British Airways has for many years, been the largest commercial operator of the iconic Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet. The Heathrow-based airline currently has 36 of the distinctive aircraft in its fleet and doesn’t have plans to retire all of them until the end of 2024 (although half that number will have been sent to the desert by 2021).
With that in mind, you’re likely to see a British Airways ‘Queen of the Skies’ gracing airport taxiways for a few years to come at least. They might be starting to show their age and certainly receive mixed passenger reviews but by 2024, getting the chance to fly on a 747 or even see one in the skies is going to become a very rare treat.
So what does it take to satisfy the demands of passengers on one of these beasts? Well, the average British Airways 747 is able to accommodate around 300 passengers and with the summer holidays in Europe in full-swing expect spare seats to be a very rare commodity.
Spare a thought then, for BA’s catering team who have to unload and then load a staggering 7,000 items in the matter of a few hours between flights. The airline is against the clock as it aims to get many of its long-haul aircraft turned around and ready for the next load of passengers in just a few hours.
British Airways is famed for its open bar policy on intercontinental flights so its little surprise that more than 101 full-sized bottles of wine and 388 quarter sized bottles are loaded as quickly as possible. Then comes around 350 packets of pretzels, a staggering 800 items of bedding (coincidentally, the airline recently upgraded Business Class passengers to luxe White Company duvets).
And should a passenger manage to injure themselves onboard, you’ll be pleased to hear that five First Aid kits are loaded on every flight – more than enough, we would imagine, to go around.
On top of that, caterers need to find space for:
- 493 meal trays,
- 798 glasses,
- 500 coasters,
- 473 cans of Coca-Cola (Including Diet and Zero),
- 282 Blankets, and
- 319 air sickness bags
Perhaps a case of ‘too much information’ but British Airways has even taken the liberty to share with us that they load 78 toilets rolls for use in one of the 13 lavatories you’ll find onboard.
All these stats came from the typical loading sheets for a British Airways flight between London and New York. A vastly important route for the airline, which was recently revealed to be the only Billion Dollar airline route in the world. Or to be precise, between April 2017 and March 2018, BA raked in some $1,037,724,867 flying passengers between the two cities.
According to Forbes, BA’s planes spent some 42,117 hours flying between London and New York in that 12-month time frame – equating to revenue of $24,638 per hour of flight.
You might also ask what British Airways is carrying below the passenger cabin in the aircraft hold. Well, surprisingly, some 26% of cargo is made up of ‘priority products’ like fashion and even the latest smartphones. The good news though, is that fresh fruit and vegetables account for just 4% of cargo capacity – although the airline did recently ship an emergency shipment of lettuce owing to the UK’s summer heatwave.
British Airways isn’t everyone’s favourite airline but it’s fascinating to see what goes into keeping a plane like the 747 well-stocked and ready to go. After several years of cutbacks, the airline has announced a huge investment plan – including new catering in both its Economy and Business Class cabins.
Despite a €65 million charge from a widely publicised power failure in May 2017, which led to the cancellation of hundreds of flights and stranded thousands of passengers, British Airways recently reported a half-year profit of €868 million (before exceptional items).