British Airways ‘buy on board’ – how to get a flight refund or 1000 Avios compensation

I ran a couple of extra articles yesterday about the introduction of ‘buy on board’ catering from 11th January on British Airways services from Heathrow and Gatwick.

Club Europe catering is not impacted and will apparently be improved from January.

City and Stansted will not switch under Summer 2017.  However, the British Airways website implies that free alcholic drinks are being removed from these flights:

Depending on the time and duration of your flight, we will offer you a light snack or something more substantial, along with a soft drink of your choice from the bar.

My articles from yesterday are repeated at the bottom of this article for the benefit of our email subscribers who did not receive the extra articles yesterday.

Refunds are available

One point worth noting is that British Airways appears to be offering refunds to anyone who purchased a short-haul ticket before yesterday for travel after 11th January as long as they cancel up to 28 days before departure.   Whether or not you feel that strongly about the issue, this is a way of extricating yourself from any non-refundable tickets you may bought but now no longer require.

1,000 Avios are being offered to those with existing bookings after 11th January who make a complaint.  This is worth £8 of free food and so compensates you for having to pay for a snack.

You need to complete this form here and state that you would like to claim a refund or receive 1,000 Avios.  You will see that there is now a box marked “Are you contacting us about Short Haul Buy on Board Catering?”.


The rest of this article is taken from the two pieces yesterday:

What will be on offer?

The British Airways website has the following information:

London Heathrow and London Gatwick

From 11 January, we’re upgrading our food offering in our short haul economy cabins (Euro Traveller and UK Domestic) on flights to and from London Heathrow and London Gatwick.

We’re proud to be partnering with Marks & Spencer, another iconic British brand, to offer you a new ‘M&S on board’ menu that will replace the complimentary service currently provided. You will be able to select from the seasonally inspired menu and buy your food and drinks in one easy transaction.

M&S on board sample menu

Enjoy delicious sweet and savoury treats from British food favourite Marks & Spencer when travelling in our short haul economy cabins, Euro Traveller and UK Domestic, to and from London Heathrow and London Gatwick.

Here are just some of the exciting food options you can look forward to on board.

Fresh food

Classic Fruit Salad £3.10
Includes pineapple, melon, mango, apple, kiwi and blueberries.

Yogurt with Summer Berry Compote and Crunchy Granola – £1.95
Reduced-fat Greek-style yogurt, blackberry and blackcurrant compote and granola with sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Mature Cheddar Cheese Ploughman’s – £3.00
Farmhouse cheddar cheese with vine-ripened tomatoes, pickle and lettuce on malted brown bread

Aberdeen Angus Beef and Red Onion Chutney Bloomer – £4.75
Soft onion bloomer with Aberdeen Angus beef, red onion chutney and tangy mustard.

Bacon Roll – £4.75
A soft white, buttered roll filled with succulent smoked British bacon. Served hot.

Mozzarella and Tomato Focaccia – £4.75
Buffalo mozzarella, juicy vine-ripened tomatoes and fragrant basil pesto dressing on pesto focaccia. Served hot.

Spiced Chicken with Quinoa and Rice – £4.95
Spiced chicken with quinoa, rice and a smoky tomato salsa.

Savoury snacks

Oriental Snack Mix – £2.00
Sesame-coated roasted cashew nuts, edamame soybeans, and roasted corn with puffed brown rice all with a soy and five-spice seasoning.

Hand Cooked Crisps – £1.00
Salt and Vinegar, or Lightly Sea Salted.

Nut Assortment – £1.60
A selection of almonds, brazil nuts, cashew nuts and hazelnuts.

Wasabi Peas – £1.60
Roasted green peas with a punchy wasabi flavoured coating.

Something sweet

Percy Pig – £1.85
Soft fruit-flavoured gums made with fruit juice…an M&S classic.

Salted Caramel Hazelnut Millionaire Biscuit – £1.45
Made without wheat and deliciously gluten free.

Chocolate Pretzels and Candy Popcorn – £2.45
Milk chocolate-covered toffee popcorn with popping candy pieces.

Super Nut Fruit and Seed Flapjack – £1.45
Soft, chewy all-butter flapjack.

Drinks menu

Choose from a wide range of hot or cold drinks when travelling in our short haul economy cabins, Euro Traveller and UK Domestic, to and from London Heathrow and Gatwick.

