British Airways to charge £15-£18 for ‘enhanced’ World Traveller meals

Two weeks ago, a Head for Points reader sent me an odd market research survey he had received.  It wanted volunteers who were planning to fly certain BA long-haul routes this Summer because “BA are trialling a new service on a select number of routes … if you are flying on one of these routes, we (sic) may have the opportunity to take part in a special task with a cash incentive as a thank you.”

At the time I didn’t know what it was about.  Now I do.

From May 12th, British Airways is launching ‘paid for’ food in World Traveller on selected routes.  The standard meal will still be available if you want it.  However, you have the opportunity to pay up to £18 for an upgraded meal to replace your existing one.  These must be pre-ordered online.

The first wave will cover just Atlanta, Austin, Denver, Dallas-Fort Worth, Baltimore / Washington, Mexico City, Seattle and Phoenix.  My understanding is that the second wave is likely to include New York, Newark, Boston, Calgary, Chicago, Houston, Johannesburg, Miami, Montreal, Newark and Philadelphia.  In any event, they will only be offered on outbound flights initially.

It is not clear what quality of meal will be delivered for £15-£18.  If we look (again) at the last Club World main course I ate:

British Airways Club World main course

…. I doubt you would be able to convince many people that it was worth £15-£18 – although the fee covers three courses.

I’m not sure what you get these days on a long flight like Johannesburg in World Traveller but the difference between the existing meal and what I picture above cannot be huge.  After all, the BA website says that World Traveller serves “a delicious assortment of fine foods designed by world renowned chefs to keep your taste buds entertained throughout the flight”.

There will be five meals to choose from:

Gourmet Dining (prawn starter, beef main, chocolate ganache bar)

Taste of Britain (smoked salmon, pork belly, Summer berry pudding)

Great British Breakfast (bread [I kid you not], full English breakfast, cherry compote)

Healthy Choice (rice rolls, cod, Greek yoghurt / honey mouse / grapefruit carpaccio)

Vegetarian (goats cheese salad, polenta, lemon meringue)

This is not necessarily a bad idea.  Anything that offers passengers more choice is clearly OK.  My initial concern – apart from customers rejecting their £18 meal because it looks like the one above – is that they are poor value for money, especially as BA is saving themselves the cost of your standard meal.

The food will not be of Club World standard because it will be served on one tray and handed over in one go, rather than plated course by course.  The courses must also fit on the tray so you are presumably not going to get much more food than usual by volume.  I await the first photographs …..

If you are travelling on any of the routes listed above from May 12th, you will be able to pay for your enhanced meal online from April 23rd.

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Comments

  1. At least it will guarantee you get your first choice!

  2. “The first wave will cover just Atlanta, Austin, Denver, Dallas-Fort Worth, Baltimore / Washington, Mexico City, Seattle and Phoenix. My understanding is that the second wave is likely to include New York, Newark, Austin, Boston, Calgary, Chicago, Houston, Johannesburg, Miami, Montreal, Newark and Philadelphia.”

    Not sure how it could happen but Austin’s done particularly well to be in both the first and second wave!

  3. gnarlyoldgoatdude says:

    Do you get Avios for your £15-18 outlay?

  4. how is this possible. with these prices they ask for money to give some normal food!! each time Ba is getting to get more money and money. invest in the product than you will get your plains full with happy customers. but now each time it is less and less . even i was flying first and no taste. not feel even that you are gold member and flying first!!!. when will Ba learn because less and less

  5. vindaloo says:

    Presumably the enhanced meal will still be worse (at least in BA’s view) than the standard WT+ one, since otherwise you’d expect WT+ passengers to be offered the same option. It would be perverse if the best meal available in WT were better than the best available in WT+.

  6. Sounds like BA are completely diluting their premium/ all inclusive positioning with all the recent changes. As they start to get confused about what they stand for they will lose love, market share and service as they erode internal and external clarity on what they stand for.

  7. flyforfun says:

    KLM have been doing this for some time : https://www.klm.com/travel/gb_en/prepare_for_travel/on_board/dining_on_board/alacarte_menu.htm

    And cheaper too at €12 or 4200 miles

    For the price BA is charging, it has to be a lot more exciting than what they are currently offering.

    • Similar to the BA pilot they are only available ex AMS.

      Out of LHR it is relatively easy to self cater in the terminal (at better prices than for the enhanced meals). From some outstations a better meal may be more in demand (although the outstations with bad catering would also make bad upgraded meals).

