British Airways celebrates 75 years of connecting Britain with Japan

A BOAC (now British Airways) flying boat aircraft, 1948.
Photo Credit: British Airways

British Airways (previously known as British Airways Overseas Corporation or BOAC) is celebrating 75 years of connecting Britain with Japan.

As a special nod to the anniversary, BA will be debuting its brand new Club Suite Business Class on the London Heathrow to Tokyo Haneda route with its Boeing 777-300ER’s.

The airline’s Club Suite will appear on the route will begin from the 31st October 2023 and run through to the 29th March 2024 – the entire duration of the Winter Season.

In addition, First Class will also become available on the route from the 1st September of this year through to the end of the Winter Season on the 29th March 2024.

As for passenger experience flying Club Suite, customers can expect direct aisle access, a privacy door for greater privacy, 40% more storage over the old Business Class offered by BA, and a vanity mirror and unit.

Furthermore, passengers will get access to Wi-Fi, be able to watch an expansive collection of TV, Movies and more on a 18.5 inch inflight screen.


British Airways has also announced that the airline will be offering celebratory dishes across all 4 cabins on the Haneda route, from the 1st September to the 31st October 2023.

Dishes include the most popular dishes served on the route back im 1969 including Beef Stroganoff and Beef Cheek Okaribayaki. Furthermore, a celebratory cherry meringue gateau, the signature dessert enjoyed by travellers on the London-Anchorage sector in the same year.

British Airways CCO praises the milestone

Colm Lacy, British Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer said, “It all started with a flying boat and now Tokyo is one of our longest served and most valued destinations.”

“We’re incredibly proud of our heritage – it’s been our pleasure to connect British travellers with Japan since 1948 – and we’re looking forward to serving them for the next 75 years and beyond as we continue our investment into new products, customer experience and technology”.

A brief history of British Airways and BOAC flying to Tokyo

British Airways, or BOAC as it was known back then, first started flying to Japan when it extended its Poole to Hong Kong route on the 19th March 1948.

By November of that year, the service was extended to Yokohama, Tokyo with the flight taking a staggering 7 days stopping at 7 cities along the way. These were Augusta, Alexandria, Karachi, Calcutta, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Iwakuni.

Above: Each Japanese stewardess was given a set amount of money to buy a kimono of their choice from their local shop, the only stipulation being that it must be of a traditional pattern and design. Photo: British Airways

With the advancement in air travel through the beginning of the jet age, the need for as many stops was cut down to just 1 in the middle of the cold war, where BA flew over the north pole to Anchorage before continuing to Tokyo.

The main reason for the Anchorage stop was due to all European airlines being banned from overflying Soviet Union Air Space at the time.

Today though, BA like all European airlines, faces a similar problem with the ongoing war in Ukraine and the tension between the west and Russia higher than has ever been before, the airline is now forced to take a longer route round the south of Asia heading to Tokyo.

Adding to that, when coming back to London, the airline now follows a Transpacific and Transatlantic routing, heading north towards and over Alaska, over the North Pole and Greenland before coming down in to the UK.

Despite the challenges British Airways may face currently with its London to Tokyo route, that is not stopping them from serving Japan any time soon.

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By Lewis Chesworth 5 Min Read
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