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The rumors have been doing the rounds for a few weeks now but finally, today, British Airways has announced that it will be charging for all food and drink in the Economy Class cabin on its short-haul flights. The airline has confirmed that the change will be brought in at the beginning of next year and that the food will be catered by Marks & Spencer.
The new buy-on-board food options will debut on Heathrow and Gatwick short-haul and domestic flights from 11 January 2017 and from London City Airport and Stansted from “summer 2017”.
These are the bullet points British Airways has supplied to justify this move:
- Two great British brands partner to provide Food on the Move for short-haul fliers
- Airline is acting on feedback and giving customers the choice and quality they’ve asked for.
- Options selected are M&S customer favourites chosen for their flavour at altitude
- Everything on the food menu priced at under £5 – ranging from just £1 to £4.95 and customers can pay with Avios
- Menu choices include vegetarian, gluten free and healthy fresh options plus snacks and comfort foods
- Bespoke menu options and seasonal changes to be introduced throughout the year
- First airline to offer leading brand sandwiches, all of which are fortified with added fibre and vitamin D
According to BA:
The collaboration follows extensive customer research and feedback, which highlighted dissatisfaction with the airline’s current short-haul economy catering, and found fliers want more choices that reflect what they would normally select when out and about.
Right, so rather than bringing their own food on to the aircraft and still having the option of free food from British Airways, customers just want to pay BA for whatever limited selection they provide onboard? Why do I have trouble believing that?
What Will British Airways Offer & How Much Will It Cost?
- Greek style natural yogurt with summer berry compote and granola – £1.95
- Classic fruit salad with pineapple, melon, mango, apple, kiwi and blueberries – £3.10
- M&S Café bacon roll with pork from British farmers – £4.75)
- Tomato and mozzarella focaccia – £4.75
Other times of the day:
- Aberdeen Angus beef and red onion chutney bloomer – £4.75
- Classic cheese ploughman’s with nine-month aged farmhouse mature cheddar and vine ripened tomatoes, pickle and mixed salad – £3.00
- “Balanced for You” spiced chicken with quinoa and rice salad – £4.95
Available on all flights:
- A nut assortment of almonds, brazil, cashew and hazelnuts – £1.60
- Wasabi peas – £1.60
- Salted cashews – £1.60
- Oriental snack mix – £2.00
- Super fruit, nut and seed flapjacks £1.45
- Salt & vinegar and lightly salted hand-cut crisps – both £1.00
- A made without wheat salted caramel hazelnut millionaire bar – £1.45
- A grab-bag sized milk chocolate covered popping popcorn and pretzels – £2.45
- Packs of mini oat biscuits – £1.10
- Swiss milk chocolate mountain bars – £1.70
- Percy Pigs – £1.80
- ‘The Whippy One’ -£1
The airline will also offer customers a full bar service with soft drinks priced from £1.50 and alcoholic drinks from £4.
British Airways says that elements of the menu will change on a quarterly basis to reflect the seasons.
Payment will be quick and easy via debit or credit card, including contactless transactions. Customers will also be able to pay with Avios via the BA app or with their Executive Club card
What the airline doesn’t say is how many Avios will be required to buy £1.00 of food/drink.
InsideFlyer had a heads-up on all of this from British Airways and, from what they’ve seen, it looks like British Airways is valuing 1 Avios at around £0.008…which isn’t bad and which, coincidentally, is what you can get Avios for at TopCashback UK right now.
More Information That’s Not In The BA Press Release
InsideFlyer has shared some more information that BA hasn’t felt the need to make public – the airline will even be charging for water!
Here are the drink prices that InsideFlyer has seen:
- Water (£1.80) (225 Avios)
- Tea/coffee (£2.30) (300 Avios)
- Gin & Tonic (£6) (750 Avios)
- Small bottle of wine (£4.50) (575 Avios)
Isn’t it funny how, when airlines remove something from their offering, they’re always “acting on feedback and giving customers the choice and quality they’ve asked for“.
Haven’t customers been feeding back to BA that their Cub World seats are horribly out of date and have been so for the best part of a decade? How come that feedback hasn’t resulted in any moves from British Airways? It’s a puzzler.
I’ve head some BA loyalists argue that this move from the airline is a good thing because they didn’t like the food that BA served onboard before….and that’s a staggeringly nonsensical argument.
If you didn’t like what BA served on board (for free!) then you always had the option to bring your own food with you or eating before hand – there was nothing stopping you.
All that BA is doing now is getting passengers to pay them rather than a food retailer and giving passengers a much smaller selection to choose from….and if you think that the poor souls at the back of the aircraft are going to have any kind of selection at all then you’re delusional.
The airline is even charging for water!
Doug Parker over at American Airlines tried this when he was only the boss at US Airways and that didn’t go down too well…it will be interesting to see how BA flyers react.
Overall this news isn’t exactly a surprise as it’s been muted for quite some time and it now brings BA nicely in line with Iberia (it’s sister airline) and, more worryingly, with the likes of easyJet and Ryanair.
But all of this does leave me wondering what ever happened to “the world’s favourite airline”?