British Airways introducing buy on board by the back door!

Regular readers will have seen my various articles recently on the major cuts to British Airways in-flight service, eg here and here and here.

Long-haul travellers in World Traveller (economy) have born the brunt.    We have seen the loss of pretzels, removal of cheese and biscuits, removal of the ‘tuck box’ and – on longer flights – the complete removal of the second meal, to be replaced by a fun-size Mars Bar.  Seriously.

Now we have the next move.

From 23rd August, Pringles, M&Ms and Maltesers will be available to purchase on all long haul flights.

This was reported on Flyertalk by a BA cabin crew member, who I have met and trust, and has been confirmed by BA on Twitter.

M&M World

There are a few exceptions – anyone know why Russia or Iran would have a problem with M&Ms?  (EDIT: see the comments, someone does know!)  The mid-haul routes served by the ex-BMI A321 aircraft are also excluded.

Technically, this is not ‘buy on board’ catering.  This is because they are being sold from the duty free trolley, although an announcement will be made in the cabin that they are on the trolley and available for purchase.

I very much doubt, however, that they will be sold at a ‘tax free’ price, ie 16.7% cheaper than the UK retail price.  I would bet on twice the price of your local Tesco Express.  Do let me know if you find yourself down the back after 23rd August ……

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  1. Virgin has had these for years – – although I never heard them announced or saw anyone buy one!

  2. Russia does not have a problem with M&Ms it is a distribution legal problem. The rights to distribute M&M in Russia is sold to a retail network Magnit who hold all rights to sell M&M in Russia including to other retailers. BA does not get their M&M stock from Magnit thus can not sell it in Russian airspace(Flights). Iran on the other hand I dont know.

  3. Just had a little chuckle.
    “Do let me know if you find yourself down the back after 23rd August ……”
    Because Raffles certainly won’t be down the back.

    • I will be down the back too…I forgot how BA economy product was…alt brought fingers crossed for a BA GC upgrade….

      Will let you know…

    • On BA down the very back might now be the safest and best place to be, hopefully they will have run out of food and snacks before they get there, and watching the ever deteriorating service in the cabin ahead is probably much more amusing IFE than their AVOD.

      • “…watching the ever deteriorating service in the cabin ahead is probably much more amusing IFE than their AVOD.”


        But the choices M&Ms and Pringles are absolutely unhealthy. HM Government shall impose a sweets duty on them together with the sugary drinks!

    • That what she said!

    • The “down the back” comment has me confused. There is no suggestion that BoB is going to be restricted to WT. I’m in F next week, and I’ll be asking for some m&ms just to see what happens. (I have no intention of embarrassing the crew, who once again are the ones who will have to deal with this latest “enhancement”).

      At least we know why BA has been running down the options in the CW kitchen now- they want to sell the same stuff to passengers paying premium ticket prices instead.

  4. I’ll be down the back (but upstairs) London-bound on 23rd. Price list coming your way!

  5. Because what BA’s woeful cleaning standards really needs is to deal with melted Maltesers and crushed M&Ms.

    Also it’s British Airways dammit – should be Smarties not M&Ms.

    • Smarties are made in Germany by Nestle.

    • It’s the cleanliness of BA aircraft that has really disturbed me over the past couple of yeats, many aircraft I have been on are shockingly dirty even in premium cabins. I think it’s the penny-pinching we have largely missed.

      • Bariummeal says:

        I second this – what really annoys me is the dirt. Masses of crisps etc on the floor between the club seats and the window etc. If the airlines were car brands – Singapore is a Mercedes, Emirates is BMW, Etihad is Audi, BA is Vauxhall.

        • Are you sure it’s not Skoda? In the sense that it is in the process of reinventing itself and has some way to go. But good under the bonnet.

          • Lady London says:

            In that case it would be a Dacia.

            Owned by a company just to the lower half of medium segment, lowering the cost base as in buying in cheap (“ambient”) items, appealing to customers who are looking at a lower value but still sound offering but at a lower price.

        • Lady London says:

          What’s Qatar?

          • Erico1875 says:

            The king with no clothes on.
            OK. Their bus class is fine but economy? Give me BA everytime

  6. You could at least acknowledge Flyertalk as your source when you shamelessly steal content for your articles.

    • FT And PTS have been the main source of content for years. The only time Raffles comes up with original content is when reviewing/promoting the freebies he gets.

