British Airways starts to cut the new Club World meal service – before it even gets rolled out

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If you haven’t had the chance to try the new British Airways Club World catering service yet, which is only on the Heathrow to New York JFK route, you’ve probably missed ‘peak’ new food.

According to cabin crew reports on Flyertalk, British Airways has already started to roll out the first series of cuts to the new service.

You are about to lose:

the salt and pepper shakers, which will be replaced by paper sachets (note that Virgin still has Wilbur and Orville in service after 20+ years)

the ‘three in one’ bread roll, which will be retained on JFK but replaced by standard rolls on other routes

the little olive oil bottles, which will only be available on request (assuming you know they exist)

The 2nd small grey pillow is also being removed from the new The White Company bedding.

We are told to expect more changes, because the time taken to serve the meal at present is not sustainable on busy A380 routes and on longer routes where there is a crew shift change.

The good news ….

…. is that the new catering continues to be rolled out, albeit slowly.

January is expected to see:

  • Chicago
  • New York Newark
  • Washington Dulles
  • Boston
  • Philadelphia
  • Baltimore

added.  The new bedding will also appear more widely, including some Middle East routes, but there really is no excuse for the slow roll out here as handing out blankets does not involve major crew retraining ….

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  1. Some thoughts on these comments…
    – the salt and pepper pots and small cushions are being removed because customers have been stealing them in large numbers and BA doesn’t want to increase fares to compensate
    – the longer flights will suffer with the current service style because legislation mandates a certain crew rest. For those asking why it’s not an issue on EK/QR… well that’s obvious isn’t it? I’d rather fly on an airline where crew welfare is maintained, thank you
    – it was always intended that JFK would be a test bed, that’s why the full rollout wasn’t planned till this year, and they publicly stated it wasn’t yet set in stone

    • Utter nonsense in my view and a disgraceful slur on those airlines to suggest they are any less safe than BA. Moreover if crew welfare were such an issue the service standards simply could not be maintained. You really need to experience what these crew deliver and how they do it, with style and professionalism, rather than listen to trade union scare mongering.

      Wake up BA employee. The fares ex Heathrow are the highest in Western Europe. So the idea that the loss of a few salt and pepper pots could impact £5000 fares is balderdash. It’s cost cutting and laziness, pure and simple and will only change when BA comfortable protected status at LHR is broken. Till then we have to put up with the crap BA and it’s crew deliver

    • Some thoughts on your comments:

      – why can Virgin maintain salt and pepper pots and BA can’t?
      – BA managed a far more impressive meal service when it was still a premium airline (and when legislation wasn’t too different) so why can’t it step up now?
      – I’m not sure what BA found out on the JFK route that’s resulted in the change to the bread it offers or that has resulted in the olive oil being removed from view but it’s unlikely to be anything that couldn’t have been foreseen before the service was introduced (I’m guessing it’s a cost thing)….so why wasn’t it foreseen?

    • Phil Gollings says:

      Legislation says ‘adequate’ rest. Assuming the crew havent done a day job, then what rest would be adequate for an 11 hour night shift ? Having no one around for hours (from four at the start of the flight) seems excessive to me.
      I would assume crew are ‘rested’ before and after a long haul ?

      • Couple of half hours breaks under WTR – wish I’d consistently got that much rest on nightshift – more like quick 10 min gap to grab some water and sandwich at some point!

      • Interesting – on a 12 hour shift in an office-based environment I have to have 2 x 30 minute breaks. And that is it.

        Before anyone else says: yes, I *am* making life or death decisions which will impact on others’ safety, wellbeing & even existence.

      • Actually, legislation dictates the maximum length of a crew member’s ‘duty day’, which counts from report (90mins prior to departure) to the point at which they leave the aircraft after everyone has got off. And for flights over a certain length, this day can only be extended with the use of a certain amount of time spent with ‘available horizontal rest’. This covers pretty much anything further than about Delhi.

        For the avgeeks among you, you’ll notice that the VII* range of 777-200ERs never operate the long range flights, despite technically being able to. This is why – they don’t have crew bunks, so if they did, enough J seats would have to be blocked for crew that it would be uneconomical.

        And for the record, neither BA nor its unions makes these rules, they’re determined by EASA.

    • Thank you Alex Cruz (or alternatively one of his loyal corporate disciples) for attempting to justify your and Willy’s usual extreme penny pinching mean spiritedness that has also seen Club legroom on an Airbus A320 slashed this year to only the same miserable 30 inches pitch as in Economy (and that’s even for somoen who’s tallness is only in my neck and torso and who only has a standard 31 inch inside leg despite my 6ft 3in of height) – see for proof.

