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Bits: BA removes hot food on long short-haul routes, Virgin launches Varadero

News in brief:

British Airways removes hot food from Band 4 flights

In order not to appear to be unduly criticising British Airways again (see my main article today!), I will assume that this is a genuine improvement to services and not a cost cutting move …..

From the end of next week, hot food is to be removed from Euro Traveller on ‘Band 4’ short haul flights.  There will now be no short haul routes serving warm meals down the back.  This includes:

  • Athens
  • Istanbul
  • Larnaca
  • St Petersburg
  • Bucharest
  • Sofia

The new cold meal – which we should assume is an improvement on the old hot meal – will be served in a box and not on a tray.  Again, I don’t want to suggest in any way that this is a downgrade as I’m sure there are good reasons why eating out of a box is preferable to eating off a tray.

Club Europe will continue to receive a hot meal but the side salad is to be removed.  Difficult to spin that bit in a positive way, to be honest, unless a lot of customers were accidentally spilling the dressing onto their clothes or something ….

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Varadero Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic to launch Varadero in Cuba

Virgin Atlantic announced a raft of changes for Summer 2017 yesterday.

The most interesting is that, from April, Virgin will fly from Gatwick to the Cuban beach resort of Varadero, photo above.  There will be one flight per week to complement the existing two flights to Havana.

The other changes are:

Gatwick to Vegas increasing from seven to nine flights per week in April and May

Gatwick to Barbados increasing from seven to nine flights per week in April

Gatwick to Montego Bay reduced from three to two flights per week in May, June, September and October

Belfast to Orlando increasing to four flights per week in late June and early July

Glasgow to Orlando increasing to four flights per week in late June and early July

Manchester to Barbados moving from one 747 flight per week to two flights on smaller A330 aircraft, with an additional third flight during the Summer school holidays

Manchester to Orlando increasing from 13 to 14 flights per week during the Summer school holidays

Remember that these changes are for 2017 and do not impact schedules for this year.

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  1. Frankie says:

    Norwegian is starting to fly to Vegas from Gatwick from the end of October using the Dreamliner

  2. dicksbits says:

    The truth is of course that BA would rather you didn’t know it was removing a salad from CE on a route like this. Even if they ‘announced this’ they wouldn’t like it being discussed online!! It probably irritates them greatly. Unless they saw a lot of salads in the waste from the flights (not sure how they’d measure this), they could have added something else rather than the usual pure enhancement.

  3. dicksbits says:

    It does make me wonder how much the bean counters need to cut costs if they constantly cutting the customer experience so visibly. This is the last area that should be cut.

  4. Kimberly says:

    Sadly, the salad is usually the best, most edible, part of the meal in CE. There’s no way they can be that expensive to prepare either as they are mostly lettuce and not filled with exciting vegetables and toppings.

  5. Absolute product enhancement for the long short-haul flights! Especially after paying BA 300 GBP for a flight to Sofia when the alternative (Wizz) would have cost 100 GBP with the seat selection…

    Product enhancement in the same way that removing the flowers from the CW lavatories enhances the product by saving the masses allergic to nature the torture of being in the same tiny cramped (non-C-compared-to-QR) toilet with them.

    • Brian says:

      Well, there you are! As long as there are people daft enough to pay 300 pounds instead of 100 pounds for the same route, there is no need for BA to change…

    • There was a flower in CW toilet in A380 SIN-LHR a few weeks ago!

  6. JamesWag says:

    BA’s continued race to the bottom.

  7. You also forgot to mention BA will be return catering both outward and return sectors in London. Club as well as Traveller. So that lovely breakfast you’re presented with ATH-LHR on a hot and sunny August day will in fact have been prepared in London the day before and stayed on board the aircraft the night without being refrigerated. Bon Appetit one and all!

    • harry says:

      Of course it’s refrigerated

      • And where are these fridges exactly? I’m not aware of any BA shorthaul aircraft having such a feature in their galleys. Yes some aircraft have a chiller compartment but this isn’t a fridge by any means, at least not for the amount of food required and it is also requires ground power to the aircraft in order to function

        • Usually for overnight storage I believe the carts are offloaded and put into external coolers to preserve the food. No need for constant overnight GPU to the aircraft that way.

          From memory, I think the 767s could have up to 20 (full cart sized) chiller compartments across the various galleys, in addition to the numerous Atlas box storage spaces for non-perishable items. Therefore there is little chance of return-leg food perishing during a round trip to somewhere like Greece.

        • harry says:

          Rest assured, C77. You are not at all likely to get food poisoning. Some food can be stored at ambient temperature. Food which needs chilling is chilled and kept at a safe low temperature – we call this refrigeration.

          Your little story about a breakfast getting prepared in London then kept onboard unrefrigerated overnight until getting served the next day is just a fanciful dream.

        • No need to get on the defensive harry, I’m just trying to establish where this “refrigeration” you keep banging on about comes from when BA galleys aren’t equipped the luxuries that you describe – at least on the Airbus fleet. Also how this low temperature is powered and maintained when the aircraft that is otherwise powered down on a nightstop/remote stand. Refrigeration requires a power source after all. Also if the catering is to be taken off and kept elsewhere overnight as someone else more helpfully suggested, surely this negates the whole purpose of getting rid of outstation catering suppliers? I am genuinely concerned that the service onboard the first inbound of the day will be sub standard in both Traveller and Club Europe cabins as food stuffs will need to be carefully chosen. Also kiss goodbye to ice in your drinks too as I doubt there will be any no matter how much it’s refridgerated, ice needs a freezer. I don’t know the answer then don’t feel obliged to respond. Just please don’t patronise further what is a genuine enquiry and service concern.

        • harry says:

          They’re (generally) not refrigerators with a coolant such as the one in your kitchen. They use chillers but the same heat exchange principles apply.

