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British Airways Brings Back Hot Meals On Long Haul & Ends Partnership With M&S

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As of 25 October, British Airways is once again serving hot meals across all cabins on select long-haul flights and, according to one UK newspaper, the airline has decided to sever its relationship with Marks & Spencer and enter into an agreement with “another great British brand” who will supply the airline’s buy-on-board Economy Class menus.

Hot Meals Are Back For Long-Haul

Along with a lot of other commercial airlines, British Airways significantly downsized its inflight food and beverage offerings as soon as it could use the Coronavirus pandemic as an excuse for the cutbacks. Unlike a lot of the other airlines, British Airways had, until this weekend, kept most of these cutbacks in place despite seeing a gradual increase in the demand for travel.

Now, according to what appears to be internal information shared with the Inflight with James Facebook page, British Airways has resumed hot meal services on select long-haul routes.

Per the information seen, this is what has been introduced:

Club World

  • Primary service now includes a hot meal which will be served on a meal tray with tablecloth for an interim period.
  • Secondary meal service has been replaced with a chilled snack service and will be served on a meal tray with tablecloth.
  • On 77M for returned catered flights (only), the secondary service will continue to be loaded in a box, due to space availability.
a collage of food in a tray
Click to enlarge

World Traveller (Economy) & World Traveler Plus (Premium Economy)

  • Primary meal service now includes a hot meal which is to be served on a lined half-size meal tray for an interim period.
  • Secondary meal service has been replaced with a chilled snack service to be served in caterer provided box/bag packaging.
a collage of food and drinks
Click to enlarge

The changes outlined above have been introduced from 25 October for flights departing London and the US, and from 26 October for flights departing “Far East, Asia and Caribbean”.

The internal document also confirms that there are no changes being made to the current long-haul First Class offering or the current offerings on the airline’s short-haul routes.

Marks & Spencer To Be Replaced

Marks & Spencer is a higher-end UK retailer that has been BA’s short-haul catering partner (of sorts) since the airline introduced buy-on-board menus back in 2016. Now, with the agreement due for renewal this year, the Sun newspaper has reported that British Airways is parting ways with M&S in favor of a new partnership with an as-yet-unnamed “great British brand”.

The Sun claims that the two brands in the running to headline BA’s short-haul menu are Waitrose and Greggs, but with Waitrose being perceived as a high-end grocery store and Greggs being perceived as a considerably cheaper pastry-centric food outlet, it’s hard to see how both can be competing for the same contract.

Waitrose would be a logical replacement for M&S if British Airways wants to be able to keep claiming that its buy-on-board offering is of a high caliber (whether it is or not is another matter) and that it still offers a higher-end product than its low-cost competitors. Greggs would be a more logical replacement for M&S if the airline has finally decided to abandon any pretense that its Economy Class short-haul offering is in any way better than what’s offered by easyJet or Ryanair.

This will be an interesting development to watch as it may give us an indication as to the direction in which BA’s new CEO wishes to take the airline.

Bottom Line

British Airways has brought back hot meals to its Business Class, Premium Economy, and Economy Class long-haul cabins but the end result still leaves the airline’s offering well short of what a lot of its competitors are now offering, and well short of what it was offering at the beginning of the year.

In a further catering change, British Airways appears to have decided to end its agreement with Marks and Spencer and is looking for a new partner to headline its short-haul buy-on-board menu. With just a little over two months left of this year, we should be finding out who the replacement brand will be very soon.

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  1. Waitrose could make interesting sense in line with potential changes around earning Avios with Waitrose/John Lewis in the post-Tesco Clubcard era.

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