Getting permission to fly from Heathrow was a big moment for us. Until then, we'd been growing fast and flying our long haul routes to JFK, Los Angeles, and Tokyo from Gatwick. After years of lobbying, we were finally allowed to paint Heathrow red. It was the start of a beautiful relationship.
In those 30 years there have been so many memories. Inaugural flight parties, new aircraft deliveries, the stepping off point on countless adventures, those Clubhouse cocktails and then for us personally, the teamwork, the great moments, being there for our customers. Here are just three of our favourite Heathrow moments.
Way back in 1991, when we moved to Heathrow, we didn't have the marketing budgets to compete with the big airlines, so these were the heady days of Richard and his famous publicity stunts. We took over the British Airways Concorde on the roundabout outside the airport (now occupied by an Emirates A380). Months of planning included surreptitiously measuring the tailfin and making a cloth cover for it. There was subterfuge in the night, and finally, Richard dressed as a pirate. Oh, and legend has it a very tricky conversation with the Heathrow police. Luckily BA took it all in good humour.
The Upper Class Wing - limo to lounge in nine minutes
Back in 2007, Heathrow was changing. BA was gifted the brand-new Terminal 5, leaving us in the smaller, older, but let's face it, more characterful Terminal 3. That's when we took over 'Zone A' and made it our own. We built a unique experience for our customers with a light, airy check-in area, efficient processes, and for our Upper Class and Goldcard customers, the stunning Upper Class Wing. This has its own private security channel, allowing you to go from limo to lounge in nine minutes. There are classy sculptures, beautifully lit spaces and our excellent Heathrow airport team ready to look after you at every step of the way. So, where do the Spice Girls fit into all of this?
As they were getting ready to embark on their 2007 world tour, the Spice Girls chose us to be their official airline. After they named one of our aircraft 'Spice One' in Los Angeles, they dropped by to join Richard in declaring our new home at Heathrow officially open. Vernon Kay welcomed Richard, Victoria, Melanie, Geri, Emma and Mel onto to stage for the opening ceremony. We're not sure any airline airport opening has ever had quite such an a-list moment as that. Meanwhile, over at the Upper Class Wing, Richard had declared that our new space was better than Terminal 5, so should be called Terminal 6. Even if the name didn't stick, our small friendly home at T3 is still a hot favourite with our customers, and we continue to be incredibly proud of it.
There were a few misty-eyed people at Heathrow on the morning of 21 December 2020. They were there to watch the end of an era as our last ever Boeing 747 'jumbo' jet took off on its final flight.
The 747 had played a massive part in our story. We started operations in June 1984 with just one leased second hand 747-200 called G-VIRG, Maiden Voyager and the 747 had been a staple of our fleet right up until this day. So it was only fitting that we waved it off in style. With a Union Jack flying proudly from its roof, G-VROY taxied out to the runway for its final flight. The event was marked with a live broadcast by Youtube legend Big Jet Jerry and watched by a small crowd of aviation enthusiasts and our own people. You can see Big Jet Jerry's report here or read our 747 farewell blog post here As we look to the future, our fleet now consists of the more efficient, quiet and modern twin-engined aircraft like the Boeing 787-9 and the Airbus A350-1000
Waiting to welcome our customers back. Zone A at Heathrow
As we look back at these key moments in our Heathrow history, we’re eagerly waiting for our beloved home in Terminal 3 to reopen for business. The signs are that it won’t be long now, and we can’t wait to welcome you back to our home at Heathrow for many more years of making travel memories.
Visit our Fly safe, fly well pages to find out everything we’re doing to make your journey safe and comfortable during these weird times.