BA Club Europe catering …. it’s coming home!

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Oh yes.  It’s coming home, from mid September:

New British Airways Club Europe catering

According to rumours on Flyertalk, which have been confirmed by a British Airways short-haul crew member I know who has seen the in-house presentation, the new Club Europe catering – rolling out from mid September – sees the return of scones to Afternoon Tea.

In fact, you can pretend that the last 18 months was a Dallas-style dream.

It’s goodbye to getting wine in tiny portions from full-size bottles – the individual bottles are returning (champagne remains in large bottles on longer routes, smaller bottles on shorter routes)

It’s goodbye to the bizarre new zonal system which downgraded the catering on BA’s core European business routes – the old banding system returns

It’s goodbye to being served your meal a course at a time on longer routes

What is NOT going away are the small trays, due to storage issues with the refurbished and new aircraft.   Your wine glass will also be pre-loaded onto the tray.

This means – on longer routes where the main course will no longer be served separately – you will receive a tray with lots of very small plates on it and a wine glass!  That said, BA’s portion generally did not fill the plate space available …..

In all seriousness ….

We are told that the catering budget for Club Europe has been increased.  What is provided should be of higher quality than what went before.

We are also promised more frequent menu rotations.  Apparently the meal choices will be changing every two weeks, instead of every three months or so.

On longer routes where there were historically two hot options, an additional third cold option will be added.  This is being done for logistical reasons (the ovens only take 48 meals at once and a full cabin can be 50+) although it has the benefit of also increasing choice.

As usual with British Airways, the proof of the, erm, panini is in the eating.  However, as all of the cuts to long-haul economy catering have now been reversed, there is some hope here.

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Comments

  1. I still don’t see the value in Club Europe. The food alone doesn’t make up for massive price disparity for what effectively is an economy seat albeit with a blocked middle seat…

    • That’s fine, BA doesn’t care. 10% of its customer base is willing to pay more and it is happy to take some extra money off those people. That’s why Tesco has normal chicken (which on the back of the packet says “this chicken is from Thailand, it has already been frozen and defrosted once”) and Finest Chicken.

      However, for leisure trips for non-status pax it can be decent value in my view. If you’re looking at £50 extra return, which on a leisure route of Gatwick over a weekend it might be, the extra Avios, lounge access, fast track, priority boarding etc makes it a good package. If you need the tier points it is even better.

      • Best put-down reply ever 🙂
        I do agree with you on that. Not sure about the changes though. Hot meal on ‘medium’, yes I can get on board with that. But on the long ones (ATH, HEL) I really like it being served separately, it gives you time to eat the (decent) cold starter before the hot main. And a return to economy wine rather than Club? No thanks!
        (The ‘individual’ wines are the ones from WT. The ‘full’ bottles are the ones from CW. Massive difference ????)

      • Catalan says:

        Totally agree! Plus (@vlcnc) most of the major European airlines have similar seating layouts in their business class.

        • Yes and that is why business class is mostly pointless in Europe. It’s a total scam. If it was branded as “Premium” as many of the LCC are doing and sold at a lower price-point that would be reasonable but it isn’t and is laughable as a business product and highly-misleading. I get the feeling a lot of people buy into this purely because it is branded as “business” when it is anything but…

          • BA does not want you in CE. They are happy you’re down the back. If everyone was willing to pay for CE it would be too cheap.

        • Yes because I am not foolish and dim enough to pay for that as an offering. It’s poor value for money and most obviously agree with me.

          I am happy for BA to charge a premium for a premium product. But that is not what is on offer here. I think for someone like yourself it probably doesn’t matter as you have so much Avios you can easily burn it without much thought. But for most people I would say it’s poor value out of their miles.

        • You can either pay one price and have no lounge access, no hold luggage, no food, no priority boarding or pay another, higher, price and have lounge access, free hold luggage, on board food and drink and priority boarding.

          The quality of those offerings and the value of the premium charged are subjective but I’m confident that having access to free champagne and boarding first qualify as premium relative to not having them.

          Whether or not it’s worth it is down the the individual and while their club cabins have high load ratio’s it’s a case of BA knowing their market well enough to keep the shareholders happy.

          We’d all like a flat bed, 3 bags, limo to the place and bottomless Dom P and fillet steak for £5, it doesn’t mean that someone can offer it profitably. I’d personally argue that few of us are willing to pay for the things we say we want and I’d back this up by the fact most of us travel on LCC’s these days for short haul and did so before the food, drink and baggage were taken away from economy with BA. Cause and effect need putting in the correct chronological order.

        • No one is asking for anything unreasonable on a premium cabin in short-haul. It’s very easy to dismiss these legitimate concerns as wanting what one can’t have but the product should at least reflect quality and value for money I don’t believe it does. The premium charged is not worth what is offered.

