Airline Essentials - British Airways

What you need to know

Photo by Benet J. Wilson

British Airways was founded on August 26, 1919, as Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited. It operated the world’s first daily international scheduled air service -- a flight from London to Paris, carried one passenger, along with cargo that included newspapers, Devonshire cream, jam and grouse.

In 1940, the government formed British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) to operate World War II services. Six years later, British European Airways (BEA) and British South American Airways (BSAA) were created to handle commercial flights to Europe and South America, respectively.

In 1974, BOAC and BEA were merged to create British Airways. The carrier was privatized in 1987. A year later, British Airways merged with Gatwick-based British Caledonian Airways.

The airline has around 40,000 employees including 15,000 cabin crew, more than 4,000 pilots, and more than 10,000 ground staff. It offers opportunities for graduates and apprentices. 

British Airways, along with Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling, is part of Spain's International Airlines Group, one of the world's largest airline groups.  Combined, IAG's member airlines own 533 aircraft that fly to 274 destinations carrying nearly 95 million passengers a year.

Headquarters:  Waterside, England


The airline has nearly 400 aircraft and 14 types, ranging from the 70-seat Embraer 170 to the Airbus A380 jumbo jet.  It flies out of London Heathrow to more than 190 destinations in 80 countries.

Seat Maps  

Hubs: London Heathrow, Gatwick Airport

Queen Elizabeth II officially opened British Airways' flagship Terminal 5 at London Heathrow on March 14, 2008. The site is comprised of the main building, along with satellite B and C buildings that are connected by a train or a moving walkway, which is a nice stroll after a long flight.

Phone Number: 1 (800) 247-9297

Frequent Flyer Program / Global Alliance: Executive Club / Oneworld

Accidents & Incidents:  

On 29 December 2000, British Airways Flight 2069 was en route from London to Nairobi when a mentally ill passenger entered the cockpit and grabbed the controls. As the pilots struggled to remove the intruder, the Boeing 747-400 stalled twice and banked to 94 degrees. Several people on board were injured by the violent manoeuvres which briefly caused the aircraft to descend at 30,000 ft per minute. The man was finally restrained with the help of several passengers and the co-pilot regained control. The flight landed safely in Nairobi.

On 17 January 2008, British Airways Flight 38,crash landing - no fatalities, one serious injury and twelve minor injuries.

On 22 December 2013, British Airways Flight 34, accident hit a building, no injuries amongst the crew or 189 passengers, however four members of ground staff were injured when the wing smashed into the building.[158]

Airline News:  Media Centre

Interesting Fact: The British Airways Heritage collection is an extensive archive that documents the formation, development and operations of British Airways and its predecessor companies. BA was created after the merger of British Overseas Airways Corporation and British European Airways, along with regional airlines Cambrian Airways and Northeast Airlines in 1974. After the airline was privatized in 1987, it expanded by acquiring British Caledonian, Dan-Air and British Midland. The collection is also home to the airline's memorabilia and artifacts, including more than 130 uniforms from the 1930s to the present day, along with a large collection of aircraft models and pictures. 

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