  8. Disappointed of “Bristol”

    BA seems not to be on a slippery slope (Stu R post today) but a straight, non slalom, downhill run. Most of the past few months services and contact I have had with BA have been poor, and. very sad to experience. Next stop the losses of Tesco announced today? Customers simply taken for granted, Avios benefits pared, additional costs introduced here there and everywhere, compounded by shutting members out of their systems for weeks on end, unable to rectify IT faults.

    It is certainly not the airline it was, and by the look of it, it is just not trying to be.

  9. Even more reason to eat properly before the flight…….

    Many have also been grumbling about not getting refunds on seat assignments that are not as advertised…. Ie booking exit row but it not being the exit….. So I bet it will be a struggle to get a refund if the food is not up to scratch…… This has customer service complaints all over it IMHO.

  10. Lady London says:

    More ryanair-isation.

    If you want to see how it’s done, take a look at the Austrian Airlines offering they’ve fixed up with Do & Co. As soon as it was announced I resolved to book and pay for it anytime I’m flying out of Vienna without question. D & Co are pretty respectable offering, tasty, interesting and good value.

    I’ll even get a sandwich at Starbucks or Boots in preference to this. Plane Food was already my alternative when they were doing mega-slop in the lounge for breakfast. So I guess I’ll be picking up the pack there then.

  11. RIcatti says:

    I simply find myself not eating on the plane, especially when in Economy. Because of that I have to carry some snacks. Want to underline that we are pushed into this.

  12. James67 says:

    A little OT but BA: I understood that all the new rules applied to tickets purchased from 28/4 but I guess I was wrong or something has changed. I just booked WTP UuA to CW ow BKK-LHR and I got the text below stating that any changes to this ticket will be subject to the new rules in that more (or to be fair also less) avios may be required. A couple of other things that may be of interest to some. BA released 3 CW seats between BKk and LHR today for 11 April 16, and based on recent practice I expect they will release 3 more tomorrow for 12th. There was also availability when I checked for the 30th March so could work for somebody looking for about a fortnight before redemptions go up.The second thing of interest was that I am seeing BA ow WTP fares from Asia to UK becoming much more competitively priced making UuA more attractive. My UuA fare was £704.90,; I know it is rubbish in comparison to the recent QR J fares ex Europe for example but still a marked improvment compared to what BA were once charging. For me it was worth it given direct flight and flexibility to change. I have also found that the cost of changing flights that begin in Asia are generally much less than the cost of changing flights beginning in Europe. I may be wrong but I think the reason for that ix that some countries regulate on what airlines charge for changes or cancellation. It is always worth bearing in mind and checking out if flexibility is important when making travel plans.

    Text from BA ticket about changes:

    From 00:00 British Summer Time (GMT +1) on 28 April 2015 the following conditions will apply;

    British Airways, Iberia, their franchises and subsidiaries

    You can change from a peak date to another peak date and from an off-peak date to another off-peak date using Manage My Booking.
    When you change from a peak to an off-peak date using Manage My Booking, you will be refunded the difference in Avios within 10 days. For an immediate refund, please make the change via your local Service Centre.
    You can change a flight from an off-peak date to a peak date by calling your local Service Centre. You will need to pay any additional Avios for a peak date, plus any service fees.
    Other partner airlines

    When you choose a flight operated by one of our partner airlines, you can change your flights to another date and time, subject to availability. Partner airlines do not offer off-peak rates.

    Prices are charged differently for flights with two or more oneworld partners, or British Airways plus two or more oneworld partners.You can find out prices for your journey using our table.

    You may need to pay any difference in the Avios fare, any taxes, fees and charges, plus service fees, if applicable.

    • Hi James,

      We are also on Asia and the HKG routes a lot, on our 241 s each year. And we have had to change an odd time. This shows that we mustn’t rush into buying before 28th as we are then caught in the new pricing bracket. Def looking at another one for March 16. I understood, we could just make the change like for like also, but this may not be the case. I have read the t and c in detail,,and only now saw this statement when we were buying our HKG tkts yesterday. Worrying . Was your UuA a one way tkt?

  13. James67 says:

    Hi Polly, yes it was a one way flight. Since posting original comment I checked another reservation I made after devaluation was announced. It does not have these notes about changes after 28th. Until today I was under impression that rules only applied to flights ticketed from 28th but to be honest I have read so much about changes I cannot be sure whether I got that impression from BA xirectly or from third party reporting. It is bad form from BA though if they are moving the goal posts. I need flexi ility which is why I passed on the super deals from QR. I always check terms for changes and cancelations.