BOAC Lands in New York Again After 45 Years (Sort Of)

Feb 19, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

When British Airways flight 117 took off from London Heathrow this morning, it wasn’t just one of the dozen daily BA flights between London and New York — this one was special. An aircraft in a livery that hadn’t landed on US soil in decades touched down at JFK Tuesday, bringing back memories of the early days of jets and the Golden Age of Travel.

Monday, British Airways unveiled a special Boeing 747 decked out in the livery of the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) — the predecessor of British Airways. And Tuesday the special Jumbo Jet flew its first commercial flight in the new colors, landing at JFK airport on runway 31R at 10:47am.

Image by Brendan Dorsey / The Points Guy

The special-livery 747 is the first of a handful of aircraft to be painted in retro liveries as part of the 100-year anniversary of British Airways. Retro-colored airplanes are a big trend lately, with many airlines painting planes in their old color schemes.

BOAC was created in 1939 when the first iteration of British Airways and Imperial Airways merged. A state-owned airline, the carrier flew until 1974 when BOAC and British European Airways joined forces and formed what is today’s British Airways. BOAC flew its first commercial 747 flight in 1971, using the then-new 747-100 model, which had made its first flight just two years earlier. Another reason for BA to place the retro livery on the 747 was to celebrate the Jumbo Jet’s 50th birthday.

While this may not have been a real BOAC airplane, the landing marked a return of the airline, of sorts, to the Transatlantic service it used to be known for along with such storied, and also defunct, names such as Pan Am and TWA.

This 747-400, registered as G-BYGC, is 20 years old. It operated its inaugural commercial service with a flight from London to Johannesburg in 1999. British Airways historian Jim Davies spoke at JFK today, telling a group of journalists that the aircraft has performed 10,457 landings over its lifespan.

There are a few signs that this is a more modern version of the Queen of the Skies and not the 747-100 that operated with BOAC in the early ’70s. At the rear of the aircraft there’s a small British Airways logo, the dates the airline has been in operation, and a ‘100’ that appears as if it was written on the side of the jet with a giant Sharpie.

Image by Brendan Dorsey / The Points Guy.

Things aboard those BOAC 747-100s looked very, very different from today. In the image below is the first-class section in the nose of the plane in a vintage shot. These days, first and business class aboard BA 747s aren’t the top product in the world — several competitors have arguably far better seats.

First class passengers in a BOAC Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet are served lunch. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images

G-BYGC will be retired in 2023, along with the rest of BA’s fleet of 34 Jumbo Jets by February 2024. British Airways says it plans on painting a few other aircraft in “heritage liveries,” although the airline has yet to reveal what color schemes those will be, and what airplane models will get them.

Unfortunately no retrofits were completed on the inside of G-BYGC while it underwent its exterior makeover, and when TPG asked if any of the 747s would be getting BA’s new business class which will be rolling out on its soon-to-be-delivered A350s this summer, Hamish McVey, head of Brand and Marketing at BA, told us that they would not be seeing any upgrades.

Image by Brendan Dorsey / The Points Guy.

On display at the airline’s first class Concorde lounge at JFK’s Terminal 7 was real BOAC paraphernalia, including items like ashtrays, employee newsletters and 747 promotional materials.

Image by Brendan Dorsey / The Points Guy.
Image by Brendan Dorsey / The Points Guy.

A few British Airways employees dusted off old BOAC uniforms and modeled for the cameras.

Image by Brendan Dorsey / The Points Guy.

This 747 will fly back to London Tuesday and then on to Chicago (ORD) the next day. It will be in commercial service so if you want to fly it, you can try and plan on tracking its routing on a website like FlightRadar24.

There a few different mileage currencies you can redeem for flights on British Airways, the most common being American Airlines miles and British Airways Avios. A one-way flight in economy from New York JFK to London Heathrow goes for 20,000 Avios (13,000 off-peak), but you’ll be hit with significant fuel surcharges. Booking through American will cost you 22,500 miles off-peak or 30,000 miles on peak dates. You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Membership Rewards to Avios at a 1:1 ratio.

The British Airways Visa Signature Card is currently offering a bonus of 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. Plus earn a Travel Together Ticket after you spend $20,000 total on purchases within your first year of account opening.

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® has a sign-up bonus of 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.   

All images by the author.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.