As I reported yesterday, BA’s last B767 flight landed back at Heathrow on Sunday and BA gave it a great send off. TLFL had a secret reporter on the flight who is here to tell us all about what went on……
British Airways took delivery of its first 767 almost 30 years ago and it has been a stable workhorse of the fleet during that time, with every passenger she has flown making it safely to their destination. Through the 1990s, the 767 was the most frequent aircraft to operate transatlantic routes and its peak, BA had 27 in operation (including serving the Manchester to JFK service). There was even a dedicated 767 fleet of pilots and cabin crew. The aircraft flew a mix of long-haul, mid-haul and short-haul flights and at one stage, it even featured a First Class cabin. BA had a choice of 3 engine types for the aircraft and opted for the most powerful, the Rolls Royce.
The long haul config used to be 2-2-2 with fully flat beds. It was always a treat to have one of them on short-haul routes such as Glasgow. The long haul config disappeared a couple of years ago and the remaining aircraft had the standard European config. Club Europe (Business Class) could go as far back as row 17 providing 86 seats. In Club Europe, they didn’t sell the middle E seat, giving a 2-2-2 config, but the seats on A/B and J/K were no different to economy other than having 2 inches extra leg room.
Alas, with ever-increasing focus on fuel efficiency and new technology, she was failing to compete with her newer siblings such as the 787s. As time passed, there were only 2 767s left in the BA fleet (G-BZHA and G-BZHB – more commonly known within BA as Hotel Alpha and Hotel Bravo). She was showing her age as she approached the end of her life, but she was adored by so many passengers who will be sad to see her go (like an old pair of slippers). Her following was evident on the last rotation of the 767 to Larnaca with a large number of enthusiasts flying on the last ever service.
Planning the last flight
British Airways wanted to make a fuss of her farewell and started preparing months in advance. All of the crew for the last rotation were hand selected through an internal bidding process. Each member of Eurofleet were asked to say in no more than 500 words why they should be chosen to operate the final flight. In the end, a total of 4 flight deck and 12 cabin crew were selected: 4 CSDs, 6 main crew and 2 operating Inflight Business Managers (IBMs – effectively the crew managers in BA). There are of course only 10 crew seats on the 767, so the 2 IBMs had to be given passenger seats for take-off and landing. To put this in context, the standard crew would be 2 flight deck and 7 cabin crew, so we really were spoiled with having so many crew onboard! The cabin crew were not just saying goodbye to the 767, they were also saying goodbye to the Larnaca route, since from the end of November, the route switches to the newer Mixed Fleet at BA who will be operating it as a ‘there and back’ (i.e. no overnight stays) on the Airbus fleet of aircraft.
The crew operated the outbound BA662 flight on Saturday 24th November and returned on the BA663 on Sunday 25th November. In addition to the crew, BA also launched an internal competition for colleagues to fly on the last rotation, which included flights, an overnight stay in a hotel and a party in Nicosia on the Saturday night. All of the cabin crew operating the last rotation were invited to the party, along with the competition winners and the local Larnaca staff who handle the British Airways operation. I’m told a good night was had by all and some great stories of the 767 were told.
There was a party atmosphere even at the gate, with many aviation enthusiasts, airline employees and frequent fliers at the gate early. Even the handling agents at the gate were taking selfies to commemorate the last flight.
The aircraft pulled in for the last time to the gate at LCA.
Onboard, there were 16 rows of Club Europe, with a flight load of around 95% between both cabins.
The crew had very mixed emotions and there were some tears during the final ascent as a passenger aircraft. Being truly professional, the tears were soon wiped away and the onboard service began. In Business Class, there were 3 CSDs, 3 main crew and an IBM. All of the crew were simply amazing. They never once stopped and were constantly in the cabin chatting to passengers and making sure everyone’s drinks were topped up. The service really was BA at its best! They created a real party atmosphere and did everything they could to make sure that all passengers had a great time.
The meal service was the standard service for this route and started with a drink from the bar followed by the meal service. Around the time of the drinks service, the First Officer gave a history of the 767 which was a lovely touch.
Around an hour before landing, the crew came round with glasses of Champagne for the entire plane (with soft drinks as an alternative) and asked us to keep them to hand to make a toast to the 767. One of the CSDs then made a heartfelt speech and we all raised a glass. The cabin erupted into rounds of applause.
Around an hour after take-off, the Captain came out into the galley and personally spoke to all passengers. It took her about 1.5 hours to complete the walk through! The Captain was retiring after the flight landed so it was a very emotional time for her. The crew also came round with certificates of the last ever flight which was a lovely touch, which the Captain (and the rest of the crew) were very happy to sign.
We were soon on the ground and escorted to the gate by ground vehicles and the police were waiting at the gate to say farewell to the Captain which was a lovely gesture. As a souvenir, we were also given permission to take the safety cards off with us when we landed since they won’t be needed again.
As sad as it is to see the last BA 767 go out of service, I look forward to the new aircraft that are coming into the fleet and the new product development that is underway in long haul.
TLFL for less has kindly been given one of the B767 safety cards and a certificate for the final B767 flight to give away by our secret reporter. If you would like to win it, just enter the competition below. Good luck!