UK domestic aviation in the 1980s – Business Traveller

Readers will know that I have often praised the standards of UK domestic aviation in decades passed.

In particular, readers and I have fond memories of British Midland’s Diamond Service.

Now enthusiastic Captain Brent posted on social media the ‘Breakfast Battle’ between British Midland and British Airways’ Super Shuttle.

This particular clip refers to air service between Belfast and London Heathrow. It includes an interview with Jim Harris, BA’s then marketing boss, and Sir Michael Bishop of British Midland.

https://twitter.com/Birdseed501?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

It’s hard to believe today. But until that time it was difficult for any airline to compete against BEA/British Airways on domestic routes from Heathrow.

Matters changed in the early 1980s when British Midland was allowed to compete against BA’s no-frills Shuttle flights. Note that, in the 1980s, both BEA and BOAC had been merged to form BA.

I was a fan of BEA’s Shuttle product of 1975 (although many were not) because of its simplicity, guaranteed seat availability and ten-minute check-in (even with luggage at Heathrow).

What Shuttle lacked, and what its customers requested, was some onboard service especially hot breakfast.

This is what Diamond Service offered in competition with BA on its trunk domestic routes from Heathrow to Belfast, Edinburgh and Glasgow. British Airways was forced to respond with Super Shuttle.

The latter was not as comprehensive as Diamond Service (from memory I cannot remember BA providing BMI’s famous afternoon cream tea) but BA did concentrate on the hot breakfast.

With the enhanced onboard service came a range of keener fares. In BEA Shuttle days, passengers would pay for their tickets onboard.

Thirty years later the hot breakfast remains a favorite for UK travellers. Recently we reported on two mainline rail operators had upgraded their offerings.

Avanti and LNER spark “breakfast war” with relaunched services

In conclusion travelers can still obtain the hot breakfast on board BA’s flights to Heathrow but only when paying higher fares.

Diamond Service and Super Shuttle provided onboard catering service to all passengers regardless of fare paid.

ba.com

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