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

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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 is 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 , 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 (71)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Andy says:

    Great British Breakfast for £15:to £18, you get a much better breakfast in Weatherspoons for under £5.

    As already stated don’t waste your money on this, get a picnic from Gordon Rsmsey’s.

  • Mr Bridge says:

    I wish i could just a get a cheese pizza or a cheeseburger

  • Brian says:

    Honey mouse? I didn’t realise BA thought that mice counted as healthy fare these days…Must be the latest dietary fad.

  • @mkcol says:

    Wish there some pictures of this fayre they’re offering.

    • Rob says:

      There are some pictures in Cabin Crew News this week apparently.

      • @mkcol says:

        I also wonder, if by paying for this meal, you will then eradicate your chance of any operational upgrade as currently is the situation when you’ve a “special” meal ordered.

  • Fenny says:

    I wouldn’t choose any of those options and certainly wouldn’t pay anything like £15-18 for the privilege. I might pick one course from each of the options, but still think the price is a joke, even served at 30,000ft.

  • CV3V says:

    3 courses for £12.95 and a cool bag, and the food looks much nicer than what BA serve up. There is also the smugness factor when you tuck into your ‘Gordon Ramsay’ meal on the flight.

    • JQ says:

      Not worth £12.95, but I suppose if you are in a rush then the time saved could be worth it

      • DW201 says:

        I get this every time I fly from T5. Its a little expensive but a nice healthy option compared to most available in T5 (and much nicer than anything available on planes (especially short haul))

        And the cool boxes come in handy as disposable pack lunches when you dont want to carry an empty Eskie around but still want fresh food….

      • CV3V says:

        Agree on the cost, but seems better value than paying another £18 to BA for the offering

  • Marco Pierre says:

    The slope they’re/ the passengers are on is as slippery as some of their meals.
    once they roll this out, within a year ‘n a half they’ll continue their cost reduction program to downgrade the standard meals. Then after that change they’ll either increase the price of these “premium” meals or reduce their quality. Eventually there will be so many complaints that in 6 years time they’ll have removed standard ‘meals’ entirely from the economy fares.

    It will continue as IAG have a continuing cost reduction program and increasing revenue targets for the group.

    • Jason says:

      To be fair most businesses do that, from DIY merchants to tesco. I may be older but I’m sure mars bars 45 years ago were bigger 🙂
      I’ve flown BA CE, Qatar business and BA F recently. Qatar …… every meal was spot on, restaurant quality, BA F was pretty good, although not as good as Qatar but seats are slightly better imo( only just – was on 787) CE breakfast very good, late afternoon meal ok.
      BA seems a bit hit and miss and I would think eventually, if they haven’t already, people will start voting with their feet.
      On a separate note I booked some flights yesterday, using Avios, and the return wasn’t released yet. SA said I can pay for return when it comes available( which will be after 28th April), at current Avios rates, and didn’t need to book return and do a date change.

      • John says:

        Hope you got the promise that you can pay the current Avios rate after April 28 in writing! Mars bars were bigger when Snickers were called Marathon, ah nostalgia.

  • David says:

    So, even if pre-ordered there will be but a single vegetarian option. Many vegetarians get fed up with goat’s cheese as the ‘en vogue’ go-to offering for restaurants trying to be sophisticated but without a clue when it comes to Veggie meals.

    Should be said, some of the BA CE Veggie meals have been good and not falling into the stereotype. Chickpea casserole was a classic from the 09-10 era (IIRC) – every single flight (without exception) I had it everyone on the row and each row either side asked for it when they saw, plus rows behind. On one flight 9 people asked if they could switch.

    The point is, that if paying in advance, a choice would be nice.

    • Fenny says:

      I’m allergic to seafood, so the prawns are out for me. But I’d rather have the beef, preferably with smoked salmon and grapefruit desert. If they want me to pay £15, I want to pick. Otherwise, I’ll stick with the standard “chicken or beef” and pass on the tired sandwiches and stale muffin. Even flying CE, I wasn’t impressed with the choice of non-seafood.

      • amex? says:

        Small point Fenny – but you can’t actually be allergic to seafood.

        You might have a psychosomatic reaction that causes you to throw up – same as when I smell eggs – but you ain’t allergic, as such.

        • Rich says:

          Really? A friend of mine eats fish but a single mussel will see him very poorly…..

        • amex? says:

          It’s not allergy, in the true sense.

          Eg peanut allergy causes a genuine anaphylactic reaction whereas seafood/ eggs is just nausea/ vomiting due to some deep-seated memory.

          • Fenny says:

            OK, I think we need to agree to disagree here. Unless my parents lied to me and force fed me seafood as an infant, I’m pretty sure the projectile vomiting was a direct reaction the first time I ate prawns. I’m very careful to check food for unknown ingredients, as I have had the same reaction to eating prawn in fried rice when I had no clue it contained prawns. Also, I seem to have developed a major intolerance to quorn in the last few years. Having eaten it happily in the past, it now causes major upchucking. According to online articles, this is common and is due to a change in manufacturing orocesses.

            So, call it what you like, there are foods that cause major unpleasant reactiobs and I’d prefer to choose a menu that doesn’t do that to me, whilst still having the option of beef instead of pork.

        • Fenny says:

          Even when I have no idea I’m eating it?

          Don’t care whether it’s an allergy or not, you really don’t want to be in the vicinity of me ingesting sea food, especially in an enclosed environment.

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