Is BA’s new Club World catering essentially a big con?

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If you are flying to London from Hong Kong in Club World today, you will have received the ‘new’ Club World meal service for the first time.

This was, as you may remember from the glossy British Airways launch event last year, to be provided by Austrian group Do&Co.  Do&Co is the gold standard of airline catering, and is the reason why Austrian Airlines business class has such an outstanding reputation for its food.

The new Club World meal service is being added to additional routes as the weeks go on.  Whilst I had heard a few reports about poor quality, it wasn’t clear to me why.

A crew member on Flyertalk has now spilled the beans.  Apart from New York JFK, the food is generally unchangedApart from New York JFK and the odd outstation, the primary food provider remains Gate Gourmet and not Do&Co.

British Airways Club World catering

“The same food arranged differently on new china” is how the crew member describes it.  It is worth noting that this poster is a respected and long-serving member of Flyertalk.  He also feels let down, because even cabin crew did not have this explained to them during the training process.  They were also expecting to be serving food of the New York JFK standard on other routes.

(Remember that a photo from a crew training session posted online showed Bollinger champagne being served.  Good luck tracking that down.)

He also claims that the amount of food loaded has also been decreased in recent weeks as a % of passengers booked, so there is less chance of being able to have the first choice of food.

Now, the more cynical among you may not be surprised by these ‘allegations’.  (Are they ‘allegations’ really?  It is a statement of fact that Gate Gourmet remains the food supplier and there is little sense that much has improved in terms of quality.)   However, with all the talk of “£400m investment” (a sum now increased to £600m) you would have expected something to be delivered.  It seems not.

Another cabin crew member I contacted has confirmed the story. That person did feel that there had been a little improvement over what Gate Gourmet was previously providing but that the JFK route food used in all of the PR is far superior.

I also heard an interesting story about why Club Europe catering is being changed again.  I would like further corroboration on this before I write about it, so if you work for BA and know what I am talking about then drop me an email just to reassure me.  ‘Seven’ is the magic word I believe ….

Some good news on the bedding though

The roll-out of the new The White Company bedding is continuing, albeit at a snails pace.

From 21st February, it will be available on:  Atlanta, Dubai, Hong Kong, Washington, Houston, Kuwait, Los Angeles, Johannesburg, Philadelphia, Riyadh, San Diego, Seattle, San Francisco and San Jose.

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  1. Is what BA are doing even legal?

    • Telling the world that they’re serving Do&Co when it’s actually Gate Gourmet would leave them wide open to an intellectual property lawsuit from Do&Co, for a start…

  2. We are flying our first F from LHR-SIN with BA in May. Do we get to choose and book our meals beforehand? Non special diet ones I mean.

    • You should be able to choose from 28 days before. It will show in MMB. However, last year on my flight to HKG the crew had no info about my pre-selection. Luckily they had my first choice still…

    • Hi Liz, you’ll get to choose your main from LHR. It will also show you the rest of the menu for that meal. It usually appears in MMB at 30 days out.

      • Ok thanks – I will make a note and book my spa appointment too!

        • If the 5A spa is busy T5B might also be an option, usually quieter.

        • I’d strongly recommend calling YouFirst to book rather than emailing; by the time they respond to emails the slots are often gone.

    • Your main meal yes.

    • Don’t forget to book your free spa treatment the first day you can also. I always forget my 1 day and all the appointments are gone!

  3. AviosNewbie says:

    I am flying to Los Angeles tomorrow morning for a week, and will report back on what if anything has changed.

    • I’m flying LA tomorrow, one of the early morning flights, I don’t think the LAS route is due to get the new food offering

  4. Alastair says:

    You mention Club Europe, flew business to Faro on Sunday food inedible.

    • All of it? What was wrong with it? Was compensation offered?

    • Graham Walsh says:

      I went to AMS in CE last week. Crap finger sandwich with no explanation of what it was. On the way back they had run out of my first choice 3 rows in front. Wasn’t even offered a bread roll when I declined the 2nd choice. I had to ask for the roll.

  5. OT but BA catering – we’re booked on the 0645 LHR – Tenerife (TFS) and have been checking the catering – am i right in thinking we’ll only get a hot breakfast? Seems small for a 4.5 hour flight.

    • Thers are a whole bunch of airlines you could fly 5h+ and get nothing. Not sure about your flight, I would have thought it went under ET/CE so likely the usual offering.

  6. We’ve just come backdrop San Diego and The White Co wash bag appeared. Certainly the bag is a vast improvement over the cloth shoe bag thing previously issued. Contents are broadly the same …moisturiser, pulse point stuff (?!) lip balm from WC,The pen, toothbrush etc eye mask and socks are all the same, with socks and mask now in grey. Bedding as before . However, the 747 was clean, in fact sparkling!

  7. ….Er. ‘ back from… ‘

  8. We always use our avios to fly fort when we can.

    We recently flew from LA to London, and when I asked for a sleep suit and mattress, I was told there was not any.

    Does this mean there usually is bedding and sleep suits?

  9. Is it maybe just the case that Do&Co need more time to scale up, or that there is still a GG contract in place that can’t be broken at this point in time?

    • either way, you cant serve GG and tell the world its Do&CO

      • To be fair, I doubt they ever said that Do&Co was taking over catering. It was implicit, however, given that Do&Co food was used at the PR launch along with Do&Co branded crockery.

        • So it’s basically the usual smoke and mirrors, but we knew that as soon as we saw through the stage-managed appearance of the Bollinger.

          Be nice to see the £600m figure taken apart to see what it’s (allegedly) going to be spent on, and over what period.

        • I thought the food is presented with a little card that says Do&CO? Even the trolley service has a Do&Co logo? Or is that to NYC only and unbranded for the other pseudo-do&co routes?

    • The latter. That said, if BA agreed a long-term contract with Do&Co I’m sure they would make the necessary investment in new facilities required to produce the volumes required by BA. Gate Gourmet could be bought off with a few quid.

  10. I just flew out of LHR on BA0073 to Abu Dhabi; World Traveller Plus ticket. Cost was over 1800 pounds. I was seated in Row 19, window seat. Traveller Plus Configuration rows 16 to 21. By the time I was offered a meal. No choice available. Take it or leave it. BA service for nearly 2000 pounds.

    • why would you pay £2k for WTP? Surely CW is much less than that?

    • To Fly, To Serve. The latter went out of the window a looong time ago…

    • Lady London says:

      I’ve told BA to “leave it” in exactly that circumstance and had no meal. Luckily without having paid so much.

      When British Airways catering got really ridiculous even on long-haul my response to being handed a small chocolate bar as ‘second meal’ 9 hours into an 11-hour flight was “Please take it back. British Airways clearly needs it more than me”.

      Is this bait and switch? Would a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority about British Airways advertising and promotion of ‘new’ catering mentioning a supplier they’re largely not using for it, have any effect?

  11. Do&Co catering is fantastic, it is also why Turkish food even in economy is so fantastic. This sounded to good to be true from BA, so sounds about right! Also follows the Cruz regime of coming across as miserably miserly and cheap… They keep being caught out but don’t learn…

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