BA Celebrates 60 Years Of Transatlantic Flight With Original Crew Member

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

Peggy Thorne

The Comet 4

An original cabin crew member on the first transatlantic jet service has been reunited with the airline to mark the flight’s 60th anniversary.

British Airways invited Peggy Thorne to see how her role has changed since the ground-breaking launch on 4OCT 1958.

The 91-year-old looked after passengers on the De Havilland Comet 4 flight from London to New York. The jet reduced an 18-hour journey to around seven hours.

Thorne, who was hand-picked by bosses for the inaugural flight, said: “It was marvellous. We were used to travelling to New York on Boeing Stratocruisers which took up to 20 hours. We couldn’t believe the flight was possible in such a short time. It was so exciting to be the first.”

She told current flight attendants how she and her colleagues served Madeira biscuits, coffee, cocktails, canapes and a five-course meal during the flight.

“They ate and drank from when they got on board until the time they got off,” Thorne saild

The flight was a coup for British Airways, then called BOAC, as it beat U.S. rival Pan Am to become the first airline to fly a turbo jet aircraft across the Atlantic.

In 1958, a Comet 4 could fly 48 customers from London to New York at a cost equivalent to $13,500 today.

Bruce Parkinson

Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief

An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.

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