Hot drinks

Java Republic Coffee – £2.30
Twinings Tea – £2.30
Cadburys Hot Chocolate – £2.70

Soft drinks

Pip Organic Orange & Apple Juice (200ml) – £2.70
Vita Coco Coconut Water (330ml) – £2.70
Folkington’s Elderflower Presse (250ml) – £2.20
Appletiser (275ml) – £1.80
Harrogate Still or Sparkling Water (500ml) – £1.80
Coca Cola or Diet Coke (330ml) – £1.80

Alcoholic drinks

Spirits (5cl mini bottles) – £4.50
Assorted range including Bombay Sapphire, Johnny Walker Red, Smirnoff Red, Baileys Irish Cream, Bacardi and Jack Daniels.

Mixers (150ml mini bottles) – £1.50
Assorted range including Schweppes tonic water, slimline tonic and ginger ale.

Red or white wine (187ml) – £4.50
Prosecco Bottega Gold (200ml) – £6.00
London Pride (330ml) – £4.00
Becks Lager (330ml) – £4.00
Magners Original Cider (330ml) – £4.00

Will I get free food as a British Airways status member?


Can I pay with Avios?

Yes you can!  British Airways sent me some sample ‘pay with Avios’ prices:

Mature cheddar cheese ploughman’s – £3 or 375 Avios

Lightly salted hand cooked crisps – £1 or 125 Avios

Water – £1.80 or 225 Avios

Tea or coffee – £2.30 or 300 Avios

G&T (Anika, please note :-) ) – £6 or 750 Avios

Wine – £4.50 or 575 Avios

It could have been less generous, I suppose. At around 0.8p per point there are worse ways to spend your points (but obviously far better ways too).

This topic will no doubt run and run, but I think I will call it a day for a while now!

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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  1. Does this mean that someone (such as myself) who NEEDS to take medication at regular intervals will have to buy a bottle of water in order to take it? This issue is of extreme concern to me as I have once previously suffered this on a short haul Iberia flight in Economy and I had no money on me at all. The crew when finally faced with either having to declare a medical emergency and divert the plane or give me a free glass of water in order that I could takemy medication relented and provided me with water.

    • No not at all. Just like any other airline that provides buy on board you should plan ahead and buy at the airport if you dont wish to onboard. Crew will be able to provide you with a free glass of water should require from the aircrafts potable water syatem.

    • They will still prove free portable water

      • The free water will be potable. If you want your water to be portable (ie in a bottle) you will have to pay 😉

    • Barry cutters says:

      extreme concern????
      If you know you need to take medicine regularly during the 1 to 5h short haul flight, for any pre booked flights you now have a minimum of 3 & 1/2 months to plan the fact you need to take a few pounds with you to buy a bottle of water at either the airport or onboard the plane.
      You can also fill out the form and get 1000 avios which will allow you to purchase water onboard with these points.
      If you have not already booked you have the the choice of many other airline which will also charge you for water.
      I see the frustration , i really do, but lets not blow this out of proportion and pretend its an issue for medical reasons. It clearly isn’t .
      As someone who requires medication regularly , i would suggest you plan ahead a little and look after yourself.
      sorry to be harsh

      • Well – I once booked via BA website to travel to Spain and only when I got the airport did I realise that i was on Iberia metal. They REFUSED me water to take my medication (which on a 2 plus hour flight I needed) unless I paid for a bottle. Well I actually had no cash on me and they would not take a card for under a minimum amount.

        I finally told them that they had a choice – either let me have some water or in 30 minutes they would have to declare a medical emergency and divert the flight.

        I finally got some water.

        I complained to BA through whom I booked and they were so appalled that they gave me 10,000 ex gratia Avios.

        I have asked BA directly about this and they say that they will provide free water on Econ flights still.

        While on this subject I need to travel with medication and if away for more than a month I need quite a lot. All airlines advise you to carry this as carry on and they also advise you to carry all valuables (such as cameras etc) in the same way.

        Well I asked BA if they would allow me a small additional piece of carry luggage because of this – NO was the reply (enven through I was travelling in Business Class). I even escallated this ti the Chairman’s office because TWICE BA have lost my checked luggage.

        By contrast I know of two other airlines who WILL allow this even in Economy one is SAA and the other is Thompsons (yes the charter airline – whose Premium Economy service (apart from no flat beds) is at least as good and a third of the price of BA Business Class. Thompson’s Premium economy also gives you FREE Business Lounge access.

    • Do what I do (because i’m tight)
      Bring an Empty water bottle through security , when you are getting a coffee air side , ask them to fill up your water bottle from the tap , they are required to do this if you ask from any of the food outlets . Also if its Gatwick , there are 2 water fountains , they are not easy to find but they are there !
      I complained to Gatwick once about their lack of water fountains , in many airports ive been to around the world , water fountains are outside most toilet areas . But , when you read that the most sold item in the airport is WATER, then why would they want to give it away for free !

