New BA Club Europe catering starts Sunday – with some hot meals scrapped

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The much heralded improvements to British Airways Club Europe catering begin tomorrow, Sunday.

That said, it certainly isn’t improvements all round – some popular routes are having their hot meals removed.

Let’s look at what is happening.

Club Europe flights are currently grouped into four bands, with a different catering option for each.  These four bands are being regrouped into Very Short, Short, Medium and Long.  These groupings do NOT match the current Band 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 arrangement which is why some routes are losing hot meals.

British Airways Club Europe catering changes

Very Short

Only Leeds Bradford, Manchester and Jersey fall into this band.  You will receive a hot bacon roll, fruit and yoghurt for breakfast (Jersey retains the hot breakfast) and a cold plate for the rest of the day (09.30+ departures).

Short and Medium

‘Short’ covers routes as far as Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Bordeaux and Milan.  ‘Medium’ covers routes as far out as Oslo, Bologna, Zagreb, Porto, Madrid and Bologna.

These routes will receive:

  • Breakfast (to 09.29) – the current hot breakfast
  • Brunch (09.30 – 10.59) – a large hot roll or a cold meat plate
  • Lunch (11.00 – 13.59) – salad or a hot sandwich
  • Afternoon tea (14.00 – 16.59) – cold ‘finger’ sandwiches or a ploughman’s salad (no idea what that is!) with tea cake.  No more scones!
  • Dinner (17.00+) – salad or a hot sandwich

On Medium routes, there will be snacks and a bar round before Lunch and Dinner.


‘Long’ is basically everything including, and beyond, Lisbon, Ibiza, Rome, Budapest, Krakow and Stockholm.

  • Breakfast (departures up to 09.29) – a hot breakfast
  • Rest of the Day – a two course meal with two choices of hot main course.

On the longest of the Long routes, liqueurs will now be offered alongside tea and coffee.

New service standards:

  • Club World crockery to be introduced, although glasses will remain the same as present
  • You now get a mug for your tea or coffee
  • Wine and champagne to be served from full-size bottles on Medium and Long routes
  • Trays are being reduced in size, because meals will be served as separate courses

The feedback I have had from people who have seen the demos of the new crockery is very positive.

Who wins here?

Flyers on Short and Medium routes now receive a choice of meals at all times outside breakfast.

Those flying on Long routes which were originally Band 4, outside of the breakfast period, gain an appetiser.

The real winners are those who are currently on Band 3B flights such as Gibraltar, Helsinki or Lisbon – these flights will become Long and so gain a hot meal.  There will be no more afternoon tea on these services.

Who loses here?

My personal view is that removing the scones from Afternoon Tea is a downgrade, especially as my interest in a Ploughman’s salad or BA’s cold finger sandwiches is very low.  I accept that the scones were not popular with a lot of passengers, however.

The big losers are those flying Club Europe on routes of approximately two hours.  These routes are losing their hot meal service to be replaced with a salad or hot sandwich.

The routes losing the hot meal include (I think) Barcelona, Bologna, Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Innsbruck, Mllan, Nice, Oslo, Palma, Pisa, Porto, Prague, Salzburg, Venice, Vienna, Verona and Zagreb.

I am a little thrown by the logic of this, to be honest.  There are high yield business routes on that list which are seeing hot meals cut off, whilst some predominantly lower yield leisure routes are seeing hot meals introduced.

Let’s see how it all plays out.  I don’t have a Club Europe in the diary until May so please post your feedback here if you are flying on Sunday or early next week.