      For a very gloaty view, check out Raffles’ interview at

      “It is basically lots of tiny sums which adds up a decent sum. There is advertising, of course, plus affiliate deals and referral credits for introducing readers to certain companies. Even small things like a link to add up when you have a run-rate of 10 million page views per year.”

      • Fair point, added in. There should have been a hat-tip to FT originally. I do know the crew member who posted that. I am working on holiday at the moment though so things are a bit more rushed than usual.

        You forgot to quote this paragraph by the way:

        “The downside is that, as a 24/7 site, it never goes away. I find myself answering reader comments on Christmas Day. On holiday, I need to spend 1-2 hours per day replying to comments and emails and reworking what I have prepared for the following day.”

        or this one:

        “I do everything myself, but I am starting to feel the strain. For every hour I spend writing articles (I publish three per day, seven days a week) I spend 2-3 hours dealing with [other stuff]”

        I think most people who read this site understand that its value, if any, is in the curatorial element – separating the wheat from the chaff that is out there and then presenting it in an easy to follow format with some intelligent analysis.

        I also think most people who read this site understand that I shouldn’t work for 50 hours per week (and I am typing this in my holiday hotel) for free. Anika is also pretty much full-time at the moment as she is attending a lot of events for me on top of the reviews and Shopper Points.

        The joy of free enterprise of course is that, if you think you can do it better, you are welcome to try :-)

        • Kudos for such a measured and reasonable response to envy. Normally the “anyone could do what you did” crowd are walking disproofs of their own theorem.

        • You do a great job Rob and have been mindful of acknowledging sources from day one. Don’t lose any sleep over those who only see the tip of the iceberg or cannot see the wood for the trees. I believe the vast majority of us HFP readers do recognise and appreciate the amount of effort you have to invest in this, and we don’t really care about the sources, appreciating instead your efforts to highlight, prioritize and explain relevance of key stories within a UK context. Before HFP it took me hours to find what I wanted on FT and elsewhere. Now I am satisfied to follow just HFP and one other blog to get all the information I need.

          • Out of interest, what’s the other blog you follow, if you’re happy to share?

            • Personally, I find LoyaltyLobby a good source of info about offers, especially hotel-related. The standard of writing, however, is absolutely dreadful and there is no analysis to speak of, whereas HfP does a great job of looking into the pros and cons of various issues.

              I find that HfP and LL are enough for me. There are lots of offers on LL that don’t make it onto here – for instance, a recent Accor offer of 1000 points for any UK stay, which I got on a Happy Mondays deal – so that’s 20 euros back on a stay that only cost me £40 anyway! Since Rob tends to ignore a lot of Accor stuff, that’s the kind of thing that makes me follow LL. But there is plenty of chaff on there, too, whereas HfP is all wheat! :))

            • Madmax, Brisn just answered for me.

          • thomas bond says:

            This is why we should have a like button! Completely agree

        • Thank you Rob, for the awesome response. As someone who deal with that, I appreciate the answer.

          Definitely very valuable website, who has helped many people!

        • Fred and Jonty – thanks for your really useful input.

          Yes that is sarcasm by the way. When you start paying to subscribe HfP feel free to make those kind of comments. Otherwise you are just wasting everyone else’s time.

        • Florian LF says:

          It’s normal that you benefit a bit from your hard work!
          You have a great website full of very good info/tips!
          The guy is clearly a standard forum troll :-)

        • Thanks Raffles, enjoy your blog and keep up the great work..

          @Fred please go and start your own blog, I for one will subscribe just to see how well it goes.

        • Shot, Sir!

        • Erico1875 says:

          If it was my site I would just delete such rude comments rather than justify myself to jealous morons.
          Well done for keeping your cool.

      • MR Bridge says:

        Really> You obviously take the time to get the HFP emails the content to have read the post in the first place..Hypocrite.
        Ps there is an unsubscribe button

      • While it makes the site less relevant for me as I tend to find out before an article is published here, that’s what people want – as demonstrated by the income figures…

        While I must admit I find some of the idolising from a minority on here a bit creepy, you cannot deny Rob is good at what he does, and if that allows him to name a good income of it – at no direct charge to you – then good for him.