      • Nice new water fountain in T5 at the top of the escalators after security. I used it for the first time to fill my bottle when I went through last weekend.

    • You can take an empty water bottle through security and fill up air side. I’ve never had a problem with this and if the toilets only have warm water taps (which a lot seem to in airports these days – probably to force you to buy a drink!) then I usually find the lounge/cafe/restaurants are happy to fill it with cold tap water. Added benefit of saving the waste produced single use bottles of water.

  2. ….OT I know…well sort of. The next thing will be that they will starting increasing the fuel surcharge as oil is creeping up in price. When the price of oil goes down it’s all ‘But we buy forward reserves at the old higher price’………when it goes up………..yeah right it kicks in almost immediately.

  3. MaldenFlyer says:

    Totally OT, sorry…

    Just wondering if anyone has successfully used the Amex trailfinders offer to buy a gift card? The last day for the offer is today and it seems a shame not to use it…but only if somebody else has been the guinea pig first!

  4. BTW, if you think that Club Europe will have any ‘improvements’, then you haven’t been paying attention. ‘Improvements’ and ‘Enhancements’ are terms applied to describe everything bad so far…

  5. Is the 1k pp e/w?

  6. Has the removal of alcoholic drinks been confirmed ex-LCY/STN? Will I be able to get the 1,000 Avios back on those flights for lack of G&T?

  7. I wonder if I can cancel a BA/Avios booking I don’t really need next year, at no charge and the original £70 refunded ?

  8. Stephen Wilson says:

    As a current M&S employee, can I get these meals at the discounted staff rate ??

  9. Slightly OT – I miss the Galleries lounge at Gatwick. I know it needed an overhaul but its such a shame it didn’t stay open while the new lounge was being set up at the South Terminal. It was one of the first lounges i visited when I obtained my first ever silver status (ah nostalgia). I don’t mind No.1 lounges but this morning it was ram-packed.
    Raffles, would you ever consider running an article that would list your favourite Galleries lounges/ have them ranked? There can be quite a difference between T3 lounge vs. T5B or other lounges worldwide.

  10. The nature of some of the comments in regard to the removal of what effectively is a gin and tonic and snack over the last few days have been unbelievable. The shock, horror and disgust, threats of legal action, clamber for compensation of Avios points, regurgitation of the terminally dull ‘race to the bottom’ or ‘they’ll be selling scratch cards next’ quote is like some collective hysteria. Am I the only one thinking some people need to get a grip.

    • No you’re not.

      And the irony is many of those making such comments say they’ll just stock up in the lounge instead. Which implies they’re well able to afford £10 for a sandwich and a G&T.

      Of course BA are laughing because they know full well that for all the toys being thrown out of prams today, the whingers will be first in line when they announce their next flash sale in Club World or First, just so they can keep the shiny little plastic card that makes them feel so frightfully important.

      • Some of the comments are maybe over the top, but free bar and snacks is an important differentiator on short haul EU and domestic flights, particularly ex Gatwick where BA go head to head with Easyjet on so many routes. It’s a bit rich for BA to unilaterally withdraw something they trumpeted as part of their offer, especially when they give customers so little leeway when they wish to make changes.

        I have a reward booking (long haul First) made before the announcement to fly after so I am claiming my 1k Avios – why shouldn’t I?

      • I always find annoying when someone tells in response to complain to a reduction of free service that “you can afford it” … you can afford to gift me 10 pounds too doesn’t mean that you should gift it to me … regardless of the significance or not of the issue itself … I think BA took wrong path of becoming low service high cost airline … and the louder we’ll tell that to them the better – they are destroying themselves piece by piece by that

      • well my card is bronze and I am not a big boozer. I am a price sensitive customer and if BoB drives fares down then I am all for it. But the retroactive introduction of this change is down right dishonest. They are unilaterally asking for more of my hard earned cash to provide something (a cup of tea and a G+T) which I was promised for free (in fact not just promised for free but trumpeted as a key differentiator of the BA offer – do you remember the “friendly lemon Ads?). I can live without a cup of tea, but if I paid for one at Costa and they failed to deliver one they would cheerfully give me a refund.

      • william merrett says:

        Give Easyjet or Ryanair some access to landing slots at LHR and you’ll quickly see how (dis)loyal BA frequent flyers really are.

