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British Airways introducing buy on board by the back door

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Regular readers will have seen my various articles recently on the major cuts to British Airways in-flight service, eg here and here and here.

Long-haul travellers in World Traveller (economy) have born the brunt.    We have seen the loss of pretzels, removal of cheese and biscuits, removal of the ‘tuck box’ and – on longer flights – the complete removal of the second meal, to be replaced by a fun-size Mars Bar.  Seriously.

Now we have the next move.

British Airways A320

From 23rd August, Pringles, M&Ms and Maltesers will be available to purchase on all long haul flights.

This was reported on Flyertalk by a BA cabin crew member, who I have met and trust, and has been confirmed by BA on Twitter.

There are a few exceptions – anyone know why Russia or Iran would have a problem with M&Ms?  (EDIT: see the comments, someone does know.)  The mid-haul routes served by the ex-BMI A321 aircraft are also excluded.

Technically, this is not ‘buy on board’ catering.  This is because they are being sold from the duty free trolley, although an announcement will be made in the cabin that they are on the trolley and available for purchase.

I very much doubt, however, that they will be sold at a ‘tax free’ price, ie 16.7% cheaper than the UK retail price.  I would bet on twice the price of your local Tesco Express.  Do let me know if you find yourself down the back after 23rd August ……

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Comments (117)

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

  • Nick C says:

    Surely they brought in buy on board a while ago by giving Y passengers the option to pay up to £15 for a decent meal.

    Personally, I don’t have a problem with paying for optional extras. What really annoys me with BA is having to pay for seat selection and the extortionate amounts they charge.

    • harry says:

      workaround for the cheap seats – if you want exit seat without paying £18

      check in T-24 but don’t print bps

      get to terminal early and use self check in machines to print bps – you get the option to choose any same class seat foc incl exits (if any are left)

      • John says:

        Bit of a risk on a long haul..

        • Genghis says:

          And indeed not possible on LH (HBO fares are SH only)

          • harry says:

            yep it is more suited to SH, where failure is not exactly a big deal

            Works for both HBO & Avios redemptions

            Would it work on LH Avios redemptions? Unsure and you might prefer to pay to get certainty of decent seats

  • David says:

    Slightly off topic but nonetheless relevant to the feelings about BA thread here-

    I am currently “in discussions” with BA’s Customer Service (CS) team & I’d be interested in the collected HFP reader thoughts – not so much recommendations but more the empathy / shared experiences.

    The story? I booked a BA flight for a business trip to Chicago. The flight, though carrying a BA flight number, was operated by AA. Arriving at LHR T3, I was told that I was too late for the AA check-in process – apparently AA is 60 minutes, versus 45 minutes with BA. This was news to me & not shared in any documentation from my travel agent (yes, their problem of course, not BA’s). However, it’s not unreasonable of me to assume that a booking with a BA flight number would be subject to the same timetable as their own metal.

    (I am also arguing I wasn’t late for 60 mins, as the AA check-in agent was struggling with system changes but I fear I will get no traction on that one)

    When asked about another flight, a member of AA’s staff said “it’s BA’s ticket, you need to talk to them” yet, walking to the BA counter, I was told it is AA’s problem to solve. A very poor C/X, people. I needed to get on another flight but to do that, BA charged me a £150 change fee. There was no suggestion from ground staff this was a negotiable fee, even for a long term BA customer, still on Silver and calling out the problems (above).

    Finally – which is to tip me over the “never fly BA again” fence – is, through the recent dialogue with BA’s CS team. The impression I have is one of “closing the door” on any further conversation. They have stated in writing “our response will not change and we’re unable to respond to any further requests for a refund about the issues you have raised” and “You can refer your complaint to the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) for an independent decision to be made”

    All in all, a very poor customer experience. Reading threads like this above + others here on HFP suggests it’s time give up with them.


    • Talay says:

      Stick them in whatever court come arbitration, come PR disaster you can throw at BA.

    • harry says:

      Won’t get much empathy from me old son. You were late.

  • Henry Young says:

    Totally revolting junk food – another reason not to fly BA !

  • harry says:

    On reflection, whilst I’m no apologist for them, Fred was a bit rude but right & Jonty has posted some good comments in the past. I have also been (self-imposed! 🙂 ) victim to some ill-advised snappy comments & the crowd reaction. Insiders do naturally get defensive about FT & PTS. Bit of a storm in a teapot IMV.

    OK folks: let’s wrap it up & move on, the next deal beckons.

    • Rob says:

      The specific complaint in this case was fair, especially given the nature of the topic. In general stuff on here is credited although the bulk is sent to me directly by PRs.

      If Business Traveller covers something today for example and I do it tomorrow, I am not copying them – we both got the same press release but they have a different posting schedule to me.

  • harry says:

    Race to the bottom? We hear this here a lot – but – in Europe – BA have also become extremely competitive on price over the last couple of years.

    It’s still a metal flying machine moving you from A to B whether you get a decent free meal or not. Cost of fare matters.

    On ‘our’ route (boringly, not for me as I love it out here, but boring compared to the flights of my younger years and vs the many other more exotic jaunts seen here, we always fly to the same place! 4 or 5 times a year) I have seen that you can now regularly get HBO flights for £45 – amazingly cheap compared to the past. It does indeed make 7500 Avios + RFS fee look expensive, at times. But £45!

    So I don’t think it is actually a race to the bottom for all concerned. Just cheaper if you time it right. Forget the peanuts, buy your own lunch. In Europe, I would guess it makes newer aircraft, sooner, far more likely as routes become more sustainable (shaved costs, better load factor). I’m really not that bothered about the food though I would hate to see the booze go payable, quite a good marketing point of difference vs the LCCs so pls keep it!

    • harry says:

      The other thing about booze is that it makes a boring couple of hours somewhat more bearable!

  • wetboy1uk says:

    Have had an outstanding complaint with BA since 19 June. Phoned today to eb told that as the flight was with AA they were not responsible and I should contact AA. Perhaps then they should not sell AA flights if they take no responsibility. Even their terms and conditions state that when it is a different carrier I can still make the complaint to either the carrier it was purchased through or the one the flight was with – but seems BA do not give a shit about my complaint. Its not only the in flight service that is getting worse but their customer care – apparently the reason for the delay is an increase in the number of complaints – what a f**king surprise. They are a disgrace and shouldn’t be allowed to use the word British in their name

  • Jason Hindle says:

    For my next long haul I’ve decided to give Emirates a try. BA’s current cutbacks strike me as small minded rather than representing real savings. They’ve even had cutbacks to First, which make no sense to me.

    Helps that Emirates have acceptable business class prices where with BA I’d have to travel down back. Pity really. Getting on a BA flight in, erm, certain parts of the world, used to feel like stepping into Britian.

  • Tony Burns says:

    Inevitable I guess considering fellow now CEO of BA was formerly head of Vueling. Fly all sorts of airlines from Malaga to different parts of the UK and still think BA is best when cost is competitive with the LCA’s flying from Malaga,

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

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