        • You tend to find out before an article is published here? Then you are wasting your time here and are far too much in the know.
          Best you unsubscribe so that you can stop re-reading what you already have read and know.
          Idolising from a minority creepy? Your post is creepy. There are many, many HfP subscribers that value the immense work that is put in to producing three blogs a day as well as personal responses to emails etc. No mean feat and let’s see you try it big mouth.
          Your whole post smacks of jealousy you really need to get over yourself.

      • If only you weren’t forced to read the site every day.

      • silver james says:

        there’s always a cry baby isnt there? going to tell mummy Mr Raffles being naughty?

      • PTS?

      • I don’t agree with your post, Jonty, but I did find the article interesting – thank for highlighting it, good to read a bit of the ‘behind the scenes’ at HfP!

    • Meoooww

    • grex9101 says:

      Unless it’s word-for-word, how can you even prove that content came from there?
      It’s legitimate news – should it not be reported simply because it was on another site first?

    • Don’t feed the trolls.

  7. Having just experienced First again and it’s much reduced standards I simply cannot understand why anyone pays BA real money to fly cattle class or cattle class plus. Club World is dire and First mearly adequate as a business class product.

    I hold a gold card gained via QR, CX and AA plus some BA short haul the last one resulting in a EU261 claim due to their incompetence operationally.

    Unless and until people vote with their feet and something is done to dismantle their near monopoly at Heathrow and end their commercial agreements with AA JAL and others, then noting will improve. It’s clear that only real competition will move them away from the LCC model while charging full service fares.

    • James Alexander says:

      OMG! How far is BA going to go in their race to the bottom.
      How truly embarrassing that once “the World’s favourite airline” is being managed into a no frills bus with wings transport system.
      Shareholders snd management must be laughing like hyenas!

      • In what way is it embarrassing? Or are you lamenting the fact that the lower classes now have the audacity to travel, which is largely behind the explosion of LCCs which in turn is facilitating this race to the bottom?

        • Are you serious? Please don’t try to turn this into some sort of class warfare argument.

          Ryanair doesn’t have the audacity to charge 2k GBP for a transatlantic business class seat which at this point is more reminiscent of PE both in terms of hard (personal space) and soft (catering) product. 8 across in C at a time when DL is introducing private suites in business? If that isn’t embarrassing, I don’t know what it. The only reason BA can continue on this path is its near monopoly for corporate contracts out of London and its JVs with JAL eastbound and AA westbound. (I firmly believe that all JVs should be dismantled, as they create the illusion of competition when there is none).

          • Have to tally agree with this. BA’s monopoly allows them to provide a very poor service but charge fairly high prices because of these JV’s and the amount of slots it has at Heathrow. Personally, if I have to buy flights I either buy a Virgin flight westwards or a Qatar/Cathey flight eastwards as the quality of the BA product is just ridiculous and is getting lower by the month. I do still collect Avios as a First redemption on a 241 is still worthwhile for me, however if any changes were to happen to Avios and/or BA continue down this path of stripping away all the little additions, I will also move my points earning away from them as I don’t fly First to get a poor business service.

          • Class warfare!? Give me a break…

            Ryanair would indeed have the audacity to do that if people were willing to pay it. And your argument that club world is like premium economy is so beyond absurd I’m not even going to address it…

            • I fly TA for leisure, paying for my tickets. I either fly PE on BA or Business Class on AA.

              On our last flight back from Canada, BA upgraded us from WT+ to CW. It was nice as a free upgrade, but it felt more like a very good PE than a business class product. The high density, the lack of privacy, lack of personal service, staring at a stranger during take off, the lack of storage space, not good at all.

              I would never pay to fly BA CW. It falls far below my expectations of a business class product.

            • Oh, no… please do address it. When was the last time you flew an airline other than BA in C?

              Granted, there still are a lot of mediocre C seats out there (TK, the Chinese), but the new generation seats in the market (CX, AA, DL, UA, QR, EK on the A380, Finnair, AF, KL) are leaps and bounds ahead of BA’s product which is massively outdated. Revolutionary 10 years ago, it is now so behind the curve it isn’t even funny. Relative to the competition, it is starting to look more and more like a very nice PE, the same way that BA F is now more akin to very nice C, rather than being truly competitive with actual First.