        People fly BA due to lack of real choice, and the government are to blame for that as they won’t build any new runways in the right places.

        Exactly the same with houses. It’s not a market, the competition is not really competition unless the playing field is level.

      • Lady London says:

        @gumshoe have you wandered into the wrong room?

    • The comments are ridiculous. I cant comprehend any adult who chooses an airline on the basis of a free drink and half an old sandwich!! And those that do have an issue can use the 1,000 Avios to purchase a drink. How do they survive without free water ?!?!

      • Some people travel with their jobs…
        People may find it difficult to expense the old free perks of alcohol and sandwich of a flight.

        • So they can still get smashed in the lounge first, or buy their own alcohol. (With the avios they are earning via their business travel!). its utter nonsense.

      • You can’t comprehend it? I can. If it is Easyjet at £90 and BA at £95 I would choose BA because I know I would spend more than a fiver on a cup or tea and a G&T.

        I am not angry about the introduction of BoB per se. It is the cack handed retroactive way that they have introduced it which is morally dubious and possibly illegal.

        BA have managed to turn what could have been a positive story about an upgraded catering offering (which the M&S partnership undoubtedly brings) into a PR disaster by refusing to provide what was promised on existing bookings. The fact that they will offer 1000 Avios if you complain or threaten legal action suggests that they think they might be on shaky ground legally (no one actually knows of course if they are acting illegally until a senior judge rules) but the fact that they are not offering this proactively suggests that they are penny pinching shysters.

        • You won’t be getting a “senior judge” on your small claims action.

          • I know. A small claims court decision sets absolutelg no precedent. You need to go to the court of appeal for that. Which is why BA always settle before the lower court issues its ruling. The lower court decision will either be against BA (but non binding in other cases) or it will be in favour of BA. The latter option is ironically worse for BA because it opens op the possiblity of an appeal to a higher court which will issue a decsion binding on lower courts.

    • Hear hear! If I see “race to the bottom one more time”…..

  11. I have put in for 28,000 Avios based on the 28 bookings I’ve made for next summer to/from PMI! Let’s see how that goes.

    • I have a similar number… although from LCY and as it’s still grey as to when exaclty the food (crisps!) and drinks are being removed, I doubt I can claim yet. Please do udpate the thread with how you get on!

  12. Does anyone know if they will offer any alternative to 1000 Avios for people who don’t have BAEC accounts?

    • food & drink was complimentary.
      They are just withdrawing it. Its not priced into the ticket.
      At least thats what they told me yesterday when enquiring for a 12 person group booking I have.

      My big worry about this, is that it is going to make lounged even more busy. £20 you can have all you can eat & drink!

      • That is such an outrageous lie that if they try that with me I’ll be heading towards MCOL before they get the chance to follow up with “it’s what our customers want”

  13. How exactly will they implement ‘pay with Avios’ on-board? Will they want to see your Avios card? Or already have the info from your booking details / seat number etc?
    Sounds like more work for cabin crew…

    • I think it will involve the BA app. I think they have said somewhere something like make sure you have the latest version of our app.

  14. This is great news as I have no interest in that sweaty soggy plastic bag thing anyway. Eating and drinking on short haul squashed up like a sardine, no thank you. If I want to eat I do it in the lounge or in the airport, So we’ll done BA for bringing some good quality food onboard for those that want it, good riddance to the sweaty inedible thing in the plastic bag. This may actually improve my short haul flying experience as it may put people off buying food and drink, no more coffee or red wine down my leg.

  15. I have a vague recollection of flying EasyJet (NCE-LPL) a few years back and by the time they had arrived at the exit row there was nothing of interest left. Unless you pre-ordered, it was virtually impossible to get the bacon sandwich, I assume BA will offer something similar at the time of booking?

    I also don’t understand how this will work in practice. My flight from NCE to London is just under 2 hours and the plane is completely full every time. The 2 people working economy these days barely have time to throw out the freebies before the seat belt sign comes back on. Since BA have squeezed an extra 4 rows of economy onto the already cramped plane (and removed the 2nd rear toilet), there doesn’t appear to be much space to allow for more staff to ‘cater’ for the extra time that would surely be needed.

  16. After reading the article I found myself wondering how many airlines are still offering a ‘free drink’ and snack on their short haul European flights – I think on the Dublin – London route only Cityjet are still doing this. Was wondering what others do ?

  17. Ahhh well nothing anyone can do about it.

    Its only going to get worse.