      Also can I assume that now that the Fizz in Club Europe on a flight only comes in a glass with no bottle in sight that it has been secretly downgraded to Cava from Champagne? And that’s before we get on to other issues such as the large well located (with excellent views of the airfield that cannot be faulted) Business lounge in Prague doing no hot food of any kind at at all at 5pm in the evening, the fruit as usual in the BA offered Club lounge only being a crappy orange or apple (i.e. 1970s budget fruit that lasts forever with not a single strawberry, raspberry, blackcurrant, kiwi, cherry or mango in sight as is also always true in Heathrow T5) and nothing approaching scones or cakes during afternoon tea time (which might have possibly excused no hot food had they been available at this time of day).

      Fortunately I only have these sporadic dismal Club Europe experiences after having paid the extra £7.50 Avios redemption fee over the Economy equivalent but of course the further 4,500 Avios (in this case but for other destinations it could be 7,500 or 10,000 more Avios) should also be valued at £45 if not more. The on board food from Prague to LHR at 6.30pm on 1st Jan was also a total joke with no starter and the so called duck salad consisting of three ultra tiny slivers of meat with about 80 calories in total plus a load of inedible shredded salad and yucky Sauerkraut. Also the member of cabin staff held out on even offering this choice at all until I complained strongly that I didn’t fancy the sole choice of chicken breast and roast vegetables that she was offering me. The desert was also only some dry and untasty slab of chocolate cake.

      So anyway although I know you do better than that for legroom and to some extent also the food in Club World my point is that your service is also being downgraded there too and you still only get to use the same crappy Club lounges that give you only a baked potato and some swilling chilli or chinese chicken in a large unappetising vat at Heathrow T5 and at other Club lounges the food choice is less than that and in general significantly inferior to the main restaurant in most modern motorway service areas.

      So although it has been interesting to do more redeeming than just collecting of my Avios in Club Europe over the last three years (mainly thanks to both to Head To Points and also due to BA making more Club seats available for redemption short haul than was once the case) my end conclusion is I can’t see why anyone would pay some of the massive cash fares that BA charges (up to £700 one way for a flight of generally no more than two hours) for this service and that if having to pay real money to buy the flight the best option generally seems to be to travel with Norwegian (wherever possible, so basically only if travelling to or from LGW) and buy a Boots Meal Deal before boarding the aircraft. Norwegian of course also offer free wifi on all their planes ,unlike BA who are taking forever to roll it out and who then also plan to charge for it at a level that will stop most non business customers from using it!

      • the real harry1 says:

        yep I guess very few people actually pay £600-£700 though the return Business fare is usually cheaper than the single

        I usually have a little snort of derision at the stupidity of people who have paid good money for Club Europe as I pass them on my way to my free Exit seat – got it again on the 2nd Jan

        I would probably have a derisory doggy widdle on them if I could get away with it – which I obviously can’t, so it’s all in the mind

        fair play to points people, though – on the assumption you sank a few in the lounge

      • no bottle in sight that it has been secretly downgraded to Cava from Champagne?

        In all seriousness if you need sight of the bottle to know what does it matter?

        • Of course it matters if its Champagne or not as that’s the whole point of feeling that travelling Club Europe is something special. But as BA Club Europe now offers no extra leg room for up to several hundred pounds per ticket extra compared to Monarch’s only £39 or so extra for real extra legroom then what exactly is the point of the product?

          As it happens on the way out to Prague I travelled in Economy (I only booked Club on the way back as no Economy Avios redemption seats were available for the very good reason that the cabin was absolutely chock full of Czech’s on their way back to London after the Christmas and New Year break) but as there were only about 30 people on the plane on the way out and strangely none of them had chosen to pay £30 extra for an extra legroom seat I was then able to upgrade myself to extra legroom for free by the simple expedient of boarding the plane last.

          To make matters better still all of us in Economy were then offered a free glass of champagne both because the New Year was imminent and because apparently BA still refills the plane with Champage/Cava on each flight regardless of the actual expected passenger load (in this case a total of one Club Europe passenger out of a possible 24 seats). Of course no doubt once Alex the Slasher gets to hear of this bean counting omission he will both make sure that in future anyone sitting in the Emergency Exit rows has to show their boarding pass and also that in future Cabin Crew have to account for every single bottle of fizz that they open.

          So anyway the only reason for travelling Club is because frequently its the only way to get a redemption seat on a particular flight. But then having the chance to sample the Club service and noting that some corporates still pay quite a lot of money to book their business bods in to these seats at the last moment it is just interesting to find how little one has actually been missing out on for all these years.

