Cranky on the Web: 20 Years of BA in Phoenix

British Airways, Cranky on the Web

Cranky on the Web

Since 1996, reliable daily arrival of British Airways jet has captivated Phoenix aviation enthusiastsArizona Republic
Twenty years ago, British Airways began flying to Phoenix and to this day it remains the only nonstop to Europe (others have tried and failed). It’s amazing it’s been 20 years, mostly because I can still remember wandering over to the airport to see the festivities. I wasn’t even a lowly college intern at America West back then, so I had no reason to be there. But since anyone could go through security in those days, I decided to go. The Arizona Republic asked for some of my memories about the service, and they printed much of what I said.

For those in the US, Happy Independence Day on Monday. I’ll be doing the all-American thing and stuffing my face with hot dogs. I’ll be back Tuesday with a new post.

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14 comments on “Cranky on the Web: 20 Years of BA in Phoenix

  1. I lived in the Valley of the Sun (aka Surface of the Sun) for almost 20 years. My last office was at 48th and Broadway in Tempe and the daily BA arrival was a BIG thing — even if we were at Monte’s for happy hour. ;)

  2. Used to do this flight on the way to San Diego (BA only offered ‘direct’ but not ‘non-stop’ to San Diego); what I really loved was after you got to Sky Harbor, 90% of the passengers got off, and stayed off – which meant a short domestic hop on a near-deserted 747.

    Less amusing was the LHR-PHX-SAN trip where I spent 10 hours sat next to a dude with malaria, coughing and spluttering for the duration….

  3. I used to watch as it flew over Sun Devil Stadium during Cardinals games there. More often than not in those days, watching the plane was far more compelling than watching the football game.

  4. That is a really interesting story! While I have seen the BA bird when flying in and out of Phoenix, that is quite a history! We plane watch BA at YVR at 6:40pm each night as they just changed from 2 flights of 747’s a day in the summer to one 380. It is currently the only 380 that flies into Vancouver and is a sight to see as it flies down the valley. So more 747’s have been released to continue flying to Phoenix in the future!

  5. I love seeing that big bird coming in when I am out and about. And it is usually full. I really wish AA would do a non stop or two to Europe out of PHX…so I can non rev.

  6. IMHO, there’s nothing like watching a 747 in action! (A close second: watching the Aurora Borealis dance from its cockpit.)

  7. I worked for Delta in PHX before making the move to SEA and one of the perks of working night shift was that BA 747 would always be taking off right at dusk and most of the time it would fly towards the sunset. Truly a beautiful sight.

  8. Actually the service started with ex-British Caledonia DC-10’s and went to/from LGW originally. British Caledonian actually held the route authority, but had not started it up yet at the time they were taken over by BA.

    Fortunately by that time the aircraft had been refitted to BA standards. I had the misfortune of flying an LGW-LAX on a B-CAL D10 before it was re-fitted, and it had one of the worst excuses for a F cabin I have ever traveled in. At various the time the aircraft on the run has been a DC-10, 747-400 and 777-200ER.

  9. The article mentions a short-lived LTU service to DUS on an A340. I believe it was Lufthansa to FRA (LTU never had A340s).

    1. Konstantin – I don’t remember if LTU ever did serve Phoenix. IBut yes, the Lufthansa A340 is probably what she’s talking about which lasted a few years in the early part of the 2000s.

      1. LTU did serve PHX-DUS 1-2x per week from 1996 to 1998. BA did their ground handling ran a mix of 767-300s and MD-11s on the route. I remember hearing the MD-11s were horribly weight-restricted in the summer.

  10. Doubt I would have come to Phoenix in 1999 if it wasn’t for this direct flight from my home in UK. Met my now wife here in AZ on that trip, we were married in 2000 and celebrate 16 years of marriage later this year. I’ve flown many times over the years, both Rev & Non-Rev, it will be interesting to see what BA do when they ditch the 747 from this route!

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