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:
…. 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.