Next week British Airways will mark 85 years since the first inflight meal on a commercial aircraft.
The onboard meal service was introduced by Imperial Airways – an early incarnation of BA – on a flight carrying just ten passengers from London to Paris on May 1, 1927.
Hailed at the time as luxury, the refreshments on offer included sandwiches, biscuits and beef tea, as well as whisky and lager. Coffee and tea had to be prepared using hot water carried on board in Thermos flasks.
BA is celebrating the anniversary as it gears up to serve three million passengers during the London 2012 Olympic Games. As the official airline for the Games, BA last month unveiled its new menu that will be rolling out on long haul flights from July, inspired by menus from BA’s predecessor BOAC from 1948, the last time the Olympics were held in London.
The menu has been created by Michelin-starred chef Simon Hulstone, and features dishes such as gin and tonic cured salmon and hake dressed with a potato puree, a far cry from the sandwiches of 85 years ago.
“At British Airway’s we have an incredible history,” says Bill Francis, the carrier’s head on inflight service. “We’ve developed the service to our customers and even as we’ve grown from small propeller aircraft to 747’s, we’ve managed to maintain the magic that makes flying special.”
Earlier this month, British Airways was offering the opportunity to sample the new menu – which was overseen by Heston Blumenthal – at a pop-up restaurant in Shoreditch, designed to look like a plane.
The event also showcased a short film by screenwriter Prasanna Purwanarjah and the Dove aircraft livery from Pascale Anson that were commissioned by BA to honour the Games – for more information click here.
Report by Lucy Douglas