          Having said that it was clearly a rather better quality of service in the past but it does seem odd that having so extensively downgraded the physical product that BA has made precisely no effort at all to also cap off the ridiculously high prices it charges for Club Europe fares booked less than 72 hours or so before departure.

      • You do realise that the lounge at PRG is not a BA lounge per se, but operated by Menzies and open to priority pass etc?

        Presumably you were the guy berating the desk agents for 10 minutes about lack of hot food in a voice loud enough for the whole lounge to hear? And then again whilst pouring drinks, moaning about the lemons being sliced too thick, how Willie Walsh is an accountant and how CE doesn’t meet your expectations? Judging by the eye rolling from the other occupants, that was a bigger downer on the lounge experience for other guests than the facilities 🙂 And yes, I was there…

        Apologies if this wasn’t you, in which case you missed a potential soul mate on that fight 😉

      • Anthony Dunn says:

        Julian: I guess some who book at the eleventh hour and need total flexibility will be paying £600-700 but, I suspect, the majority (as I do) pay nowhere near that amount – and not several hundreds of pounds extra over and above a Monarch fare. BTW, the Monarch’s route network would have taken you mainly to the bucket and spade destinations of southern Europe/north Africa – somewhat limiting.

        En route to Palermo just before Christmas, the duck salad was delicious and it came not with any kind of sauerkraut but with a celeriac coleslaw that was extremely tasty. The bubbles from a bottle was champagne and NOT Cava. And no, there was no dispensing meter attached to the neck of the bottle limiting the number and frequency of pours.

        You give a very strong impression of seeing the glass half-empty and given your clear perspective on BA, in your shoes, I would do myself a favour and take my custom (and complaints) elsewhere. After all, it’s only hard numbers such as RASK that matter to the IAG bean counters currently running the show – and delivering the kind of profitability that most other carriers would drool over. For myself, I have followed Rob’s (and other’s) advice by using BA Holidays to minimise price whilst maxing on benefits for continental European travel. Thereafter, anything further afield to Asia and it’s either CX, QF or QR.

    • What utter crap! I would love a job where I work 6 days a month and work for 7-9 hours AND have rest in between. BA are comical! Pathetic and really sad.

  2. If you are a customer and not a shareholder then BA are a 3 star airline with a 1 star management team. I have many problems with BA but the worst is the outlook. BA are now going to spend £600m to improve CW, when? They can’t do the simple stuff, group boarding 12th Dec 17, what happened to that? New blankets and bedding as Rob says that’s not difficult. The food is poor to mediocre (including F) the attitude of cabin crew isn’t what it was, it is much more hit and miss now. Given how BA is with it’s customers I’m sure that working for them leaves a lot to be desired.
    So BA takes 3-5 years to improve CW to be what? Worse than QR are today? My wife liked the QR 787 and LOVED the Q suite, so it’s more QR/AA and less BA. It saddens me but I’m not convinced down the line that BA will be any better than they are now.

    • second that

    • Anthony Dunn says:

      Oh dear. If BA had a 1-star management team, can you explain just how they have managed to deliver some of the (consistently) most impressive financial figures of any legacy carrier? It doesn’t happen by magic albeit IAG has exploited its “Fortress Heathrow” to the maximum. Personally, I now either employ the continental dogleg or use AMS, OSL or CPH as an O&D point because LHR and ZRH are clearly the most expensive O&D points in Europe and I am averse to lining BA shareholders’ pockets with my cash.

      There really is a need for a sense of proportion in discussing BA and its strengths and weaknesses. BTW, I am neither employed by IAG/BA or any of its suppliers nor am I (directly) a BA shareholder, I pay my own fares and I do use other OneWorld carriers.

  3. 3 star airline – as awarded by skytrax too I believe. 12DEC was a stupid date to roll out group boarding to be fair. Coincided with sleet/snow/fog and a massive swathe of cancellations and rebookings. Then we went into the mass Christmas migration. BA should have just set it for mid January in the first place (which I believe is when it is finally being rolled out).
    I’m in no doubt BA crew are being stretched and stretched to the limit. It makes me roll my eyes on here when people compare surly BA crews who are never to be seen against their smiley and professional counterparts on Qatar or Emirates. The main difference between BA and the middle eastern offerings is the cabin crew compliment. BA assigns as few as 7 crew to a 787-8 for example. Qatar assign 12 I believe. I’d like to see Qatar do so their 5* service with just 7 crew. It simply wouldn’t happen. BA adapting the service style to fit what is physically possible in a set amount of time with a lower crew compliment could be what is happening and perhaps the initial JFK service was proving too much to accomplish. Not sure what’s going with The White Company if anything. Roll out to routes other than JFK was only ever to be from 2018 anyway. Given we’re only a week in, I’d be prepared to cut some slack for that. As for continuing to fly AA/QR then be BA’s guest – due to the joint ventures and codeshares entered into ex London with these carriers, BA will still take their cut of your fare – they don’t need to be better for as long as seats sell, which they appear to be doing.

