British Airways marks 85 years of In-flight Service

Imperial Airways C Class Flying Boat, meal service

 British Airways marks 85 years of In-flight Service
85 years on, British Airways serves around 100,000 meals a day to customers

1st May 2012 will mark 85 years since the first in-flight meal service on a commercial aircraft.  Food in the air has come a long way since then.

In 1927, Imperial Airways (predecessor to British Airways) introduced the Silverwing branded air service on the London to Paris route. The flight offered the first luxury onboard meal service. A male steward dressed in a smart white tunic served just ten passengers on the flight, which took around two hours.

Onboard was a small cabinet carrying four gills (servings) of whisky, a dozen bottles of lager beer, two siphons of sparkling water and twelve assorted bottles of mineral water. They also carried a packet of sandwiches or biscuits and one or two thermos flasks of hot water, within which the steward made coffee or beef tea to nourish the passengers during the flight.  The service represented the height of luxury, up until this time passengers had to fend for themselves, packing homemade snacks for the journey.

85 years on, British Airways’ cabin crew serve around 100,000 meals a day to customers, often with more than one meal on an individual flight. The airline’s 14,000 crew are trained in the art of premium service. They are taught skills which include how to tell a Merlot from a Shiraz, how to cook the perfect scrambled eggs and how to re-create a five star turndown service.

Beatrice Kamanga, the Commercial Manager for British Airways in Zambia said: “At British Airways we have an incredible history. We’ve developed the service to our customers and even as we’ve grown from small propeller aircraft to Boeing 747’s, we’ve managed to maintain the magic that makes flying special.”

More information on the history of British Airways can be found at the British Airways Heritage Collection, which opened in November 2011, based at British Airways Waterside Corporate head office and is open to members of the public.  Information from the collection can also be found online at

About British Airways
British Airways is one of the world’s largest international airlines carrying approximately 36 million passengers around the world every year.  British Airways flies three times a week between London and Lusaka.  Visit for more information.

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