British Airways Explains Britishness In New Video

Filed Under: British Airways, Videos

British Airways does a great job with much of their marketing, in my opinion. For example, their 2013 “Visit Mum” campaign had to be one of the most touching airline ads I’ve ever seen. Since then they’ve had a great series called “BA Magic,” where they help people create some special memories through travel. They’ve helped people in all kinds of situations, and the series has consistently put a smile on my face.

British Airways has just revealed their latest campaign, which is a bit more lighthearted. Specifically, in this video British Airways explains Britishness, as they put it. Here’s how they describe the video:

Ever wonder about British tipping etiquette, mushy peas, or the correct way to pronounce ‘aluminum’? British Airways chatted with US travelers that recently visited the UK to discuss their thoughts on all things British in its “Britishness Explained” Campaign. From culture and food to demeanor and social norms, US travelers returning home shared their lingering questions on the cultural habits that stood out while across the pond—and we tapped British Airways Ambassadors for their expertise to answer them.

With many things royal taking place this year, British Airways is helping Americans get up to speed on all things British, and proving they are the authority on travel to the UK.

Here’s the video:

At first I thought it was a bit cheesy and that the questions were (especially) dumb, though in the end I found the whole thing to be quite charming.

What did you make of British Airways’ explanation of Britishness?

  1. London is built on the wealth and labor of billions of black and brown people.

    In addition to enslaving people through their empire, they profited handsomely from transporting slaves to the new world, and when they finally “banned” it they actually contnued it under the name “indentured labor”. Let them choke on their mushy peas, I say. I wouldn’t fly BA if they paid me.

  2. @Chuck Lesker – who would you fly then? Name a major airline that’s from a country with a completely untainted history.

  3. What @Chuck Lesker, and,

    BA actually needs to admit that it has lackluster service and implement genuine steps to improve such service. The “Britishness” propaganda does not improve the experience of the BA travelers.

  4. @Kalbotz

    I’m a Londoner, and therefore a bit of a captive audience for BA (though have flown long haul business on several other one world carriers).

    The sense I get is that Brits find BA service OK, and actually don’t really like a more fawning / personal / “engaging” service. We are used to people in customer service roles being non-intrusive and, on occasion, pretty direct and rude. And we don’t mind it!

    Not to say that BA are perfect – very far from it – but the service suits Brits.


  5. @Chuck Lesker. While I am in no way defending the slave trade that caused the suffering of millions of innocent Africans the US is not excempt from these crimes either. The entire economy of the US in the 18th century was built on plantations run on back breaking slavery. The UK was the first colonial nation to abolish slavery and started the anti-slave movement while the US continued using slave labour until the outbreak of the civil war in the mid 19th Century. The US would be in no way the world power it is today without slavery. Racism still continued to a large extent way through to 1970 where African-Americans we’re forced to have an oppressed way of living. So it’s a bit rich to talk about the British in that way

  6. First of all hardly anyone eats fish and chips. It’s a myth. Maybe in some regions And mushy peas ?

    Most drink coffee, not tea.

    And they have no idea how to prepare tea here. Another myth. If you ask for tea you are given a a tea bag in cup of hot water and in London charged £3 for the privilege

    However London has the most varied choice of restaurants of almost any city in the world

    And people are generally not polite
    It’s not Mary Poppins. They don’t line up and push and shove when it comes to boarding buses or trains

  7. haha of course a discussion about slave labour on a BA video, why not?

    The reason that most British people fly BA is the same as why most Americans fly on American airlines, they have no choice. The average person doesn’t even know about airline alliances, and probably only goes on expedia to book a ticket. If people were more intelligent with their purchases, BA would die (or adapt).

  8. The mushy peas thing is a bit odd. I’m a Brit who lives in London and I can’t even remember the last time I saw that on a menu. I think I’ve had it once or twice in my life.

  9. No one eats fish and chips? What the…

    Yes they do. Mushy peas also.

    If you’re getting a pot of hot water and a teabag that’s not how most of us make tea for ourselves.

    I remember when Lucky wasn’t impressed to get a miniature of gin and a tunic and it was not mixed. Too right. Give us the glass, the ice and the unadulterated other two ingredients.

  10. @Icarus

    Brits don’t line up for buses? You’ve obviously never seen the bus stops outside Waterloo – busiest station in the UK – in the morning rush hour. Lines. Lots of lines. No one organising them. They just happen.

