The roll back of the cutbacks continues. British Airways announced some fairly substantial changes to World Traveller (long haul economy) catering yesterday, albeit that the changes simply restore the existing position from a couple of years ago.
(Don’t get too carried away. As per my article on Sunday, the new Club World catering is apparently being cut back before it even got rolled out beyond the JFK route …..)
Among other things, ice cream is back and you will once again receive a full bottle of water rather than the tiny ‘cuplet’.
The press release is concise and clearly written so I will simply reproduce it in full. My thoughts are at the bottom.
The first flight with the new catering will be the BA117 from Heathrow to New York JFK departing at 8.25am on 17th January.
British Airways is today announcing a multi-million pound investment in its World Traveller (long-haul economy cabin) catering, introducing an exciting and expanded new menu, which provides more quantity and quality to both meals and great snacking options throughout the flight.
Options now include:
· Pretzels with the welcome drink
· Four-course meal with starter, main, dessert, cheese and biscuits, accompanied by a bread roll and bottle of water
· Second meal or substantial snack depending on the length of the flight
· Regional meal options served according to destination
· Magnum ice-creams
· Tuck box with chocolates and crisps
· Hot breakfast on longer overnight flights
· Graze movie-snack box on longer* flights
· Complimentary drinks from the bar
Previously customers travelling in the cabin were served a complimentary snack, a three-course-meal or a light meal, depending on the time and length of their flight as well as a complimentary bar service of hot and cold drinks.
The new catering arrives from January 17, and the menus that will change every six months.
Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ director of brand and customer experience, said: “Our customers tell us that when they’re taking a long-haul flight, great food and beverages make a real difference to them. It’s a huge driver of customer satisfaction so we want to make sure we deliver a great experience. With this multi-million pound investment we’ve focused on introducing more quantity and quality to the catering, delivering tasty meals and great snacking options throughout the flight.
“Our new four-course main meal has been developed by our team of chefs to be full of flavour at 35,000ft and we’ve created regional options depending on the route. The second meal option is either a tasty sandwich or a more substantial pizza wrap, both served with additional snacks, depending on the length of the flight.”
“Our customers have also told us they want to be able to save some items for later in the flight, so we’ve replaced the water cup with a bottle of Highland Spring on the first meal, and added Graze snack boxes on our longest flights. We’re also offering Magnum ice-creams on daylight flights from London and a Tuck Box on inbound and overnight flights.”
The airline’s customers will be welcomed with pretzels and a drink. Once they are settled in, they will be served a four-course meal such as a starter of couscous salad, followed by a main course of chicken casserole with an ale sauce, colcannon mash and seasonal vegetables, or a vegetarian tomato, farfalle and vegetable dish. Dessert will be a Pots & Co salted caramel and chocolate mousse, followed by biscuits and cheese. The meal will be accompanied by a bread roll and a bottle of Highland Spring water.
On the shorter daylight long-haul flights to destinations such as New York and Dubai, fliers will also receive a sandwich such as egg and cress with a chocolate or Nutri-Grain bar. Those on longer daylight flights to destinations such as Cape Town and Hong Kong will receive a hot meal, such as a pizza wrap or a regional option, with a pot of pasta, a chocolate brownie and a drink as well as a smokehouse BBQ crunch Graze movie-snack box. A hot English breakfast will also be served on these longer flights that operate overnight.
Customers on daylight flights from London will be offered a range of Magnum ice-creams, while those on night flights will be offered a tuck-box with options such as Dairy Milk Buttons, Twix, Kit-Kats and Mini Cheddars, which will also be available in the galley for them to help themselves to.
The airline is also serving regional main meal options around its network, such as chicken in spicy cheng du sauce on flights to and from to China, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea, kathrikai milagu seeragam and channa dal on flights to and from Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai and acchari veg and dal palak on flights to and from Bangalore and Delhi. On flights to the Middle East (Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia,) customers can enjoy chicken in spicy Arabic sauce.
Regional breakfasts will also be served including Chicken Congee for Far Eastern routes and an Indian option featuring: Idli Shanna, Sambhar, upma and dosa.
The popular meal options for customers with special dietary requirements will continue to be available to book on ba.com/managemybooking more than 24 hours ahead of their flight departing.
Travellers looking for a special treat can also pre-order meals on flights from Heathrow up to 24-hours before their flight. Options include a Gourmet Dining meal for £18.00, Taste of Britain and Taste of the Far East for £16.00 and a Great British Breakfast, a Healthy Choice meal or a Vegetarian Kitchen option all for £15.00.
British Airways is investing £4.5 billion for customers over the next five years, covering the installation of the best quality WiFi and power in every seat, fitting 128 long-haul aircraft with new interiors and taking delivery of 72 new aircraft. The airline is also investing £600m specifically in Club World, including outstanding catering and luxurious White Company bedding – plus, from 2019, a new seat with direct aisle access. This year British Airways will start services to six new routes including Nashville and The Seychelles.
· *The airline’s longest flights serve: Bangkok, Beijing, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Chennai, Hong Kong, Hyderabad, Johannesburg, Kuala Lumpur, Las Vegas, Lima, Los Angeles, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico City, Narita, Oakland, Phoenix, Rio de Janeiro, San Jose (California), San Jose (Costa Rica), Santiago, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo (Haneda and Narita).
I’m not sure about you, but I was staggered to discover that “Our customers tell us that when they’re taking a long-haul flight, great food and beverages make a real difference to them”. On the other hand, two years ago apparently customers told BA that they would prefer lower economy fares via cutbacks in food and drink offerings. You just can’t trust what those pesky customers say, it seems.
To be serious, though, this does seem very positive. It also implies that there will be no move to long-haul ‘buy on board’ catering, at least for a couple of years.
We will know if it has worked if BA’s Net Promoter Score (basically BA’s preferred method of calculating customer satisfaction) starts being reported again in investor presentations!
The problem is that good news makes a more boring press story than bad news so these changes are likely to take longer to filter through to the general public than the news about the cuts. We try to be even handed on HfP but I doubt this press release will get a half page in the Daily Mail. The climb back up the hill will take a lot longer than the slide down.
I wonder if the response to our ‘win two Economy flights to New York on the airline of your choice’ competition would have been different if it had launched this week. You still have 48 hours to enter that, by the way – click the link.
Things are picking up though. Next stop – an overhaul of Club Europe food in April ….
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