BA100: 27. Imperial Airways’ Silver Wing Service

100 Years Of British Airways: Imperial Airways’ Silver Wing service, introduced in 1927.

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Imperial Airways Armstrong Whitworth aircraft with three Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar Engines.

This article was first published in the summer of 2019 as part of a 100 part series on the history of British Airways and its predecessor airlines, Imperial Airways, BOAC and BEA. You can browse the full series of 100 stories in numerical order, by theme or by decade.

Note many articles have been updated since they were first published.

On 1 May 1927, Imperial Airways introduced its “Silver Wing” service on the London – Paris route.

This is considered as the first ever luxury in flight service and achieved recognition worldwide at the time.

It was operated with a dedicated fleet of three Armstrong Whitworth Argosy three engined aircraft, named the City of Birmingham, City of Glasgow and City of Wellington.

The aircraft were painted silver externally and also had silver and grey cabin interiors. New more comfortable seating with shoulder and head rests was also installed.

You can see footage of the Imperial Airways City of Glasgow aircraft in flight in this silent film above.

The aim of the service was to make air travel more popular and to compete against the Golden Arrow service on Continental Railways. The flight left London at noon each day. On the two hour and 30 minute flight a steward would serve a four course lunch and offer a bar service to the 20 passengers on board the aircraft.

The Silver Wing service was also offered on weekend pleasure flights over London which departed Croydon on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Imperial Airways Weekend Afternoon Tea Flights Over London, Summer 1930

The concept of the “Silver Wing” service was also adopted by the successor airline British European Airlines.

You can continue reading our 100 part series on the history of British Airways and its predecessor airlines Imperial Airways, BOAC and BEA in numerical order, by theme or by decade.

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