    Anything that happens at bus stops in the provinces (ie outside zone 1) is no concern of mine.

    (V good chipper that has excellent fish and chips with mushy peas near Waterloo too)

  11. Back in the 90’s I was proud to fly business class on BA, participate in their mileage programme, and enjoy their unparalleled network (based in the UK so it was easy). Since then it has been a sad decline with the airline squeezed between much cheaper competitors swamping the European routes and cheaper and better long haul alternatives. I have never seen a benefit in arriving a couple of hours earlier if the journey has been unpleasant so would rather have a longer journey in greater comfort.

    BA needs to decide if they are a national airline with an international brand and network or EasyJet/Ryanair/AirAsia blah blah. Seem to me that they are trying to con us that they are the former, but their actions suggest the latter.

  12. To quote John Oliver “We invented words. We tell you how they are supposed to sound”

    BTW Awful commercial (as usual) for a barely ok airline. I pity the cabin crew that is dedicated to the job but BA is just awful.

  13. @ David : I’m with you on this one – who, not that. I’d also put a comma after travellers. But the whole thing is confused. The Scots hate the English; the Welsh hate the English; the Irish hate the English; most other nationalities hate the English. We, the English, have learnt to live with being hated, and console iurselves by eating mushy peas!

  14. The silent wish of the majority of Americans to sound British and adapt some British way of life
    But pls. do not sound like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins when trying to sound British! I recommend more Downtown Abbey for Beginners to be refined!
    Don’t worry in the beginning it is hard but as you say do not be a defeatist, it is so middle class!..or here it would be Economy class!

  15. Hmm, yum! mushy peas with vinegar..chips with gravy..spotted dick..chip butty..bacon sarnie ..missed these comfort fav foodies of mine..these remembers of Britishness and of course with a cup of tea!

  16. I suppose it’s representative of the vacuous superficiality that is mostly what leisure travel is.

    I suspect most of us don’t do leisure travel to somewhere to learn about any deeply unpleasant history or tragedy, whether that’s Britain’s imperial, slave-economy past, or racially-motivated lynchings in the US, or Nazi genocide in Germany.

    Though where we do, it always feels very uncomfortable to me (tours of Auschwitz? Or, at a more intimate level, “let’s go scuba diving at the site of a shipwreck” – forget about the terror of the drownings, just look at all that lovely coral and the beautiful fish (why not have walking treks to the site of a coach crash, where we can admire the lovely plants and animals?).

    But cultural differences should be interesting and fun (though it’s fascinating to see how many Americans on here are outraged at James’ use of British or Australian English, as if American English is The One True Way Given By God…). The observation that the British tend to be more reserved (or cold or stand-off-ish, depending on your point of view) is well made. I find the compulsive sharing of most Americans to be a form of intrusive incontinence, especially since so many don’t seem to have learned the difference between indoor and outdoor voices!

    I’m more interested that BA chose 4 women to “represent” it, not any of their male staff. Though those uniforms are beginning to look wildly out of date. Those hats…

  17. I mean it’s a nice ad, but it just reminds me of why I’d want to go back to the UK – on a different airline, seeing as almost every single airline flies to LHR

  18. I wish I had these flight attendants serving me rather than the teenage maturity and teenage looking mixed fleet on my last flight

  19. Yeah British habbits like let die Alfie Evans and not let the parents transfer him to Italy. VERY BRITISH!

  20. @Myles
    + 1 for the Spotted Dick. No one mentions Toad in the Hole though.
    BA has made some progress with diversity. Only a few decades ago it was all Sloane Square, Hockey Mistress types ( sounding posh but probably dumb as a box of rocks). Better these days with staff a better reflection of the society.

  21. Chuck Lesker- I am British and lived outside UK all my life working to improve the lives of people in Africa and Asia . I would never fly BA or American Airlines or United.
    However , I read your remarks about London being built by black and brown slave labour. London was built by the British over many decades, more than 900 years . It is a historical city . After WW2 it was rebuilt by British white people. Black immigrants only started coming to UK in 1952 and took lower paid jobs then . You need to check your facts and British history.

