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British Airways ‘buy on board’ – how to get a flight refund or 1000 Avios compensation

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I ran a couple of extra articles yesterday about the introduction of ‘buy on board’ catering from 11th January on British Airways services from Heathrow and Gatwick.

Club Europe catering is not impacted and will apparently be improved from January.

City and Stansted will not switch under Summer 2017.  However, the British Airways website implies that free alcholic drinks are being removed from these flights:

Depending on the time and duration of your flight, we will offer you a light snack or something more substantial, along with a soft drink of your choice from the bar.


My articles from yesterday are repeated at the bottom of this article for the benefit of our email subscribers who did not receive the extra articles yesterday.

Refunds are available

One point worth noting is that British Airways appears to be offering refunds to anyone who purchased a short-haul ticket before yesterday for travel after 11th January as long as they cancel up to 28 days before departure.   Whether or not you feel that strongly about the issue, this is a way of extricating yourself from any non-refundable tickets you may bought but now no longer require.

1,000 Avios are being offered to those with existing bookings after 11th January who make a complaint.  This is worth £8 of free food and so compensates you for having to pay for a snack.

You need to complete this form here and state that you would like to claim a refund or receive 1,000 Avios.  You will see that there is now a box marked “Are you contacting us about Short Haul Buy on Board Catering?”.

The rest of this article is taken from the two pieces yesterday:

What will be on offer?

The British Airways website has the following information:

London Heathrow and London Gatwick

From 11 January, we’re upgrading our food offering in our short haul economy cabins (Euro Traveller and UK Domestic) on flights to and from London Heathrow and London Gatwick.

We’re proud to be partnering with Marks & Spencer, another iconic British brand, to offer you a new ‘M&S on board’ menu that will replace the complimentary service currently provided. You will be able to select from the seasonally inspired menu and buy your food and drinks in one easy transaction.

M&S on board sample menu

Enjoy delicious sweet and savoury treats from British food favourite Marks & Spencer when travelling in our short haul economy cabins, Euro Traveller and UK Domestic, to and from London Heathrow and London Gatwick.

Here are just some of the exciting food options you can look forward to on board.

Fresh food

Classic Fruit Salad £3.10
Includes pineapple, melon, mango, apple, kiwi and blueberries.

Yogurt with Summer Berry Compote and Crunchy Granola – £1.95
Reduced-fat Greek-style yogurt, blackberry and blackcurrant compote and granola with sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Mature Cheddar Cheese Ploughman’s – £3.00
Farmhouse cheddar cheese with vine-ripened tomatoes, pickle and lettuce on malted brown bread

Aberdeen Angus Beef and Red Onion Chutney Bloomer – £4.75
Soft onion bloomer with Aberdeen Angus beef, red onion chutney and tangy mustard.

Bacon Roll – £4.75
A soft white, buttered roll filled with succulent smoked British bacon. Served hot.

Mozzarella and Tomato Focaccia – £4.75
Buffalo mozzarella, juicy vine-ripened tomatoes and fragrant basil pesto dressing on pesto focaccia. Served hot.

Spiced Chicken with Quinoa and Rice – £4.95
Spiced chicken with quinoa, rice and a smoky tomato salsa.

Savoury snacks

Oriental Snack Mix – £2.00
Sesame-coated roasted cashew nuts, edamame soybeans, and roasted corn with puffed brown rice all with a soy and five-spice seasoning.

Hand Cooked Crisps – £1.00
Salt and Vinegar, or Lightly Sea Salted.

Nut Assortment – £1.60
A selection of almonds, brazil nuts, cashew nuts and hazelnuts.

Wasabi Peas – £1.60
Roasted green peas with a punchy wasabi flavoured coating.

Something sweet

Percy Pig – £1.85
Soft fruit-flavoured gums made with fruit juice…an M&S classic.

Salted Caramel Hazelnut Millionaire Biscuit – £1.45
Made without wheat and deliciously gluten free.

Chocolate Pretzels and Candy Popcorn – £2.45
Milk chocolate-covered toffee popcorn with popping candy pieces.