  4. My thoughts are that if they cannot dole out the meals in the premium cabins on a A380 then it is surely due to the much higher density versus the ME3 ?

    However, given such high density, surely there should be more staff, to equalise the time delays ?

    Also, given the higher density, surely there is more money to pay these extra staff ?

    I simply won’t pay the premium for the density on BA. I mean, 8 abreast in business class and they want higher prices than the ME3 ?

  5. OT (no bits today): I want to put more and more utilities etc bills on paypoint/pay online to be able to use AMEX. Is there a master list of which ones accept Paypoint/ Amex online?

    • I doubt that there is a list, but you can ask BT for a payment card to use at Coop PayPoints.
      Many local councils do the same (but not all).

      • Thanks. I think EDF does it too. I’m with EON but haven’t seen any Paypoint info on their website although they do say you can pay bill online.

        • online is very different from PayPoint: often you can only use Visa/Mastercard.

        • Spark energy take amex and EE

        • Publius says:

          >Spark energy take amex and EE
          I was going to reply that no, Spark don’t take Amex, but after logging in just now, I see that while indeed they dont take Amex, they _do_ take PayPal which appears to allow Amex through that method!

          So thanks, I’ve learned something today!

    • Try this. Not great in terms of updates but can be a useful website.

    • You need to contact each of your suppliers and ask if they issue PP cards. Or if they issue a bill with a bar code to scan
      As Mark says bt send one SSE do Affinity Water etc
      Usually people update on posts like this.

  6. OT. I currently have the Virgin Atlantic white credit card.

    Just wondering what to do with upcoming Virgin Money credit cards about to hit the market.

    Do you think it would be better to cancel the white card now and see what VM have to offer? Or just keep the white card going?

    Not sure if VM would treat me as a “new” customer or not for offers etc?


    • the real harry1 says:

      it’s a simple decision: just cancel asap (provided you hit your introductory bonus) as the card offers no particular advantages vs others

      this leaves you free to do other stuff

      only downside is: cancelling any credit card negatively impacts your credit rating for a couple of months, ie don’t cancel if you are planning soon to get a big loan/ mortgage

      • Delbert says:

        I don’t recall cancelling a credit card impacting a credit score. Taking up new credit does, though.

        • Age of credit lines is a factor. So if you close a card, instead of keeping it open, it reduces the average age of your credit lines. This can have a negative impact, so it’s good to keep some accounts open long term.

    • You will be a new customer so no pressure to cancel. May be worth keeping old cards due to generous Amex.

  7. OT – Looking for a hotel for me and my girlfriend in London late Feb for our anniversary. Does anyone have any recommendations that will benefit from the Gold status that I have through the AMEX Plat Charge card please? Ideally looking around the £200 mark or less. TIA

    • The Amex statuses are all mid tier without much in the way of guaranteed benefit (free brekky with Hilton Gold is good).

      Use Amex Plat to book a Fine Hotels & Resorts hotel instead. Free brekky, £85 to spend in hotel,guaranteed 4pm check out and upgrade if available at check in. Great package for a 1 night stay.

      • Thanks Rob, just had a look in London for that night and unfortunately a little out of my price range. I was thinking that a Hilton could be a good option because of the breakfast.

        • Conrad London is good, pretty classy and free breakfast as Hilton Gold. The only thing I wish it had was a pool! Depending on day of the week etc rates can be had for the low £200s (I also got a night for £100 once using best rate guarantee) and I think it’s quite nice for an anniversary as it’s a little more upmarket than a Hilton. Having said that, Hilton Bankside is really lovely and I was very well looked after when I told them it was my birthday and the rooms are new and very nice. Miles ahead of most of your other generic Hiltons. Those would be my two suggestions for HH properties in London, don’t know much of the other chains.

        • I can second the recommendation for the Hilton Bankside – if the Conrad is still over budget, you should be able to get this for under £200. Really lovely hotel, and good breakfast.

    • Intentionally Blank says:

      Hilton Bankside, or Doubletree Tower of London. Has one of the best roof bars in London, and a great place if you like Gin!

  8. Salt and pepper cut ages ago for cost
    Pillow stollen far too much
    Bread is only made by DO&CO in London only, and they don’t supply all routes.

