Employer profile: British Airways, one of the UK's largest airlines
What it’s like to work at one of the UK's largest airlines
This guide is taken from the Know How Library, a tool on the Unifrog platform. Not sure whether to take the ACT or the SAT? Or how to give the perfect Oxbridge practice interview? The Know How Library is an easily searchable library of 100s of expert guides for both students and teachers, covering every aspect of the progression process. It is included as standard for Unifrog partner schools.
Airlines help to fly passengers and goods all around the world, but what is it like to work for one? In this guide, you’ll learn all about working at British Airways, what apprenticeship opportunities are available, and how to apply.
Originally founded in 1919 as Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited (AT&T)
Headquarters at London Heathrow airport but BA flies to over 70 countries around the world!
People who are interested in aviation and working as part of a team
People that prefer to work independently
Samantha McGrane, who is an Emerging Talent Partner at British Airways, tells us what it’s really like to work for the company.
What does British Airways do?
We are Britain’s flag carrier airline which means that we fly passengers on commercial flights and transport goods as cargo. We’re the largest UK airline and we transport over 40 million customers every year all around the world!
Where is British Airways based?
Our head office is located at London Heathrow Airport which is home to over 1,000 colleagues, and it’s open 24 hours a day, 365 days per year! This is an open plan glass building which has been designed to look like a countryside park with lots of park benches and trees inside!
Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport is used exclusively for British Airways and so this is the main place where we help our customers board their flights. Our engineers are also based at Heathrow airport where they perform maintenance on our aircraft in the BA hangars.
Our offices in Manchester and Newcastle are home to our customer service, social media, and emails and telephone communications teams, while our bases in Glasgow and Wales are where our engineers do more extensive maintenance of our aircraft.
What is British Airways’ work environment like?
Our work environment is fast-paced and addictive! It’s a huge operation to get a flight into the sky, so lots of teams have to work together to make it happen.
As we are a 24/7 operation, a lot of our colleagues work different shifts. This means you could be up at 4am or finishing at 10pm.
How does British Airways meet the needs of employees with additional requirements?
British Airways is part of the government’s Disability Confident Scheme and we have partnered with the Business Disability Forum (BDF): a not-for-profit organisation that works with disabled people and businesses to create a disability-smart workplace. Working with BDF helps us to access information, advice, and support on all issues related to employing, retaining, and developing staff with disabilities.
Who wouldn’t be the right fit for British Airways?
People that like to work independently might not be the right fit for us as it takes a lot of teamwork to make sure our planes can take off and land safely and on time!
What are some of the most common roles at British Airways?
Common roles at British Airways include cabin crew, pilots, engineers, baggage handlers, and customer service advisers.
How can someone join British Airways at entry level?
We have apprenticeship schemes across the business in areas like engineering, ground operations, customer service, data science, and finance.
We also have graduate schemes which can be one to three years in length, and these are available in data analytics, finance, future leaders, logistics, business, commercial business, and engineering.
You can also apply directly to us to become a member of our cabin crew or customer service team.
What are the entry requirements for these roles?
For the majority of our apprenticeships we don’t require you to have GCSEs as we can support you in studying towards these through your apprenticeship programme.
For our direct entry roles such as cabin crew and customer service roles, the entry requirements are also minimal but it’s best to check our website for up-to-date information.
For our graduate schemes, you’ll need a minimum of 2:2 degree and for most of our schemes, this degree could be in any field.
What skills does British Airways look for in applicants?
We look for seven main skills: motivation and enthusiasm, leadership potential, commercial awareness, confidence to challenge, drive to succeed, effective communication, and teamwork.
We look for these during different stages of the recruitment process. In the initial online application, you’re invited to complete a few online tests that simulate the role that you’re applying for at BA, and whether you’d be a good fit.
At our video interview and assessment centre stages, candidates take part in group discussions and work-related activities and this is a great opportunity to share examples of where you have previously demonstrated these competencies.
What is one top tip to help an entry level applicant succeed at British Airways?
We want to see candidates that are eager to learn and grow. You can show this by signing up to Speedbird-Z which has learning modules about British Airways and Aviation.
What work experience or internship opportunities are there at British Airways?
We offer a three-day work experience which is a blend of virtual sessions and in-person insight days. The three areas students can gain a glimpse into are: engineering, airport operations, and business.
We also offer a Future Leaders internship which is a 10-week summer programme that gives candidates a taste of what our Future Leaders Graduate Programme is like.
What opportunities are there for progression at British Airways?
In many teams there’s a structured career path to follow if you demonstrate ability and ambition. In other teams there’s flexibility to progress your career in different directions depending on your interests and strengths.
Good stuff from elsewhere
British Airways apprenticeships Find out more about British Airways' apprenticeship opportunities