    • James Alexander says:


    • the_real_a says:

      I have no issues with degradation of service, so long as the price is reduced to reflect. A LCC flat bed seat (even high density) for a few hundred quid above economy would sit quite nicely with me.

    • BA has lost it, I fly at least 30 long hauls each year, every single one used to be BA, BAEC Gold for over 20 years, Gold for life & GGL etc but now fly almost entirely on QR, still collect the BA Tier Points BUT surprisingly BA has never even asked why I rarely fly with them.

      On the rare occasion I do fly BA I always feel it’s a very poor product next to the ME3

  8. Down down down we go

  9. MR Bridge says:

    The issue of airline food has never been resolved. I can’t say I have ever enjoyed a food service.Even First lacks flavour.
    I despair at the food thrown away, furthermore the(environmental) cost of flying all this food , and the trolleys that house them .

    technology has moved so quick, but airlines still have not caught up. It should be so simple for all pax to pre order, preventing all waste, and thus cutting costs without reducing number of meals.

    • Cupoftea says:

      It should be so simple, but believe someone that knows – it really isn’t. The very limited preordering available on BA at the moment was on the cusp of being impossible to deliver – and any extension to it would require massive change and investment.

    • czechoslovakia says:

      Best meal I have ever had was on a Swiss flight, ZRH-DUB. Clean plates all round. You could argue Swiss has a similar monopoly on the local market as BA. Difference is, Swiss genuinely care about their reputation, and still try to be an ambassador for their land. BA care about margins, and i genuinely feel that they fear for their existence with a “get-what-you-can, whilst-you-can” attitude. Certainly margin potential on M&M`s will be higher than Smarties. But seriously, what to expect from BA, when it can`t even be bothered serving it`s own land properly?

      • Serious comment here. My wife and I can’t eat smarties as they have wheat in but I can eat M&Ms. The free from section in supermarkets is also growing as demand is growing. Maybe there more to it than just money grabbing but making it more available to more people.

        Having said that, considering all my wife and I could have last year to Rome and back was crisps maybe I assume too much?

  10. Is it really the end of the world? Is this really the replacement for the second meal in Y? I thought that was the fun size Mars bar?

  11. Sorry to spoil the party or not but this kind of news doesn’t upset me that much. The food they serve in economy is generally beyond tepid and I would be happy to pay if it was half decent. If I was forced to pay for the main meal that would make my choice easier as we could just hit the terminal for something much better. Of course depends on timings and where you’re flying from.

    If this cost cutting was to deliver a better “passenger experience” I’d be all for it but don’t suppose they will be making up for it elsewhere to so not fussed either way. I think it’s sensible for the legacy carriers though.

    I’m certainly not there thinking – Hmmmmm I’m going to fly a legacy carrier because they give me some free “average” grub. The wife might say different.

    • the booze is more important, though – could even be a deal breaker

      I normally knock back 3-5 drinks going out – sorry, that’s the way it is, start of my hols, just driven 4 hrs, no driving other end, 3 fractious tikes on my hands – I can come up with the excuses but I do like to wind down on the way out – and that could easily be £20 if paid

  12. Rob, I’m not sure if you’ve covered the (latest) degradation of the Band 3 short haul economy catering yet (apologies if you have and I’ve missed it), but it would be great if you could highlight to everyone how the sandwich and cake have been replaced with a small bag of crisps or a biscuit. This is apart from between 12 and 2, which, according to BA, is the only time frame during which they were being eaten. There has been zero communication from BA about this change, which I guess is no surprise, but I really hope they receive as much negative publicity for this as they did for the changes to the long haul economy catering.

    • Yes, I had a couple of emails from very annoyed travellers last week.

      • Is it just band 3? I know that’s eg Madrid – is there a table somewhere showing Band 3? Tried googling it but not immediately obvious where the divide 3 —> 4 is in short haul

    • It’s pretty cynical and disdainful to deem a 20g packet of crisps a “snack”. In absolute terms, it’s no big deal, but in relative terms it insults pasengers whose past experience and BA “marketing” lead them to expect something more substantial on a flight that leaves before and arrives after “lunch” – such as BA474 dep LHR 1110 arr BCN 1415. If it’s a race to the bottom, BA has already won it.