Super Nut Fruit and Seed Flapjack – £1.45
Soft, chewy all-butter flapjack.

Drinks menu

Choose from a wide range of hot or cold drinks when travelling in our short haul economy cabins, Euro Traveller and UK Domestic, to and from London Heathrow and Gatwick.

Hot drinks

Java Republic Coffee – £2.30
Twinings Tea – £2.30
Cadburys Hot Chocolate – £2.70

Soft drinks

Pip Organic Orange & Apple Juice (200ml) – £2.70
Vita Coco Coconut Water (330ml) – £2.70
Folkington’s Elderflower Presse (250ml) – £2.20
Appletiser (275ml) – £1.80
Harrogate Still or Sparkling Water (500ml) – £1.80
Coca Cola or Diet Coke (330ml) – £1.80

Alcoholic drinks

Spirits (5cl mini bottles) – £4.50
Assorted range including Bombay Sapphire, Johnny Walker Red, Smirnoff Red, Baileys Irish Cream, Bacardi and Jack Daniels.

Mixers (150ml mini bottles) – £1.50
Assorted range including Schweppes tonic water, slimline tonic and ginger ale.

Red or white wine (187ml) – £4.50
Prosecco Bottega Gold (200ml) – £6.00
London Pride (330ml) – £4.00
Becks Lager (330ml) – £4.00
Magners Original Cider (330ml) – £4.00

Will I get free food as a British Airways status member?


Can I pay with Avios?

Yes you can.  British Airways sent me some sample ‘pay with Avios’ prices:

Mature cheddar cheese ploughman’s – £3 or 375 Avios

Lightly salted hand cooked crisps – £1 or 125 Avios

Water – £1.80 or 225 Avios

Tea or coffee – £2.30 or 300 Avios

G&T (Anika, please note 🙂 ) – £6 or 750 Avios

Wine – £4.50 or 575 Avios

It could have been less generous, I suppose. At around 0.8p per point there are worse ways to spend your points (but obviously far better ways too).

This topic will no doubt run and run, but I think I will call it a day for a while now.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (February 2023)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 21st February 2023, the sign-up bonus on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card is increased to 35,000 Avios from 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

35,000 Avios (ONLY to 21st February) and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (119)

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

  • Koshka says:

    Even SAS manages free tea and coffee. Food doesn’t bother me on a two hour flight but I like a basic drink.

  • Hugo says:

    You know, I wouldnt mind buy on board if someone just offered a decent -meal-

    The number of times I fly at dinner time the only ones I ever felt satisfied about were when I was able to pick up soup and main course take away at Lisbon airport from the restaurant next to the gate where LIS-LHR 8pm normally boarded

    It’s a real gap in the market that one for me…

  • Mark says:

    I’ve got an invite to an event at waterside next week which I really can’t attend but I’m now very tempted to try and get there to air a few comments on here.

    I don’t have status but if very surprised that golds don’t get a budget for onboard spend. It would go along way to keep the loyalists happy.

  • Andy says:

    The prices for Alcoholic drinks work out cheaper on easyjet

    G&T including Fever Tree tonic water – £5.60

    2 bottles of wine – £8

    2 cans of Old Speckled Hen, Becks, Magners – £7

  • MrHandBaggageOnly says:

    I am another person disappointed by this change. It’s true to say that the ‘food’ BA were offering on short-haul in ET had reached the point where it couldn’t get any worse, so buying something better if you’re hungry isn’t a terrible idea. (I should mention though that I thoroughly enjoyed my meal on the CityFlyer service between PMI and LCY this summer.) I can also see why BA would charge for alcohol on short flights, although I’m not pleased by the idea, but I am absolutely staggered by their decision to charge for non-alcoholic drinks. If Delta, AA and United can offer non-alcoholic drinks in Y I’m pretty sure BA can, but of course BA only have to match EasyJ and RyanAir, so they have no need to!

    I’m sure I’ll continue to use BA for some of my short flights, but being as close to BHX and BRS as I am LHR, means I’ll be looking much more closely at alternatives to BA going forward. My only booked BA trip post 11th Jan is in CE, so I’ll be waiting with interest to see what the ‘upgrade’ there is!

