The much heralded improvements to British Airways Club Europe catering begin tomorrow, Sunday.
That said, it certainly isn’t improvements all round – some popular routes are having their hot meals removed.
Let’s look at what is happening.
Club Europe flights are currently grouped into four bands, with a different catering option for each. These four bands are being regrouped into Very Short, Short, Medium and Long. These groupings do NOT match the current Band 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 arrangement which is why some routes are losing hot meals.
Only Leeds Bradford, Manchester and Jersey fall into this band. You will receive a hot bacon roll, fruit and yoghurt for breakfast (Jersey retains the hot breakfast) and a cold plate for the rest of the day (09.30+ departures).
Short and Medium
‘Short’ covers routes as far as Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Bordeaux and Milan. ‘Medium’ covers routes as far out as Oslo, Bologna, Zagreb, Porto, Madrid and Bologna.
These routes will receive:
- Breakfast (to 09.29) – the current hot breakfast
- Brunch (09.30 – 10.59) – a large hot roll or a cold meat plate
- Lunch (11.00 – 13.59) – salad or a hot sandwich
- Afternoon tea (14.00 – 16.59) – cold ‘finger’ sandwiches or a ploughman’s salad (no idea what that is!) with tea cake. No more scones!
- Dinner (17.00+) – salad or a hot sandwich
On Medium routes, there will be snacks and a bar round before Lunch and Dinner.
‘Long’ is basically everything including, and beyond, Lisbon, Ibiza, Rome, Budapest, Krakow and Stockholm.
- Breakfast (departures up to 09.29) – a hot breakfast
- Rest of the Day – a two course meal with two choices of hot main course.
On the longest of the Long routes, liqueurs will now be offered alongside tea and coffee.
New service standards:
- Club World crockery to be introduced, although glasses will remain the same as present
- You now get a mug for your tea or coffee
- Wine and champagne to be served from full-size bottles on Medium and Long routes
- Trays are being reduced in size, because meals will be served as separate courses
The feedback I have had from people who have seen the demos of the new crockery is very positive.
Who wins here?
Flyers on Short and Medium routes now receive a choice of meals at all times outside breakfast.
Those flying on Long routes which were originally Band 4, outside of the breakfast period, gain an appetiser.
The real winners are those who are currently on Band 3B flights such as Gibraltar, Helsinki or Lisbon – these flights will become Long and so gain a hot meal. There will be no more afternoon tea on these services.
Who loses here?
My personal view is that removing the scones from Afternoon Tea is a downgrade, especially as my interest in a Ploughman’s salad or BA’s cold finger sandwiches is very low. I accept that the scones were not popular with a lot of passengers, however.
The big losers are those flying Club Europe on routes of approximately two hours. These routes are losing their hot meal service to be replaced with a salad or hot sandwich.
The routes losing the hot meal include (I think) Barcelona, Bologna, Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Innsbruck, Mllan, Nice, Oslo, Palma, Pisa, Porto, Prague, Salzburg, Venice, Vienna, Verona and Zagreb.
I am a little thrown by the logic of this, to be honest. There are high yield business routes on that list which are seeing hot meals cut off, whilst some predominantly lower yield leisure routes are seeing hot meals introduced.
Let’s see how it all plays out. I don’t have a Club Europe in the diary until May so please post your feedback here if you are flying on Sunday or early next week.