      • or BA2700 LGW – FUE leaving at 11:50 landing 4h20m later.
        I am not sure even there is a proper meal on this service.
        Tried to select meal option on BA MMB but no joy!
        From BA’s website cannot figure out what I am getting.

    • Lady London says:

      Crisps or a biscuit? Why on earth are they bothering?

      It would be less embarrassing if they served nothing.

      Or got more honest and provided a quality offering that could be paid for on board – or – pre-prdered.

      The Do & Co offering on Austrian out of Vienna would be a good example for BA to follow… if they are interested in quality, that is.

  13. Pedant alert – borne is the past tense of the verb to bear –
    “Long-haul travellers in World Traveller (economy) have BORNE the brunt.”

    But I do agree there has been a lot of brunt in recent times.

    Anyway, we will get a chance to experience it first hand next week. After a year of Qatar flights to the far east and Iberia to Central America, we are off to Vancouver on a BA Avios 2for1 voucher. I think I’ll get the video camera to record the grim facts.

    • Aliks – not sure if you’ve ever been to Vancouver before (apologies if so) but I’d highly recommend spending a morning/afternoon on Granville Island – have some lovely small distilleries and shops and a large indoor food market, so would definitely suggest grabbing some bits and bobs for lunch one day!

      • Sounds like fun – we have a couple of days to spend before heading for Seattle and on to Alaska. One day is booked for a ferry ride across to Vancouver Island and seaplane back, but we were looking for ideas for the other day.

        Note – none of this would have been possible without HfP – cheers Raffles!!

        • Scallder says:

          We never got round to it as I was tipping it down when we were there, but cycling round Stanley Park is meant to be lovely. Having done the ferry (to Nanaimo, back from Victoria as we were on the island for 6 days), keep an eye out for some sea life – we saw some baby whales on the way back into Vancouver :)

          Vancouver (and BC generally) is definitely on the list of places to revisit!

        • The aquarium in Stanley park is not to be missed esp sea otter

  14. The lack of healthy options is disappointing.

  15. Worrying about provision of Pringles on a potentially £390 air fare…

    £296.60 is what a colleague has just paid to travel Standard Class from Oxford to Edinburgh return on the train. (Yes, *I* know that it’s possible to split tickets – or that you can buy a peak ticket to Glasgow for £140.80 because it’s priced by Virgin rather than XC and get a Scotrail across – but not everybody does.)

  16. The decline of BA is shocking with every class of travel suffering.
    It the quality middle eastern airlines get the Atlantic routes they are finished, but BA will do nothing to improve service if they do. We have recently used miles to fly BA to Dubai and it was as bad as every other transatlantic route.
    Why anyone would choose BA to fly east is a mystery to me

  17. I hear they are planning on selling scratchcards next, and when they land on time they will play a fanfare (doubt it will be played too often).

  18. Surely they brought in buy on board a while ago by giving Y passengers the option to pay up to £15 for a decent meal.

    Personally, I don’t have a problem with paying for optional extras. What really annoys me with BA is having to pay for seat selection and the extortionate amounts they charge.

    • workaround for the cheap seats – if you want exit seat without paying £18

      check in T-24 but don’t print bps

      get to terminal early and use self check in machines to print bps – you get the option to choose any same class seat foc incl exits (if any are left)

      • Bit of a risk on a long haul..

        • And indeed not possible on LH (HBO fares are SH only)

          • yep it is more suited to SH, where failure is not exactly a big deal

            Works for both HBO & Avios redemptions

            Would it work on LH Avios redemptions? Unsure and you might prefer to pay to get certainty of decent seats

  19. Slightly off topic but nonetheless relevant to the feelings about BA thread here-

    I am currently “in discussions” with BA’s Customer Service (CS) team & I’d be interested in the collected HFP reader thoughts – not so much recommendations but more the empathy / shared experiences.

