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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.

M&M World

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 (119)

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

  • MR Bridge says:

    The issue of airline food has never been resolved. I can’t say I have ever enjoyed a food service.Even First lacks flavour.
    I despair at the food thrown away, furthermore the(environmental) cost of flying all this food , and the trolleys that house them .

    technology has moved so quick, but airlines still have not caught up. It should be so simple for all pax to pre order, preventing all waste, and thus cutting costs without reducing number of meals.

    • Cupoftea says:

      It should be so simple, but believe someone that knows – it really isn’t. The very limited preordering available on BA at the moment was on the cusp of being impossible to deliver – and any extension to it would require massive change and investment.

      • John says:

        Investment should be expected. You have to spend money to make money (/save money)!

    • czechoslovakia says:

      Best meal I have ever had was on a Swiss flight, ZRH-DUB. Clean plates all round. You could argue Swiss has a similar monopoly on the local market as BA. Difference is, Swiss genuinely care about their reputation, and still try to be an ambassador for their land. BA care about margins, and i genuinely feel that they fear for their existence with a “get-what-you-can, whilst-you-can” attitude. Certainly margin potential on M&M`s will be higher than Smarties. But seriously, what to expect from BA, when it can`t even be bothered serving it`s own land properly?

      • Peter K says:

        Serious comment here. My wife and I can’t eat smarties as they have wheat in but I can eat M&Ms. The free from section in supermarkets is also growing as demand is growing. Maybe there more to it than just money grabbing but making it more available to more people.

        Having said that, considering all my wife and I could have last year to Rome and back was crisps maybe I assume too much?

  • Leo says:

    Is it really the end of the world? Is this really the replacement for the second meal in Y? I thought that was the fun size Mars bar?

  • Will says:

    Sorry to spoil the party or not but this kind of news doesn’t upset me that much. The food they serve in economy is generally beyond tepid and I would be happy to pay if it was half decent. If I was forced to pay for the main meal that would make my choice easier as we could just hit the terminal for something much better. Of course depends on timings and where you’re flying from.

    If this cost cutting was to deliver a better “passenger experience” I’d be all for it but don’t suppose they will be making up for it elsewhere to so not fussed either way. I think it’s sensible for the legacy carriers though.

    I’m certainly not there thinking – Hmmmmm I’m going to fly a legacy carrier because they give me some free “average” grub. The wife might say different.

    • harry says:

      the booze is more important, though – could even be a deal breaker

      I normally knock back 3-5 drinks going out – sorry, that’s the way it is, start of my hols, just driven 4 hrs, no driving other end, 3 fractious tikes on my hands – I can come up with the excuses but I do like to wind down on the way out – and that could easily be £20 if paid

  • Sarah says:

    Rob, I’m not sure if you’ve covered the (latest) degradation of the Band 3 short haul economy catering yet (apologies if you have and I’ve missed it), but it would be great if you could highlight to everyone how the sandwich and cake have been replaced with a small bag of crisps or a biscuit. This is apart from between 12 and 2, which, according to BA, is the only time frame during which they were being eaten. There has been zero communication from BA about this change, which I guess is no surprise, but I really hope they receive as much negative publicity for this as they did for the changes to the long haul economy catering.

    • Rob says:

      Yes, I had a couple of emails from very annoyed travellers last week.

      • harry says:

        Is it just band 3? I know that’s eg Madrid – is there a table somewhere showing Band 3? Tried googling it but not immediately obvious where the divide 3 —> 4 is in short haul

        • Sarah says:

          Band 3 routes (flight time 115 to 179 mins)

          (courtesy of Flyertalk 😉 )

          • mark2 says:

            We will be flying CE to Venice in Sept. The flight leaves at 0645 and we are staying at Hampton in terminal so can grab something there, then lounge (which may have spinach and egg breakfast) so have no interest in food on plane. When we fly in CW it is usually overnight, and after several weeks in Canada more food is the last thing I need!

          • harry says:


    • dps says:

      It’s pretty cynical and disdainful to deem a 20g packet of crisps a “snack”. In absolute terms, it’s no big deal, but in relative terms it insults pasengers whose past experience and BA “marketing” lead them to expect something more substantial on a flight that leaves before and arrives after “lunch” – such as BA474 dep LHR 1110 arr BCN 1415. If it’s a race to the bottom, BA has already won it.

      • roger says:

        or BA2700 LGW – FUE leaving at 11:50 landing 4h20m later.
        I am not sure even there is a proper meal on this service.
        Tried to select meal option on BA MMB but no joy!
        From BA’s website cannot figure out what I am getting.

    • Lady London says:

      Crisps or a biscuit? Why on earth are they bothering?

      It would be less embarrassing if they served nothing.

      Or got more honest and provided a quality offering that could be paid for on board – or – pre-prdered.

      The Do & Co offering on Austrian out of Vienna would be a good example for BA to follow… if they are interested in quality, that is.

      • Lady London says:

        Oh, I forgot, even French trains are serving better than this.

        • harry says:

          state owned

          loss making

          subsidised snacks

          • harry says:

            so that would be subsidised by general taxation

            I guess even BA could offer a decent snack if it got a £2 subsidy every time

  • Aliks says:

    Pedant alert – borne is the past tense of the verb to bear –
    “Long-haul travellers in World Traveller (economy) have BORNE the brunt.”

    But I do agree there has been a lot of brunt in recent times.

    Anyway, we will get a chance to experience it first hand next week. After a year of Qatar flights to the far east and Iberia to Central America, we are off to Vancouver on a BA Avios 2for1 voucher. I think I’ll get the video camera to record the grim facts.

    • Scallder says:

      Aliks – not sure if you’ve ever been to Vancouver before (apologies if so) but I’d highly recommend spending a morning/afternoon on Granville Island – have some lovely small distilleries and shops and a large indoor food market, so would definitely suggest grabbing some bits and bobs for lunch one day!

      • Aliks says:

        Sounds like fun – we have a couple of days to spend before heading for Seattle and on to Alaska. One day is booked for a ferry ride across to Vancouver Island and seaplane back, but we were looking for ideas for the other day.

        Note – none of this would have been possible without HfP – cheers Raffles!!

        • Scallder says:

          We never got round to it as I was tipping it down when we were there, but cycling round Stanley Park is meant to be lovely. Having done the ferry (to Nanaimo, back from Victoria as we were on the island for 6 days), keep an eye out for some sea life – we saw some baby whales on the way back into Vancouver 🙂

          Vancouver (and BC generally) is definitely on the list of places to revisit!

        • mark2 says:

          The aquarium in Stanley park is not to be missed esp sea otter

  • Gavin says:

    The lack of healthy options is disappointing.

    • the_real_a says:

      Healthy but filling. i dont want to eat crap, but i do want to to be full!

    • Mr Dee says:

      Certainly a lack of unprocessed food, its just a load of processed carbohydrates.

  • Andrew says:

    Worrying about provision of Pringles on a potentially £390 air fare…

    £296.60 is what a colleague has just paid to travel Standard Class from Oxford to Edinburgh return on the train. (Yes, *I* know that it’s possible to split tickets – or that you can buy a peak ticket to Glasgow for £140.80 because it’s priced by Virgin rather than XC and get a Scotrail across – but not everybody does.)

  • Phil G says:

    The decline of BA is shocking with every class of travel suffering.
    It the quality middle eastern airlines get the Atlantic routes they are finished, but BA will do nothing to improve service if they do. We have recently used miles to fly BA to Dubai and it was as bad as every other transatlantic route.
    Why anyone would choose BA to fly east is a mystery to me

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