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Asia travel

IN PICTURES: British Airways celebrates 80 years of connecting Hong Kong and UK

It’s been eight decades since the first Imperial Airways flight touched down at Hong Kong’s Kai Tak airport in 1936. From ’60s cheongsam uniforms to a birth on board, there have been a lot of ups and downs in between

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 April, 2016, 1:15pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 April, 2016, 12:58pm

April 7 marks the official 80th anniversary of British Airways’ first flight from the UK to Hong Kong – though it was under the name of Imperial Airways that the airline made its first descent into Kai Tak in 1936.

An exhibition showcasing the British flag carrier’s history on the Hong Kong route – and reflecting the evolution of food culture and fashion in Hong Kong – opens at The University of Hong Kong on May 6. The show also features impressions and memories of British Airways staff over the years.

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Among them is Patricia Wong, a senior international cabin crew member from Hong Kong, who has been working with British Airways for the last 21 years. She recalls her most memorable day on the job: “On one of my flights quite a long time ago, a lady came up to our galley and told us she was pregnant and had a stomach ache.” Luckily they had a doctor on board the flight, who identified the pains as contractions. “The doctor, with the help of our first purser who was also a nurse, delivered her baby during the flight,” says Wong. “Before landing into Hong Kong, the captain made an announcement, saying, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve just had an additional passenger, a baby has just been born on board.’ I heard the applause from passengers in the cabin and I was so thrilled.”

“I remember my senior colleagues told me they used to wear traditional cheongsam,” says Wong. “When I joined in 1995, the female cabin crew wore a skirt or a dress and I wore a big round hat. Today, the female crew can choose to wear trousers.”

Wong adds: “In the old days, customers travelling in business class were mostly businessmen and they dressed quite formally. Nowadays, there are a mix of business and leisure travellers, and the dress code has become less formal.”