How British Airways finally got it Right

My earliest memories of BA while growing up in Bombay was the BA Face Advert.  The most striking thing is its sound track Aria on Air by Malcolm McLaren, a recording of The Flower Duet from the opera Lakmé which will always  be labelled in my memory as the BA theme song. Just like the Titan advertisements in India which adopted Mozart’s 25th symphony as their signature theme track.

But that was nearly twenty five years ago? And finally after all this time, BA has come up with this ad/ nay a five minute clip, in the tradition of the best (or worst as you may see it) reality TV programming tradition ever. Without giving it all away, the ad unabashedly tugs at the heart strings of immigrants like myself, tracing the journey home and how it feels to surprise your parents with a sudden visit.

The ad film, I warn you is unabashedly sentimental.  It capitalizes on the surprise element, and plays on the age old mother-son relationship drama, yet I confess it pulled at my heartstrings and brought tears to my eyes.

It was simply the genuine reaction of the mother that got me.  I and many others like me who have made a home away from home in another country, will see our own mum’s in her. The nice thing is it is not a 30 second commercial. It is a five minute situation film, and it takes the time to set up the characters, and even though you know where it is heading, when the climax breaks, the unstaged reactions captured on screen are what make it. (I will leave you to watch and judge for yourself.) 

In real life, my husband made a similar surprise visit, this last year for his parent’s fiftieth wedding anniversary, and to mark the release of his book. He flew from London to Calcutta with the first copy of the book in his hands to surprise them. His mum was so totally bowled over that her child could be such a good son, that she burst into tears and did not stop sobbing for a good half hour.  I have also made surprise visits, though not on such joyous occasions, when a favourite aunty passed away. I was in Moscow on work, and cutting short everything, did a round trip Moscow-London-Mumbai-London in just three days. The cost didn’t matter nor the inconvenience. It was about being there for closure.

Finally BA allows you to look beyond its aging fleet, its matronly (sometimes brisk but always efficient) stewardesses, its overcrowded economy class travel seat which has become an annual hallmark of sorts to mark the December trip back home.

By humanising its air miles to heart miles and putting an emotional spin on the moments spent alone up in the air on the annual visit home, which is the only face-to-face meeting I often have with my family in the 365 days of the year, BA eventually did get to the heart of the matter and it works!

What do you think? Do you have similar instances when you surprised the folks back home with a sudden visit? Do write in and tell me.
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