing for non-critical parts which will help ensure the availability of seats, keeping departures on time.
In 2020, British Airways Premier Card and Gold Guest List Executive Club members travelling through Los Angeles, New York-JFK, London-Heathrow, Delhi and Mumbai will be assisted by new ‘Concorde Teams’ to ensure a seamless and stress-free journey. BA airport hosts will receive additional training to help them exceed guest expectations, and continuous improvements will be made to the Executive Club, with new partners and deals throughout 2020. During the new year, the carrier will also celebrate the tenth anniversary of their Flying Start charity which has already raised over £24M for worth causes in the UK and throughout the world. For future aviators, British Airways will be the first UK airline to offer paid summer internships and finally, BA will treat guests onboard long-haul flights with a 2019 documentary on the history of the airline.
As British Airways closes out a very exciting and successful centenary year, we wish the entire team all the best as they start their next century in business. We look forward to reporting on the many planned developments over the new year and beyond. Happy 100th Birthday Speedbird - cheers to the next 100 years!
Source: British Airways