Revealed: British Airways Honors Its People With BOAC Livery

by Chris Dong

How can you get scores of people around the world to pay attention to a paint job? Well, if you’re British Airways and celebrating your 100th birthday, it’s by repainting the Queen of the Skies in the design of the airline’s iconic predecessor, British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC).

Aviation enthusiasts worldwide squealed in delight last month. Why? British Airways announced that a handful of its existing aircraft would be getting retro liveries to commemorate the airline’s storied history.

BOAC paint scheme legacy

BA celebrates its 100th anniversary.

The first of those planes, a BOAC-liveried B747 aircraft registered as G-BYGC, arrived back to London yesterday from a Dublin paint center. The flight number was aptly named BA100 and landed onto a rainy Heathrow runway.

BOAC Livery 100th Anniversary British Airways

BOAC plane taxis in while another BA plane touches down.

What Was It Like Experiencing A BOAC-Painted B747?

A crowd of media, enthusiasts, and people connected to BOAC gathered in a rather chilly maintenance hangar to witness the moment. As the aircraft taxied over after landing, those lucky enough to attend got a closer look at the retro speedbird and its rich blue, gold, and white scheme. The stunning paint job had everyone in the hangar buzzing – but not all for the same reasons.

There were aviation enthusiasts soaking it all in (like myself), photographers snapping photos of a gleaming plane, and writers capturing quotes from officials.

But British Airways’ decision to revive such a symbolic paint scheme affected another group: former BOAC employees and family members of former BOAC employees. They each had rich personal stories and fond memories of the airline and how it impacted their lives.

Greg Edwards, whose late mother used to work for BOAC said, “I was truly moved to see the return of the BOAC brand. It meant so much to our family, especially my mum who worked for the carrier as a young woman in Kingston, Jamaica.”

From beneath the wing of a B747.

As such, the seemingly simple act of a paint job actually took on even greater meaning.

BOAC marketing pamphlets and model aircraft from BOAC’s glorious days in the 1960s and 70s were on display inside the hanger. Even the cabin crew uniforms from decades ago were taken out of the closet for a final showcase.

Where Will This BOAC-Painted B747 Go?

This particular 747 is in a “high-J’ interior configuration (no new business class seat here yet, sorry).  There’s 14 first class seats, 86 business class seats (Club World), 30 premium economy (World Traveler Plus), and 135 economy seats (World Traveler). That means it’ll fly on existing routes that have that configuration – including to New York and Chicago, it’s first two destinations.

The Upshot

BOAC’s livery through 1974 is a gorgeous looking design and has stood the test of time. While the B747 is already a curvaceous beauty, it somehow looks even better with this wrap. Take the opportunity to fly British Airways before the airline entirely retires its B747 fleet by 2023.

Until then, this BOAC paint job will be flying proud for both an old and a new generation of flyers.

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