Blast From The Past: BA’s 747 In Full BOAC Livery Arrives At Heathrow

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It’s quite easy to look back on aviation in the 50’s through to the 80’s through rose-tinted spectacles so it’s important to remember that those years weren’t really the halcyon days that they can sometimes be made out to be.

Flying then was a lot more expensive that it is now, aircraft we a lot less reliable (yes, even less reliable that American’s current fleet), it took a lot longer to get anywhere than it does now and people could smoke onboard….but boy could airlines do liveries.

So many modern-day liveries are just re-hashed versions of what another airline has already done (like the new Aer Lingus livery) or just very, very bland (take your pick!) so when we see something like this slowly roll out of a hangar…

a large airplane on the tarmac
Image courtesy of British Airways

….or appear out of a grey London sky….

a plane flying in the sky
Image courtesy of British Airways

….it’s hard not to smile.

A British Airways 747 (reg: G-BYGC) painted in the BOAC livery used between 1964 and 1974 landed at London Heathrow this morning will be going into regular service from tomorrow starting with the London – New York (JFK) route.

London – New York was the first route that the British Airways 747 flew in BOAC colors and the aircraft will keep this livery until it retires in 2023.

Doesn’t it look fantastic?!

a large airplane on a runway
Image courtesy of British Airways

As part of its 100th birthday celebrations British Airways will be repainting a number of its aircraft in liveries from days gone by and we should  be getting further details of what else to expect pretty soon.

Here’s what Alex Cruz (BA CEO) has had to say about the retro liveries:

So many British Airways customers and colleagues have fond memories of our previous liveries, regularly sharing their photos from across the globe, so it’s incredibly exciting to be re-introducing this classic BOAC design.

Our history has shaped who we are today, so our centenary is the perfect moment to revisit our heritage and the UK’s aviation landscape through this iconic livery.

It also looks as if British Airways has given some of its flight attendants BOAC uniforms….

a couple of women wearing uniforms
Image courtesy of British Airways

…although I suspect that was just a uniform handed out to welcome the aircraft to London – I doubt the crew on tomorrow’s London – NYC flight will be in retro clothing.

For anyone hoping to catch a glimpse of the BOAC livery here’s the aircraft’s schedule for tomorrow:

BA117 LHR 08:25 – 11:30 JFK
BA116 JFK 20:15 – 08:10+1 day LHR (likely flight)

I think the aircraft is returning as flight BA116 but there’s a chance that it may return as BA176 (departing JFK at 19:25)….I can’t be sure.

Bottom Line

British Airways can hold as many promotions/sales as it likes to celebrate its 100th anniversary but the best part of the celebrations will still be the old liveries appearing on aircraft that we can actually fly on….and I say that as someone who isn’t really an AvGeek.

There’s something inherently classy about the old-school liveries and it’s great to see the first making an appearance today.


  1. Having flown BA’s 747s and L1011s back in that period it would be a really special event if the cabins were reconfigured with their 70/80s seating and catering for special flights from various BA outport stations. While those seats (at least in F and ClubWorld) were certainly light years behind today’s “pods”, i think World Traveller then was as good as WT+ is now. But it would still be an experience to relive. Too bad we will never have a similar opportunity to relive the Concorde experience I was fortunate to enjoy three times

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