    The story? I booked a BA flight for a business trip to Chicago. The flight, though carrying a BA flight number, was operated by AA. Arriving at LHR T3, I was told that I was too late for the AA check-in process – apparently AA is 60 minutes, versus 45 minutes with BA. This was news to me & not shared in any documentation from my travel agent (yes, their problem of course, not BA’s). However, it’s not unreasonable of me to assume that a booking with a BA flight number would be subject to the same timetable as their own metal.

    (I am also arguing I wasn’t late for 60 mins, as the AA check-in agent was struggling with system changes but I fear I will get no traction on that one)

    When asked about another flight, a member of AA’s staff said “it’s BA’s ticket, you need to talk to them” yet, walking to the BA counter, I was told it is AA’s problem to solve. A very poor C/X, people. I needed to get on another flight but to do that, BA charged me a £150 change fee. There was no suggestion from ground staff this was a negotiable fee, even for a long term BA customer, still on Silver and calling out the problems (above).

    Finally – which is to tip me over the “never fly BA again” fence – is, through the recent dialogue with BA’s CS team. The impression I have is one of “closing the door” on any further conversation. They have stated in writing “our response will not change and we’re unable to respond to any further requests for a refund about the issues you have raised” and “You can refer your complaint to the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) for an independent decision to be made”

    All in all, a very poor customer experience. Reading threads like this above + others here on HFP suggests it’s time give up with them.


  20. Henry Young says:

    Totally revolting junk food – another reason not to fly BA !

  21. On reflection, whilst I’m no apologist for them, Fred was a bit rude but right & Jonty has posted some good comments in the past. I have also been (self-imposed! :) ) victim to some ill-advised snappy comments & the crowd reaction. Insiders do naturally get defensive about FT & PTS. Bit of a storm in a teapot IMV.

    OK folks: let’s wrap it up & move on, the next deal beckons.

    • The specific complaint in this case was fair, especially given the nature of the topic. In general stuff on here is credited although the bulk is sent to me directly by PRs.

      If Business Traveller covers something today for example and I do it tomorrow, I am not copying them – we both got the same press release but they have a different posting schedule to me.

  22. Race to the bottom? We hear this here a lot – but – in Europe – BA have also become extremely competitive on price over the last couple of years.

    It’s still a metal flying machine moving you from A to B whether you get a decent free meal or not. Cost of fare matters.

    On ‘our’ route (boringly, not for me as I love it out here, but boring compared to the flights of my younger years and vs the many other more exotic jaunts seen here, we always fly to the same place! 4 or 5 times a year) I have seen that you can now regularly get HBO flights for £45 – amazingly cheap compared to the past. It does indeed make 7500 Avios + RFS fee look expensive, at times. But £45!

    So I don’t think it is actually a race to the bottom for all concerned. Just cheaper if you time it right. Forget the peanuts, buy your own lunch. In Europe, I would guess it makes newer aircraft, sooner, far more likely as routes become more sustainable (shaved costs, better load factor). I’m really not that bothered about the food though I would hate to see the booze go payable, quite a good marketing point of difference vs the LCCs so pls keep it!

    • The other thing about booze is that it makes a boring couple of hours somewhat more bearable!

  23. wetboy1uk says:

    Have had an outstanding complaint with BA since 19 June. Phoned today to eb told that as the flight was with AA they were not responsible and I should contact AA. Perhaps then they should not sell AA flights if they take no responsibility. Even their terms and conditions state that when it is a different carrier I can still make the complaint to either the carrier it was purchased through or the one the flight was with – but seems BA do not give a shit about my complaint. Its not only the in flight service that is getting worse but their customer care – apparently the reason for the delay is an increase in the number of complaints – what a f**king surprise. They are a disgrace and shouldn’t be allowed to use the word British in their name

  24. Jason Hindle says:

    For my next long haul I’ve decided to give Emirates a try. BA’s current cutbacks strike me as small minded rather than representing real savings. They’ve even had cutbacks to First, which make no sense to me.

    Helps that Emirates have acceptable business class prices where with BA I’d have to travel down back. Pity really. Getting on a BA flight in, erm, certain parts of the world, used to feel like stepping into Britian.

  25. Tony Burns says:

    Inevitable I guess considering fellow now CEO of BA was formerly head of Vueling. Fly all sorts of airlines from Malaga to different parts of the UK and still think BA is best when cost is competitive with the LCA’s flying from Malaga,