A sad farewell today particularly relevant to me!
British Airways says farewell to its Boeing 747 Jumbo fleet today. Why is it relevant to me? Before I took to journalism and communications I worked for British Airways as a cabin attendant (air hostess or trolley dolly, alternative descriptions!) in 1968. I was on the first crew to go over to the B747 fleet in 1969. I worked on proving flights before she went into service – most revealing and very different. Much bigger and stairs to climb.
The passengers on those flights were invited, no payment required. At the end of one of those trips, I asked a fellow crew member how he had found it? Jokingly – and delightfully ‘politically incorrect’ he responded, ‘my dear, most of the passengers were beyond provincial they were positively parochial’!!!
I chose to join the airline, BOAC, when I joined it, as a form of education in life. My finishing school in the air. I loved it and I confess to just watching a film clip of two of the aircraft taking off from Heathrow on their last flights – retired four years earlier than planned because, as we all know, people are not flying – and having tears in my eyes.
The ‘jumbo’ was a completely different way to fly. Much larger, two decks and we crew members found it strange when passengers got off saying thank you for a great flight to the ground crew meeting them. Of course on the older single-aisle aircraft all the passengers could see us and realise that we were there ‘to serve’!
It felt like being part of a great family and the humour nearly always kept us going and, mostly, with smiles on our faces. Great stories spread ‘down the routes’. The trips covered the world and it could be anything from a three day trip to New York to a ’round the world’ through the East and back through the West, taking in, for example, Rome, New Delhi, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Honolulu, San Francisco. Always handing over to another crew and then off to the hotel for a little ‘relaxation’. I am of course awash with nostalgia today.
Some of the stories inevitably became apocryphal over time. But as a taster, a passenger travelling with a young boy who was cheeky to the crew member serving him his meals and drinks. She told him off, politely of course. The response from the mother, ‘oh don’t worry about her honey. She comes with the ticket’. I found that one easy to believe.
I may not be travelling around the world now but I count myself as very privileged to have had the opportunity to travel first with the airline and then as a journalist and broadcaster. But, I am also lucky that I live in a place I love. And, after my adventurous few months – as described in my last blog – I am in action again and determined to find lots more stories and information to post on the site.
Just in the last few months for example, while I have been managing to be in lockdown, falling down, breaking my shoulder, having numerous breathless episodes, I have discovered so much more about the services we have access to in Kensington. If you live or work in Kensington, count yourself lucky. I do.
More information in the days and weeks ahead. I hope you haven’t given up on me! Thanks for reading and please spread the word about the site. It will be busier in the future
A Sad Farewell!