British Airways Is Improving Its Economy Class Food Offering….Sort Of….

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I have no idea what’s going on at British Airways nowadays as I’m starting to struggle to keep up with the direction the airline is attempting to go. One minute the airline is cutting the services it offers to passengers and then, the next minute, it acts like it had changed its mind (although it’s certainly not framing its latest move as a change of mind).

Yesterday British Airways announced “a multi-million pound investment in its World Traveller (long-haul economy cabin) catering” which, to anyone following what the airline has been doing, is quite amusing.

It’s amusing because this is the airline that, as recently as 2016, was making significant cuts to the services it is now boasting that it will be improving.

Back in November Alex Cruz (BA’s CEO) told an investors’ briefing that the airline would be bringing back the second meal on long-haul flights (a reversal of the decision to cut the meal in 2016) and now we’re told that BA will be “introducing an exciting and expanded new menu, which provides more quantity and quality to both meals and great snacking options throughout the flight“.

The new offerings will appear from 17 January 2018 and will include:

  • Pretzels with the welcome drink
  • Four-course meal with starter, main, dessert, cheese and biscuits, accompanied by a bread roll and bottle of water
  • Second meal or substantial snack depending on the length of the flight
  • Regional meal options served according to destination
  • Magnum ice-creams
  • Tuck box with chocolates and crisps
  • Hot breakfast on longer overnight flights
  • Graze movie-snack box on longer flights
  • Complimentary drinks from the bar

According to BA:

Our new four-course main meal has been developed by our team of chefs to be full of flavour at 35,000ft and we’ve created regional options depending on the route. The second meal option is either a tasty sandwich or a more substantial pizza wrap, both served with additional snacks, depending on the length of the flight

Our customers have also told us they want to be able to save some items for later in the flight, so we’ve replaced the water cup with a bottle of Highland Spring on the first meal, and added Graze snack boxes on our longest flights. We’re also offering Magnum ice-creams on daylight flights from London and a Tuck Box on inbound and overnight flights.

The airline has offered up an example menu which looks like this:

  • Starter – couscous salad
  • Main – chicken casserole with an ale sauce, colcannon mash and seasonal vegetables, or a vegetarian tomato, farfalle and vegetable dish
  • Dessert – a Pots & Co salted caramel and chocolate mousse
  • Cheese and biscuits (crackers)

The meal will also come with a bread roll, butter and a bottle of spring water.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t really have too much to say about this menu but, after having recently flown British Airways long-haul Economy Class, something immediately leaps out at me.

If all of this is a new initiative which we’ll only see from 17 January how come I can publish the following photos of the main meal I had back in December?……

Couscous salad (starter):

a bowl of food on a table

Chicken casserole in an ale sauce (main course):

a tray of chicken casserole and a bowl of food

Pots & Co salted caramel and chocolate mousse (dessert):

a small blue box on a white plate

And here is everything on one tray:

a table with food and a bowl of food on it

Sure, the bottled water and cheese and biscuits were missing but, essentially, what I was served on my flight to LA is the menu BA are promoting as part of the new investment in Economy Class catering.

Here’s the image BA supplied to illustrate an example of a new meal:

a tray of food on a tableImage courtesy of British Airways

That’s very similar (although not identical) to what I was served.

Did I just get the upgraded Economy Class food early or is BA announcing things they’re already doing?

BA also announced the following:

On the shorter daylight long-haul flights to destinations such as New York and Dubai, fliers will also receive a sandwich such as egg and cress with a chocolate or Nutri-Grain bar. Those on longer daylight flights to destinations such as Cape Town and Hong Kong will receive a hot meal, such as a pizza wrap or a regional option, with a pot of pasta, a chocolate brownie and a drink as well as a smokehouse BBQ crunch Graze movie-snack box. A hot English breakfast will also be served on these longer flights that operate overnight.

Customers on daylight flights from London will be offered a range of Magnum ice-creams, while those on night flights will be offered a tuck-box with options such as Dairy Milk Buttons, Twix, Kit-Kats and Mini Cheddars, which will also be available in the galley for them to help themselves to.

Some of this is new but other bits are already being offered. On the daytime flight to LA we didn’t get the Magnum ice creams but we did get a “movie-snack box”:

a box of candy bars and snacks

And we also got a second meal consisting of something similar to a pizza wrap (it was a folded pizza)

a food on a tray

Lastly British Airways elaborates on what it means by “regional options”:

The airline is also serving regional main meal options around its network, such as chicken in spicy cheng du sauce on flights to and from to China, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea, kathrikai milagu seeragam and channa dal on flights to and from Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai and acchari veg and dal palak on flights to and from Bangalore and Delhi. On flights to the Middle East (Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia,) customers can enjoy chicken in spicy Arabic sauce.

Regional breakfasts will also be served including Chicken Congee for Far Eastern routes and an Indian option featuring: Idli Shanna, Sambhar, upma and dosa.

I haven’t flown BA to Asia recently (why would I when Qatar Airways is better and cheaper?) so I can’t say how much of this is new and how much of it is already offered….but I will concede that it does sound good.

In Summary

Of the things that BA has announced I know for a fact that the following are already something the airline offers:

  • Second meal or substantial snack depending on the length of the flight
  • Tuck box with chocolates and crisps
  • Hot breakfast on longer overnight flights
  • Graze movie-snack box on longer flights
  • Complimentary drinks from the bar

I also know that the airline’s example “new” 4 course menu is almost identical to what I was offered on my London – LA flight back in December and the second meal that BA talks about in its press release isn’t a million miles away from what I was served either…….so there’s an element of smoke and mirrors going on here.

Yes, there are certainly some new things being introduced in Economy Class catering and that’s very good news indeed….but the scale of what is being introduced doesn’t appear to be anywhere near the size that BA is claiming it is….and that’s a shame.


  1. BA remain overpriced, under delivered… when they clean their cabins, offer reliable entertainment and some form of effective customer service on the ground perhaps worth reconsidering IF they also compete on price (inc the hidden extras for seating choice, baggage, etc) then it may be worth considering but for now I’ll continue to recommend #flyABBA

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