  18. Do these ‘enhancements’ apply to domestic flights too?

  19. I’ve waded through the related articles but cannot see posted/asked anywhere the following:

    Do we know whether exec club avios can be earned by paying for BoB purchases in the same way HighLife Shop does? You get 2 avios for every £1 spent there. Might be a simple (and inexpensive) way of accruing a minimal amount of points to prevent an account from going dormant.

    I cant exactly see me being able to achieve enough avios to afford that F redemption to XXX via Percy Pig consumption alone but they would help if I happened to be purchasing them anyway.

    Also noticing the distinct lack of any meal-deal offer at this stage (by a prosecco and a toastie, get a wasabi peas free style) , although I’m guessing things like that will be introduced later?

    Also all this fresh M&S food will be loaded at London. What happens on the first inbound of the day that has stopped overnight the night before? Presumably the yoghurts and quinoa will be out of bounds as BA have cancelled all their catering contracts at all European outstations. (And before anyone berates me for being over dramatic again, no BA don’t refrigerate their C food overnight at present in this situation or keep the chillers on while the aircraft is overnighting). Roll on the spoiled food threads next summer – M&S fresh food stuff isn’t particularly resilient at the best of times due to its freshness and lack (in general) of long lists of preservatives.

    Percy pigs all round on a breakfast service perhaps? lol

    • No Avios for purchases – would slow down service.

      No easyJet meal deal.

      Anyone who expects the M&S deal to last more than 12 months before they are replaced by petrol station sarnies at the same price is living in dreamland.

      • I am not convinced that M and S gets a good deal out of this. There is real potential for their brand to be damaged by association with BA which is not exactly well loved at the moment and also by the fact that overnighted and therefore stale products which are eaten at altitude by resentful passengers who have only half their taste buds functioning might not show M and S’s offering off in their best light.

      • Lady London says:


        It’s bait and switch… well, switch anyway.

    • “What happens on the first inbound of the day that has stopped overnight the night before?”

      BA have been return-catering both club and traveler breakfasts on the last departure from London for a while now. They’re kept in insulated chiller boxes in the galleys, with temperature strips to make sure they’ve stayed cool enough overnight.

      • Thanks for that – hopefully the M&S offering will similarly kept cool enough
        I guess also the new catering will take up more space as there’s more choice and larger portions being sold than the “ambient” biscuits or breakfast rolls/pastries take up. Not so much an issue at LHR but galley space out of LGW is somewhat limited – often no space for duty free service on the 319’s as effectively only a half galley at the back. It’ll be interesting how all this pans out in reality :)

  20. Feel free to join in the banter on BA’s FB page…

  21. Blimey! I’m not sure which is worse – the number of comments about “race to the bottom” or the number of comments complaining about the people who actually expected to get what they’d paid for.

    Doesn’t really matter. I prefer Virgin.

  22. I am glad to hear that most of you will never fly on BA again.
    There should be plenty of availability next time I want to book a redemption.

  23. Thanks for the 1,000 avios tip! Sent my complaint off this morning.

  24. Have received my Avios – just to note that this is not per sector, they only gave 1,000 for a return flight even though the two legs are on different booking references…

    Hardly generous, because this is a flight to PFO which would have previously got a reasonable meal box plus e.g. a coffee, a water and a bottle of wine. You’re not getting that lot for 500 Avios!

  25. davetrousers says:

    I complained to BA (using their online complaints page) and this morning I received a £20 evoucher! It seems that I can only use this to pay for future BA flights.

    I replied asking if this could be used towards on board snacks and that I was expecting to receive some Avios as these can be used.

  26. Sent mine off for 3 flights. Two were connected (EDI-LHR-HEL) and another was LHR-EDI following a flight from TOK. Only offered 1,000 avios for all. Its not much but better than nothing. Still a shame as I was told that M&S buy onboard was something customers wanted. Well I still want the complimentary drink and snack – If I want a sandwich I will continue to buy one from Boots

  27. FIRSTclstraveller says:

    Well I submitted a complaint last week and received not one but two responses (both identical which clearly shows they have a stock answer) but no ex gratia Avios or evoucher. Very disappointing.

    • Agreed they definitely have a stock answer. I got another email with the same statement, and I was compensated another 1k avios so that means they got both of my complaints.
      Thats completely not fair to see you have not received anything. On those grounds I would take it further

  28. Can anyone please confirm if they’ve managed to get a full refund on their flight instead of the 1000 Avios?

    • I’ve just spoke to three departments at BA they all said the same – no refund or no compensation.


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    British Airways introduces 'buy on board' catering