First Flight

First Flight

Joe Dowd received the BA Magic treatment for the trip of a lifetime

Four years ago, Joe Dowd, 47, suffered a life-changing brain injury which left him with significant physical and cognitive challenges.  

“One day everything was fine, and the next day Joe suffered a severe bleed on his brain from an aneurism that ruptured,” says Joe’s wife Liz. “Just like that our life changed. I was told that Joe wouldn’t survive. It was a terrifying time.”

Joe had four operations on his brain, but thankfully he defied the medics and survived. Three years later, after he had endured months of intense rehabilitation work, Joe and Liz decided to book their first break to Dublin, where they have family.
“Joe had worked so hard, so, so hard at his recovery and I just thought if we could make this special for him, he deserves it,” Liz says. “I heard about the BA Magic campaign and I just thought wow, so I got in contact.”
The campaign is run by British Airways to help customers who have booked a milestone trip to make it a little bit more magical.
After Liz got in touch with the airline to tell them Joe’s story and to ask for support with the flight, British Airways stepped in to make the journey as memorable as possible.

When the date of their trip came, Joe and Liz were surprised by a British Airways ambassador at their Brentford home. They were whisked off to Heathrow in a Rolls Royce Phantom, and shown a montage of well-wishes from supportive family and friends.

When Joe was young he dreamt of being a pilot, so after boarding the plane he was met by Captain Ben Collins for a tour of the flight deck, before being invited for a day at British Airways flight simulator with his sporting hero, cyclist Chris Froome. 

Liz said, “When I wrote to British Airways telling them Joe’s story, I never imagined they would help make the journey so special. It was such an incredible and emotional milestone, Joe’s specialist team feel that he has returned even stronger. The whole experience was truly memorable and magical.”

That wasn’t the end. Joe and Liz had previously lived in Australia, and Joe’s ultimate goal is to fly back to visit one day. The airline surprised the couple with complimentary Club World (business class) tickets to Sydney, an incentive for Joe to step from one of British Airways’ nearest destinations to the furthest.

“It was an amazing experience from start to finish, a day I’ll never forget. Liz had said to me don’t give up on your dream of flying and I never had, and it was the most incredible experience,” said Joe. “Since going home, I’ve been itching to fly again. The rest of my life is the best of my life.”

For more information, to watch Joe’s video and to share your own story visit

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