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British Airways 001 November 8

Yesterday I received what I initially thought was a weird email from British Airways CEO Sean Doyle:

“Dear Ms. xxxxx,

“I write to you on an historic day for British Airways and Britain.

“For nearly two years the Atlantic has felt more like a brick wall, separating two great nations from each other.
It was the right thing to do to prioritise public health, but we know that the global closures have come at a cost to our economies, our families and our mental health, which is what makes today such a pivotal moment for us all.

“This morning our first flight to New York will take to the skies in a synchronised departure on parallel runways alongside our friends at Virgin Atlantic. Together, even as competitors, we have fought for the safe return of transatlantic travel - and now we celebrate that achievement as a team. Some things are more important than one-upmanship, and this is one of those things.

“I will be travelling on this aircraft (aptly named the BA001, the flight number Concorde owned) and it will be the first time in nearly two years I have been able to see and thank our US team in person. With me on the flight will be businesses ready to meet and re-establish important connections face to face, and families who have not seen their loved ones in nearly two years. I’m sure the arrivals hall at JFK airport, our second home outside London, will be filled with emotion and expectation and I look forward to being part of the occasion.

“Thanks for your continued support and we look forward to welcoming you on board our transatlantic flights as we fly our red, white and blue colours in honour of both countries and re-ignite our special relationship between the UK and the US.
Sean Doyle Chairman and CEO, British Airways
Sean Doyle
Chairman and CEO, British Airways”

What “first flight”, I thought. British airways has been flying to the US throughout the pandemic, and many people here on the forum have flown BA to Europe in the past 2-3 months. I myself have watched the BA flight #49 to Seattle on approach to SeaTac when I happened to be at a beach on Lake Washington around 5:30 pm (when it was still light then).

But of course he meant the “first flight” to JFK that day—-November 8, the first day that Europeans were allowed free entry into the USA for tourism and family reunions.

And it was truly treated as an historic event, with a celebratory atmosphere at LHR and JKF, and pages and pages of photos and comments on FlyerTalk. The BA and Virgin Atlantic planes did indeed take off simultaneously on parallel runways at Heathrow, and followed parallel flight paths across the Atlantic.

You can see a photo of the flight track, and of New York’s Empire State Building lit up in BA colors to celebrate:

More photos on FlyerTalk’s BA forum if you care to look:

And apparently there were celebrations at the US-Canada border here in Washington, and in Port Angeles where the Coho ferry from Victoria brought a capacity load of Canadians.

Welcome back to our Canadian and European friends—-and safe travels to all.

Posted by
27723 posts

Interesting juxtaposition thunk I yesterday when all the fuss was being made about this on the BBC news, that the prior story had been about cutting emissions and saving the world at COP 26.

Posted by
3110 posts

Thanks for sharing. That kind of gave me chills (in a good way).

Posted by
935 posts

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed reading that!!!!!

Posted by
2914 posts

Considering American leisure travelers have been traveling without apparent guilt for months, this is not the post to discuss flying and climate change, although I would like to see that discussion elsewhere.

It is wonderful families can finally reunite. My grandson’s other grandmother, British, has not seen him since he was 3 weeks old. He is now 25 months. That is a lot to miss. I am thrilled this has finally happened and I am glad BA is celebrating it.

Posted by
7598 posts

Another fun fact (I think I read this in an article in the Guardian yesterday) is that for the first time, British Airway and Virgin Atlantic trans-Atlantic-bound flight both took off from (parallel) runways at the same time in order to mark the moment.

Posted by
13082 posts

Kim, there are videos of that in the FlyerTalk thread I linked. One was taken by a passenger in the Virgin Atlantic plane of the British Airways plane as it raced down the parallel runway and then lifted off into the air. There are other videos from different perspectives as well.

Posted by
9711 posts

This is so cool and yes, I got a little teary. So neat that they took off together and flew a parallel route. I'm sure the reunited families and friends will be thrilled at the reunions.

Thanks Lola for posting this!

Posted by
3110 posts

Those flyer talk peeps 😂, talking about the planeporn photos to enjoy. There are some amazing photos and comments, indeed. Thanks again, Lola!