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  1. Flew LGW from Malta today and experienced the new service on its launch day. Biggest losers are the crew – they were rushed off their feet as not only were they continuously topping up glasses from full size bottles of fizz and wine but they also had to serve the mains separately to the appetiser due to the new smaller tray size. As passengers, it did feel more attentive (could so easily go the other way) but we were perfectly happy with the old system and extremely conscious that the superb crew didn’t get a break. Order of service was menus first on new cheaper feeling single card format with food on the front and drinks on the back. Hot towels next so we could do our own (unpaid) cleaning followed by the magazine service which we have never experienced in short/medium haul before but the choice was very good. Drinks service next – JW Black Label is now the only whisky and sadly, the Glenlivet has been enhanced away. Coke is back after the short-lived Pepsi. New smaller trays with appetiser next – smoked salmon and creme fraiche and very nice too with dessert, cheese and limp crackers (but better than the old “savoury snackettes”). Warm rolls were offered separately from a basket as before. Main meal service next – slightly overdone but still pleasant chicken or vegetarian curry (looked like the chicken ran out rapidly!). My partner was a little slow with the starter and therefore completely forgotten for the main and had to ask for it 20 minutes later – CSM was horrified and very apologetic but it’s easy to forget this when you’re jogging backwards and forwards with mains for 30 people. The linen napkin remains on the tray and still wraps the cutlery but the small plastic sachet with salt, pepper and refreshing towel has been enhanced away. Wines were pleasant (Tempranillo or Syrah for red lovers) in slightly larger glasses than before but could be annoying if the crew prefer not to share and hide behind the curtain (not in our case thankfully!). Brandy is still served but not sure if it was Otard as it was poured behind the curtain before serving and absent from the drinks menu. Tea and coffee is now served in mugs and much better in our opinion. Overall quality of food was very good but then we’ve noticed a considerable improvement over the last year (apart from the daft afternoon tea which is served after 18:00 on flights departing just before 17:00 and a poor substitute for a much needed hot meal – the 16:55 HEL-LHR service being a prime example and that’s if it’s on time). We chatted with the crew about the new intensity of the service from their point of view and they said they didn’t mind as it made the time pass quicker but it did feel rather odd from an airline with such a focus on efficiency. Just a guess but I’d imagine the crew with a long day such as LGW-PFO-LGW and no layover won’t be quite so jolly about it but then as with all flights, it’s down to the individual crew members who create the passenger experience.

  2. George n says:

    Just flew szg – lgw in clubc europe.

    Disappointed the two course menu was removed, the cheese and ham toastie doesn’t quite compare. Champagne now served from a 750ml bottle (rather than a personal mini bottle means you get the whole bottle if you’re the only person drinking champagne mmm)

  3. Graham B says:

    Flew LHR- CPH-LHR this week. Extremely disappointed by the lack of hot dinner service on the return flight. Full plane, almost exclusively management types flying back at the end of the working day. Expressions of disbelief / humour from many pax at the paucity of the so-called chicken salad or ciabatta roll. BA are nuts using flight duration to determine the meal service. They should look at the number of premium pax on the route, – virtually every passenger on this flight had exec club gold or silver tags on their cabin bags. A rapid rethink is needed.

  4. Adam Cunard says:

    I have just taken the LGW – ALC – LGW had the new service, we and we got a full hot meal, was a massive improvement, but my friends has just been to Munich not as far but same flight time and got the cut down food. Has any one flown LGW or LHR to BCL (Barcelona) as its similar to Malaga or Alicante, but form the article its thought the meal has been cut, can anyone advice?

  5. Flew on my weekly flight back from Milan and had the tiny one prawn , small chicken coronation salad and a really tough slice of dried chicken. You would pay £5 in costa coffee for it and feel upset. It’s a shock that the flight prices are very high for this flight and I now can’t see the benefit. Would probably rather pay in economy for the better food. Terrible way to treat loyal premium paying customers.

  6. Had the cold meat plate FRA-LHR yesterday. A very small meal indeed that tasted very good however, Had the Castelnau champagne as well. I’m a very modest eater when flying so this was good for me but I can imagine not nearly enough for many others.

  7. Flew Prague -> LHR yesterday, 1 hot Panini (which was dreadful) and some nuts. Fairly unimpressed with the food. Can’t believe this is a premium service.

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