In-Depth Look: British Airways Flights 1 - 4 and the Red Noses

This is the first in an occasional series where I take a more in-depth look into a photograph or series of photographs.

British Airways and their ultra-premium transatlantic services

Lets start with a little history. Until 2003, British Airways two Concorde flights each day from London Heathrow to New York JFK were flights 1 and 3 and the return flights were 2 and 4. Low flight numbers such as these are often reserved for routes that hold special significance to an airline such as first routes flown (JetBlue) or routes between major cities (American and Delta, New York to LA). The Concorde's exit from service in 2003 marked the departure of the premier ultra-premium service between New York and London.

Flash forward 6 years to 2009. British Airways has developed a high-end service using a very different plane to utilize the classic flight numbers 1, 2, 3, & 4. This time around, it's the Airbus A318 fitted with just 32 lie-flat business class seats. The flights leave from London City Airport (LCY) which is much closer to London's financial district than Heathrow is. While the westbound flights from New York to London can make it non-stop, for the eastbound flights the prevailing winds and the lightened fuel loads necessary to take off from the small London airport require a fuel stop. Fortunately, the airport in Shannon, Ireland can provide the plane with fuel while the passengers clear US customs, saving the time and hassle of doing it upon arrival at JFK.

Why the red nose?
Red Nose Day is a telethon- type fundraiser for the British charity Comic Relief which is held every other year. As part of the fundraiser, individuals will make a donation in exchange for a red plastic clown-type nose that has been designed with a particular theme. As a corporate sponsor for Red Nose Day, British Airways hosts several events both for its employees and the public. Probably the most significant of these was a charity flight which set world records for the "highest concert" and the (help us, please) highest Harlem Shake. Another thing that British Airways has done for the last several Red Nose Days is to give a few of its aircraft red noses. In previous years the planes selected have included a 747, a 777, and several A320s. However for the 2013 event, one of the A318s from the LCY-JFK got the red nose treatment. I was lucky enough to photograph that aircraft, on Red Nose Day 2013 (March 15) as I awaited another flight from London, the first flight of American Airlines brand new 777-300ER from Heathrow to JFK.

Below are 2 shots of G-EUNB. The first was taken in July, 2012 on my first spotting trip to JFK. The second was taken on March 15, 2013 with the red nose.