By conducting a flight with an all-Black crew for the first time ever, British Airlines recently created aviation history. A proud moment that had encrypted its way into black history.
Sarah Diane Louis, an inflight manager from St. Lucia, piloted flight BA 255 when it departed from London Heathrow Airport on February 8, 2023, for Bridgetown, Barbados.
Sarah mentioned that she began working for British Airlines in 2011 as a member of the cabin crew before registering for the Future Talent Crew (FTC) Program, which helped to prepare her for a managerial post. After completing projects, graduating, and accompanying other managers on flights, she sought for a management post. She is now an in-flight manager.
She explained, “It was a great program. It helps you understand if you are on the right track. You learn different management styles and have a better understanding of your way of managing others and situations. After the course, you graduate and apply for a managerial position which recently changed names from Customer Service Manager to Inflight Manager.”
The BeME (Being of a Minority Ethnicity) colleague network organization of British Airways, which honors the contributions of ethnic coworkers to the success of the company, planned the trip. Sarah expressed her joy at steering the all-Black crew on this historic flight while repping both herself and her native St. Lucia.
She expressed, “It was a magical day and we worked incredibly well as a team. Our customers were delighted with the exceptional service received from our crew. The feedback on social media platforms from our customers and the public has been overwhelming and has gone viral. Thank you to British Airways for giving us the platform to make history. When you’re a leader operating a historic flight, the pressure is on you to ensure that you support your crew and empower them to make an impact as all eyes are on you. As a little girl growing up, I always dreamt about traveling the world and working for British Airways. I am honored and humbled to have been a part of this momentous occasion. This is the importance of representation because it inspires others to be what they can see.”
In addition, Sarah discussed the value of being oneself, encouraging young people in the Caribbean to work hard and have faith in their aspirations.
“It’s achievable, you have to put in the hard work and believe in yourself. For managers, be true to yourself and be the change that you want to see. Empower your team so they feel confident. Delegating is also very important because you can’t do it all on your own.”
The aircraft and cabin crew, ground workers, airport gate team, and dispatchers were all members of the all-black crew. The flight marked a turning point for British Airlines because it was a big move in the right direction for inclusion and diversity.
Young people must believe in their aspirations, and managers must give their teams the freedom and trust they need to accomplish, as demonstrated by Sarah’s guidance. The team’s effectiveness depends on its cohesiveness. The success of the all-Black flight serves as a reminder of the value of diversity, representation, and fostering an inclusive atmosphere for all, and that is the rhythm of success.
An employee of British Airlines tweeted with the hashtags #WeMadeHistory and #BlackHistory, “A very monumental day in BA’s history. So grateful to have been a part of this.”
The worker also provided images of the crew at the terminal and on the airplane stairway.
One tourist tweeted that when the captain announced that the whole crew consisted of Black personnel, the passengers applauded.
Another passenger tweeted, “I was honored to be a passenger on your first all-Black crew flight from Barbados today. The service was outstanding and it was celebrated by all. Well done especially to D’Andra for taking care of us.”
A British Airlines spokesperson told Insider: “We’re proud to have supported our Be ME (Being of a Minority Ethnicity) colleague network group to organize British Airways’ first ever all-Black colleague flight, celebrating the contribution our Black colleagues make to the airline and highlighting how important representation and role models are to drive greater diversity.”
They continued, “We’ve got more work to do, and, as part of our BA Better World strategy we’re creating inclusion and diversity programs and building partnerships with groups like Fantasy Wings to help break down barriers and ensure underrepresented groups are able to access the exciting opportunities available within the aviation industry.”
British Airways pilot Dave Wallsworth noted in a tweet earlier this month that employees were no longer permitted to share images or videos taken while “professionally engaged” in their work according to recently announced corporate standards.
On February 2, the airline stated that it was not prohibiting personnel from blogging on social media: “We’ve simply refreshed our existing guidelines, giving our people – our biggest ambassadors – more clarity about what’s appropriate. E.g. no photos when carrying out safety-critical or customer-focused tasks.”