    • The salt and pepper has been cut because of issues over the crew refilling them, apparently. Whether crew are complaining or BA thinks it is too much of a strain I don’t know.

      • Duck Ling says:

        Crew have never had to refill salt and pepper shakers. This is done by caterers.

  9. On recent trips in F the attitude of the crew has been noticeable in that they clearly are out to do the minimum possible. Get the dinner service done ASAP then head to crew rest and leave behind one member of crew reading a magazine. No drink top ups, forget requests, bare CW pantry. Underwhelming. In CE one crew took meal and drink orders and then served them individually walking back n forth to the galley, took 40 mins to get served in CE cabin on a GLA to LHR.

    • Quite often the way in CE where passenger load dictates the crew compliment. An Airbus A319 for example operates with 3 crew unless the CE load exceeds 32 when a 4th is triggered. Chances are if CE was lightly loaded then then the third worked BoB behind the curtain while the senior worked CE on their own. And if exceptionally quiet on very short flights, it is not uncommon for the crew to conduct the CE service tray by tray doing drinks at the same as opposed to wheeling the food cart up and down the aisle to then follow up with drinks after. Would make for a disjointed service don’t you think (given the total number of crew available) ?

      • Id suggest that 2 crew in CE could serve a full cabin in a matter of minutes and could then forget about CE with one crew to clear up, which is what happened in the old days before BOB. One crew member trying to serve a full CE cabin doesn’t work, especially when passengers make extra requests which which result in another trip to the galley. By extra requests I mean, by example, not wanting tea or coffee but water etc or a passenger changing their mind /order. The result is a very slow service.

  10. Funny how other airline crew can offer full service on similar length flights. Just another BA farce. ABBA

  11. AV Consultant says:

    The pilot period of new Catering on JFK routes was to prove out operational efficiency and customer demand/use of the new product. The stats drive the decisions which drive the cost savings and efficiency. That second pillow was annoying anyway!

    BA cannot compete with the Gulf based public sector airlines, and for now, it doesn’t need to. When you’re network and code shares are as strong as BA’s, and when you have a cartel over the North Atlantic with AA, and IB, you’re on to a winner. IAG are clever, very clever.

    We’ll need to wait for the likes of easyJet and others to move into the LHR extra capacity…..whenever that happens. Until then, products like easyJet worldwide will evolve (Emirates pulled out as carrying your own bag was part of their desired Customer Experience), and this will challenge the network BA has. easyJet having arguable a stronger network than BA.

    But, remember, the Low Cost Carriers have forced this on BA – economy Short Haul is a commodity now, so why would the legacy carriers incur such high legacy costs for products they don’t need to provide.

    • But why is it a commodity? Why can I choose between the bus and a Mercedes S-Class to get to the airport (which another load of intermediate options) and between a hostel and a 5-star luxury hotel when I land (with another load of intermediate options) but apparently the market only sustains one model of air transport? I don’t buy it.

      Let’s imagine there are 20 flights a day to Warsaw from London, so about 3000 seats. There are, clearly, a lot of people in that 3000 who are purely price driven and will book the cheapest possible fare together with the cheapest possible route to the airport. There is also, logically, a top end of people who are not price sensitive, together with a large group in the middle who would be ok to pay a bit more for a bit better service. It begins to look like market failure to me.

  12. Duck Ling says:

    Just a couple points –

    JFK was selected as the rollout route for two reasons. The most important factor was there is a large Do&Co facility located both at Heathrow and JFK. This was important for what is essentially a test and review phase. Whilst the new product has been operating on the JFK, chefs from Do&Co have been travelling to all the other caterers located throughout the world to liase on the product that these other caterers will load on inbound flights. The second reason is simple – it’s BA’s biggest route by revenue. The rollout will continue to follow these two factors – ORD is the next route as it has a DO&Co kitchen and is a large revenue earner. Followed by the rest of the US routes.

    @ Rob – this is incorrect. The crew do not and never have had to refill the salt and pepper shakers. This was a catering task.

  13. Trouble is all the time BA’s solutions to fixing minor operational problems are those that would be adopted by a Low Cost Carrier yet at the same time they want to play the game of being a prestige flag carrier based at Heathrow and charging exorbitantly high fares that far outstrip those levied by their higher service level Middle and Far Eastern airline rivals.

    Someone should send Alex The Slasher back to Vueling where he quite clearly belongs before he totally destroys what’s left of the BA brand.

    • Demote him to LEVEL, not Vueling – VY don’t want him there either!

      At least LEVEL doesn’t have a brand reputation yet; let Cruz go do his dastardly experiments there.

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