        • A few years ago I had to cost up outstation catering (amongst many other things) at LCA & various Greek islands for a potential new operator.

          I can’t remember the figures but I concluded that it was far easier, cheaper & more reliable to cater for the round trip out of LGW than it was to use local caterers. External coolers (on-airport) were not an issue and were a far better proposition than using outstation caterers.

          In fact, we even costed up that in a lot of cases it was better to fuel up the aircraft in LGW for as much of the round trip as possible than to refuel at each airport due to the significantly higher prices charged at the Greek airports!

        • Harry, whether it is a chiller or a refigerator, the food wouldn’t usually be left on-board overnight as it would require ground power to keep it running and that isn’t cheap, especially not in Greece/Cyprus, hence the use of external coolers to store the carts.

        • harry says:

          I’m sure you’re right, Tim.

          I wasn’t trying to be obtuse with that other poster – but the newspapers are not exactly full of stories (ie empirical facts) about people falling ill after eating airport food. I’m sure the food safety is as good as it gets in any first world food delivery system.

          I always preferred facts to fiction! (Apart from my deep love of European literature, of course lol)

          I might as well invent a story about fearing the wings will fall off because I’m not sure how they are held on – so it might be true.

        • harry says:

          AirPLANE food – damned iPhone lol

      • I prefer fact to fiction too harry which is why I asked the question. I don’t expect things to be so just because common sense dictates.

        So I too have done a little research since your ‘obtuse’ response to my question yesterday and found out the actual situation. You do appear to be incorrect on this occasion which actually does bring me a certain amount enjoyment.

        The answer from BA is it appears are cool box linings to some of it’s service carts. The food while chilled and prepared for storage for the return journey indeed does stay on board unrefrigerated and without the need for power or dry ice. This is also what happens now to band 1,2 and 3 overnight services.

        Perhaps next time rather than to shout people down with unnecessary ‘fanciful dreams’ you’ll take on board everything that is being said/asked and not let common sense get in the way before providing a factual response.

    • It will have been well refrigerated throughout. I’ve known LH round trips to Africa (not BA admittedly) be catered for in LON & remain onboard for the full rotation…and this included the catering for the flight crew.

  8. harry says:

    Nice picture of the new pastrami roll + sticky bun offering, courtesy CWS

  9. Frenske says:

    I don’t mind a cold meal, but don’t give a crap cold meal. That said it still a tad better than what SAS is offering which is nothing and when you pay it is still crap.

    Lately when flying for work I just buy a nice sandwich from PRET. I just declare the expenses (and get some extra airmiles from AmEx and Heathrow Reward).

  10. Genghis says:

    Very OT – I promised my wife a ‘relaxing’ holiday in Spring next year (not really my thing but happy wife happy life).

    I went to Bali in my youth (on a tight budget) and loved it. I’d like to go back and do things in a bit more style. Does anyone have any good hotel recommendations (paying cash or good value hotel points redemptions) on the beach and in Ubud?

    • AndyW says:

      If you just want to chill in Ubud take a look at the Chedi Club, stayed 5 days (probably about right as it is very quiet) before heading to the beach.

  11. OT:
    1. What do virgin/Tesco check on cc conversion? My sister and I have same surname/address. Do people think this will go thru if I transfer her cc to my Virgin FC?

    2. Also, can one have 2 e-rewards accounts with same email address (I already have one going to avios but need one for virgin)? or what is the way around this? can I join with one email then change to the one that will match my FC?….I just want more ways of earning virgin FC as I am a little bit short on a redemption.

    Thanks in advance

    • mark2 says:

      I just created another email address (well several) for this purpose.
      You my, however, have problems with the 90 day rule for multiple redemptions if time is of the essence (even with different names, maybe try different Pcs).

    • Virgin transfer from Tesco should be ok. I had two different erewards accounts with 2 different emails but they sussed it out somehow and suspended both accounts till I cancelled one! I stuck with the IHG one as it gave me more options to transfer eg. Avios, virgin, AA IHG Hilton

  12. Leonid says:

    Does anyone know if Moscow is classified as short-haul? They used to fly long-haul aircraft there so I wonder if hot food is also removed for this flight…

  13. Doug M says:

    How unfair that the new improved cold meal is only served in ET, whilst those in CE must continue to endure the old and unimporved hot meal. Surely the improvemnt should be made to those up front paying more.

  14. Wally1976 says:

    Can anyone suggest what we might expect to get flying LGW->PFO in August in ET (12:20 departure) and the return (20:10 departure) some in ET and some in CE? Thanks!

    • Wally1976 says:

      Food-wise that is!

      • harry says:

        Sounds like the meal in a box for ET – eg a pastrami roll plus a sticky sweet, I guess they’ll rotate the offering over time. CE should be better.

  15. Nick Haley says:

    Half OT, not entirely… But… Raffles do you take (article) requests?

    After a few fun years chasing BA Companion Ticket Biz redemptions — I am thinking of turning my attention away.

    Would you do a Virgin Flying Club University page? I somehow found it easy to run up 100K Avios in a year to spend double that with 2-for-1.

    Wondering if it’s possible to do that with Virgin and what are the fastest methods 🙂 !

    • Given that Virgin is an Amex transfer partner and you can get both of its MBNA credit cards (which would have netted you 35,000 between them in the recent promo) and you can get 12,000 for opening an ISA at present, 100k should be simple. There is no 2-4-1 for miles on Virgin though.

      • Nick Haley says:

        Thanks for the quick reply(!) – ah there’s two of us so would need 200k in a year. Thanks as ever.

        • Genghis says:

          There’s also the frequent Virgin transfer bonuses from Tesco though we might see a change in that through the revamp of Clubcard.