Around three years ago British developed a photo app which is installed into all the pilots' iPads called “View from the Flight Deck”. I believe this is now called “BA Photo App” but I guess they will know what you mean if you mention either one.
At the time BA's PR department released this image which shows the official British Airways frame around the photo. It includes details of your flight and aircraft, probably more than most laypersons would know. The pilots would email you the photo and encourage you to upload to various social media channels using the hashtag #BAUpClose.
A few weeks ago Kevin from Economy Class and Beyond planned an impromptu AvGeek trip together, taking advantage of British Airways flying a Boeing 777 between London and Madrid once per day. While I don't want to spoil the upcoming trip report on that part, let's just say one of us got extremely lucky and got the best seat a customer can get. So wanting to make this trip even more memorable we hatched a plan.
One key sentence in the announcement of the new app at the time was:
The airline’s pilots encourage customers of all ages to come forward to visit the flight deck whenever the opportunity permits before departure or after the plane has landed.
We weren't sure if this was just polite talk or genuine. So as two adults with an average age close to 40, just after we took our seats we asked the flight attendant nicely if we could have our picture taken in the cockpit. Over in hyper-paranoid US I am fairly sure this would be declined but imagine our surprise when the flight attendant came back 3 minutes later to say the Captain had invited us in!
The Captain did try to launch his “View From The Flight Deck” app but it would not load for whatever reason. No bother, as smartphone pictures are of decent quality these days…
We had a 20 minute delay to our flight but it was enough to get these snaps in and have a quick chat with our pilots before push back. Normally you will only be able to access the flight deck before taxiing or after the plane has arrived — just not mid-flight!
For all the trash talk I once gave BA, I have to commend them for giving me this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Surprisingly it seems not many travellers know about this privilege and it can make for adorable photos if you have young children who have an insatiable appetite for all things aviation.
A HUGE thanks to Captain Ian and First Officer Paul, and also Flight Attendant Aisha for relaying our request. It turns out all three were insane AvGeeks too and visibly happy to chat to fellow geeks too. I sent all three “thank you” notes on BA's official compliments channel and I hope it reaches them.