    Will Garside gives a very honest perspective and points out that the USA is also guilty of using cheap labour immigrants

  22. @ Fonzi

    That’s a bit dismissive: High Court judges spend their lives trying to balance a host of irresolvable conflicts in appalling and complex cases like this. But the bottom line is always: what is in the child’s best interests?

    Parents are clearly likely to have a passionate position. But the child also has rights. The court considered all the evidence and made a decision. I can’t say I’m pleased with the outcome – I doubt if anyone is – but it was probably the least-worst thing that could happen.

  23. @ paolo

    Toad in the hole a classic foodie as well. What has @James said to are eccentric..yeah, proud to be one!
    Yeah, @James just hold on there and keep writing those reports..the others are right..we need more British-Australian-European view in some aspects here…sometimes it gets too American, the world has enough of it! Diversity we say ..diversity shall be!!

  24. I quite like the video especially as an Australian that’s how we pronounce oregano and aluminium and I love fish and chips

  25. @CraigTPA I’d say Scandinavian Airlines and Finnair come from countries with a RELATIVELY untainted history.

  26. @VT-CIF. Are you mad? The Romans (Italians) invaded Britain in AD43, trying to conquer the Ancient Brits, Picts, Celts (Welsh, Irish and Scottish). After that, for 400 years southern Britain was part of the Roman world. The last Roman soldiers left Britain in AD 410, and then new people came in ships across the North Sea. Historians call them Anglo-Saxons. The new settlers, after long periods of raping, looting and pillaging, were a mixture of people from north Germany, Denmark and northern Holland. Most were Saxons, Angles and Jutes. There were some Franks and Frisians too. If we use the modern names for the countries they came from, the Saxons, Franks and Frisians were German-Dutch, the Angles were southern Danish, and Jutes were northern Danish. After them came the Vikings, from Norway, Denmark and (possibly?) Sweden. The Vikings also raided and settled in France and from there, the Normans also invaded Englan

    Thus us modern Brits are largely descended from a bigger melange of races, having suffered long periods of enslavery and bondage, than any other comparable nation of size. That’s why us Brits, while initially reserved, are an inherently friendly, phlegmatic people.

    Chuck Lester, learn some proper history rather than propaganda!

    Thank You (We’re also very polite…)

  27. @ Fonzi Dismissive? Really? Judge who decided to KILL him doesnt even have children. Why they do not let him go for treatment to Italy. I get Italian citizenship. Why he was hold up. The Italian wanted to help him. I despise the culture of death which become now prevalent. Where is the Hippocrates oath to help? And suddenly 2 hours after a shot of something from nurses he dies.
    They tried all that he wont survive 2nd birthday. Why? They would have to pay! I would like to see you what would you do in this situation. Let the child die?

  28. Typical anglo propaganda. No thanks . Both the us and britain are fully aware of their awful histories. They can keep their goobers peas/mashed peas and fish/chips and nonsense.
    The pr marketing campaign–aka–Eddie Bernays—was a well worn tactic to sell square tires. Pour honey on a turd, that the anglo way.

  29. Haha the number of trolls that came out to comment on this article, starting with an incredibly uninformed comment on the tragedy of the slave trades, is really astonishing, even by recent standards on here.

    I thought it was a cute commercial, not as well done as the BA Magic, but will entertain the average American flyer (my parents would find this cute and it would possibly even affect their choice of carrier when they next fly over, for example).

    On a broader note I am happy that BA is getting back to focus on “Britishness” as a selling point, something they used to do so well as I recall in the “good old days” of the 90s and 2000s, and I generally find their crews quite good – just came off a GRU-LHR flight with BA that had a delightful cabin crew. Now if they could hurry up and roll out the new J seat we might really be getting somewhere…

  30. @ Fonzi

    Yes, it’s exactly that sort of hysteria that turns a dying child into a playground for every quack wanting to try out medical experiments.

    I fail to see how the parental status of any of the (many, senior) judges in this case has any bearing on their judgments. Your ad hominem attack on one single judge shows just how little you know about the issues here.

    Quite what any of this has to do with British Airways is beyond me.

  31. @The nice Paul

    First i do not understand why even has to be judge involved. Second i do not understand why they do not let the child take to Italy. Btw that hospital has previous history selling organs but that is not the topic.
    And to your question what this has to do with BA; in the clip they mentioned the British way so that triggered my response. Btw Barnevernet sounds familiar. Taking kids from their parents. But that is really off topic.
    Over and out.

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