Japan and Britain – British Airways Celebrates 75 Years Of Connecting the Nations

It has been 75 years since British Airways – previously known as the BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation), started operating commercial passenger flights between Britain and Japan in 1948. They were the first British airline to operate these flights for the general public and connect the two nations. 

“It all started with a flying boat” – How British Airways began flying to Japan

It all started on the 19th of March 1948, when the BOAC decided to extend its Poole-Hong Kong Plymouth class flying boat service to the Japanese city of Iwakuni. 

Black and white image of a flying boat plane that is in the sea in 1948
British Airways’ predecessor, BOAC, operated its Poole-Hong Kong Plymouth class flying boat back in 1948 © British Airways

The following November of that same year, this weekly service was further extended to yet another Japanese city – Yokohama, Tokyo. The flights would take seven days and would stop off at seven different cities that were on-route – Augusta, Alexandria, Karachi, Calcutta, Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Iwakuni. 

British Airways Chief Commercial Officer, Colm Lacy, stated that, “It all started with a flying boat and now Tokyo is one of our longest-served and most valued destinations. We’re incredibly proud of our heritage – it’s been our pleasure to connect British travellers with Japan since 1948 – and we look forward to serving them for the next 75 years and beyond as we continue our investment into new products, customer experience, and technology.”

The celebrations are in order

British Airways has announced some exciting news as a means to celebrate this historic milestone for the airline and the two countries. 

Their latest business class Club Suite cabin is launching on flights between London Heathrow and Tokyo Haneda. This latest cabin design offers flat-bed seats with direct aisle access as well as a suite door that offers full privacy for passengers onboard. Not only does the suite have 40% more storage space for things such as a vanity unit and mirror, but customers can also enjoy WiFi as well as 18.5-inch inflight entertainment screens for all their favourite movies. Come October 31st, British Airways will then officially become the only airline offering a business class suite with a full privacy door on a direct flight between the United Kingdom and Japan.

Customers flying in the Club World cabin can expect to enjoy a luxurious plush pillow and a warm quilt from the White Company – a staple luxury British brand – as well as amenity kits and improved dining experiences. 

From the 1st of September, the airline is commemorating their First cabin on flights to and from Tokyo. Those travelling on it will experience British Airways’ most-premium service. Customers will be given loungewear and amenity kits designed by the famous luxury British brand Temperley London, which will include products from Elemis, such as the renowned Ultra Smart Pro-Collagen range. Comfortable bedding made from recycled plastic bottles will also be available to those who like to nap on the way or simply want to get a bit more comfortable.

What’s on the menu?

A sample menu
Sample menu of the new dishes available onboard British Airways © British Airways

To commemorate the unity between Japan and the UK, British Airways has released a new menu that will be served on flights from Heathrow to Haneda between the 1st of September and the 31st of October. The airline has drawn inspiration from heritage menus within its archives, and its chefs have created a menu that celebrates traditional British cuisine with a Japanese twist, such as the beef cheek okaribayaki. The menu also includes items such as the beef stroganoff, which was an extremely popular dish that was served on the same route in 1969, as well as the Cherry Meringue Gateau.

Cherry Meringue Gateau on a white plate with a black background
Cherry Meringue Gateau – a signature desert that was enjoyed by flyers on the London to Anchorage sector in 1969 © British Airways

If you’re a frequent flyer between the UK and Japan, why not give their Club Suite cabin a go? 

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Millie Brown
Millie Brown
Millie is a recent English Literature graduate with a passion for reading, writing and travel. She is currently working as a Journalist Intern at Travel Radar to further her writing skills and gain some hands-on, journalist experience. In the future, she plans on going backpacking around the world with her partner whilst also working on becoming a freelance writer and journalist.