    P.S. I fear the next BA downgrade will see WT passengers having to pay for alcoholic drinks!

  • MrHandBaggageOnly says:

    Does anyone know what happened to the BA Tribute Ale deal? I was surprised to see London Pride appearing on the menu.

  • Simon says:

    Does this mean that someone (such as myself) who NEEDS to take medication at regular intervals will have to buy a bottle of water in order to take it? This issue is of extreme concern to me as I have once previously suffered this on a short haul Iberia flight in Economy and I had no money on me at all. The crew when finally faced with either having to declare a medical emergency and divert the plane or give me a free glass of water in order that I could takemy medication relented and provided me with water.

    • Paul says:

      They will still prove free portable water

      • tim says:

        The free water will be potable. If you want your water to be portable (ie in a bottle) you will have to pay 😉

    • Barry cutters says:

      extreme concern????
      If you know you need to take medicine regularly during the 1 to 5h short haul flight, for any pre booked flights you now have a minimum of 3 & 1/2 months to plan the fact you need to take a few pounds with you to buy a bottle of water at either the airport or onboard the plane.
      You can also fill out the form and get 1000 avios which will allow you to purchase water onboard with these points.
      If you have not already booked you have the the choice of many other airline which will also charge you for water.
      I see the frustration , i really do, but lets not blow this out of proportion and pretend its an issue for medical reasons. It clearly isn’t .
      As someone who requires medication regularly , i would suggest you plan ahead a little and look after yourself.
      sorry to be harsh

      • Simon says:

        Well – I once booked via BA website to travel to Spain and only when I got the airport did I realise that i was on Iberia metal. They REFUSED me water to take my medication (which on a 2 plus hour flight I needed) unless I paid for a bottle. Well I actually had no cash on me and they would not take a card for under a minimum amount.

        I finally told them that they had a choice – either let me have some water or in 30 minutes they would have to declare a medical emergency and divert the flight.

        I finally got some water.

        I complained to BA through whom I booked and they were so appalled that they gave me 10,000 ex gratia Avios.

        I have asked BA directly about this and they say that they will provide free water on Econ flights still.

        While on this subject I need to travel with medication and if away for more than a month I need quite a lot. All airlines advise you to carry this as carry on and they also advise you to carry all valuables (such as cameras etc) in the same way.

        Well I asked BA if they would allow me a small additional piece of carry luggage because of this – NO was the reply (enven through I was travelling in Business Class). I even escallated this ti the Chairman’s office because TWICE BA have lost my checked luggage.

        By contrast I know of two other airlines who WILL allow this even in Economy one is SAA and the other is Thompsons (yes the charter airline – whose Premium Economy service (apart from no flat beds) is at least as good and a third of the price of BA Business Class. Thompson’s Premium economy also gives you FREE Business Lounge access.

    • Scottydogg says:

      Do what I do (because i’m tight)
      Bring an Empty water bottle through security , when you are getting a coffee air side , ask them to fill up your water bottle from the tap , they are required to do this if you ask from any of the food outlets . Also if its Gatwick , there are 2 water fountains , they are not easy to find but they are there !
      I complained to Gatwick once about their lack of water fountains , in many airports ive been to around the world , water fountains are outside most toilet areas . But , when you read that the most sold item in the airport is WATER, then why would they want to give it away for free !

      • Chris says:

        Nice new water fountain in T5 at the top of the escalators after security. I used it for the first time to fill my bottle when I went through last weekend.

    • Emily says:

      You can take an empty water bottle through security and fill up air side. I’ve never had a problem with this and if the toilets only have warm water taps (which a lot seem to in airports these days – probably to force you to buy a drink!) then I usually find the lounge/cafe/restaurants are happy to fill it with cold tap water. Added benefit of saving the waste produced single use bottles of water.

  • keith says:

    ….OT I know…well sort of. The next thing will be that they will starting increasing the fuel surcharge as oil is creeping up in price. When the price of oil goes down it’s all ‘But we buy forward reserves at the old higher price’………when it goes up………..yeah right it kicks in almost immediately.

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