          As for your last point I am someone who would have previously flown with BA in economy short-haul over an LCC before but don’t now – in fact my favoured carrier in Europe now is easyJet who at least don’t have miserable crew and offer a comparable product at much better value for money. On short flight there has to be more of an incentive to upgrade as people are more likely to be happier with a less premium experience for a shorter amount of time given the cost.

          Rob himself has made this point before – there is no point in BA competing on price alone. It doesn’t even make any sense given BA’s hub and the effective limitations that has.

      • I think those people are fools. It is very poor value money or miles wise. If you have status there is even less reason for this as you get lounge access anyway.

        I do take your point about tier points, but I think getting into that business of doing things just to acquire something regardless of value is foolish.

        • Genghis says:

          I agree with you. Personally, having status, the only extra value I really see is the food (with a seat with less legroom than an exit row) which isn’t worth it in my view.

        • For a family of 4, CE works well with 2 rows.

          Everything is relative. You might buy Finest Tesco chicken, someone on minimum wage may buy Tesco Basic and call you a fool for paying more.

        • Yes because I am not foolish and dim enough to pay for that as an offering. It’s poor value for money and most obviously agree with me.

          I am happy for BA to charge a premium for a premium product. But that is not what is on offer here. I think for someone like yourself it probably doesn’t matter as you have so much Avios you can easily burn it without much thought. But for most people I would say it’s poor value out of their miles.

        • Apologies not sure what happened there with replies – too many threads!

          That is fine Rob but as I said the chicken comparison doesn’t work as BA are effectively selling a dressed up “basic” chicken as “finest”. My point it is not good value for money or reflective of the quality received.

        • Genghis says:

          Indeed, everything is relative. However, paying for quality chicken (not Tesco finest but from the butcher), I can see the quality as it’s not pumped with water. I’m therefore willing to pay the difference as there is something tangible.

          But I see paying the extra for a meal on CE for a seat with less legroom not worth the difference.

          As with everything, different strokes for different folks. I’d rather “waste” my money eating at good restaurants but others think I’m stupid for it.

        • @Genghis: I am exactly the same and obviously this is my opinion. As an open minded person I am willing to change my mind when weighing up arguments but I guess I just don’t see the justification for spending extra for the quality that is offered by CE. I also think for people who not as Avios rich as Rob might be, it would be poor use if miles for the experience and for cash ticket buyers, poor value for money.

        • I applaud that you are not foolish or dim enough to buy something that you don’t want (well done), and I suggest most people don’t buy things that they don’t want. However, perhaps you are not smart enough to realise that other people put value on things that you don’t see value in. For example, I place a huge value on a guaranteed empty seat next to me, it reduces the likelihood of an overweight person spilling onto my seat to zero.

      • Also the quality comparison with a supermarket chicken doesn’t work here. As BA are basically selling “normal chicken” as “finest chicken” as you put it and staggeringly people are falling for it! ????

      • (At £50 it might be reasonable, but it is rarely that cheap!)

        • Catalan says:

          Wow! How’s that for a monologue 😉

        • The point is that it SHOULD be priced so high that 90% say No.

        • I am not sure how it is a monologue when I am responding to statements others have made.

          Just because someone posts a retort doesn’t mean that their comments become truth and prevail over the others. I have actually patiently challenged each point made which is more than most people do. And I have yet to see a good justification for the extra expense CE entails.

          I respectfully disagree about the value of CE as it currently is and I know for a fact there are a lot of people on here.

        • @Rob: I agree that there is an element of it being a more exclusive cabin – my point is it is poor value for money. Low grade food, economy seating, slop in lounges is not worth the inflated extra cost charged.

        • My own monologue (though I agree yours was not one)… I flew economy recently as a silver card holder, got the exit seat with the middle seat blocked, and bought plenty from BoB which was really quite nice. But I couldn’t help but miss Club Europe. My reasons were:
          1) Almost every CE flight I’ve had has been lovely and peaceful, including one where my friends were down the back in around row 14 and had a horrible flight with screaming children and raucous stag dos. I had absolutely no idea of any of this. Combination of distance, the curtain, the engines drowning it out…? Anyway, there just wasn’t the same peace sitting in economy.
          2) Having an absolute guarantee of the blocked middle seat – I think it does make a difference. I sat next to a guy on a flight to Addis Ababa once (in economy, before my points obsession) who acted as if he was looking for something for the whole 8 hours. He was constantly twisting and turning, leaning forward and then slamming back against his chair, half getting up and then sitting down again. I don’t know if it was some bizarre form of exercise but I was ready to kill him by the end, as I imagine was the poor person whose tray was attached to the back of his chair.
          3) It’s a lot easier to nip to the loo (often) and have a window seat if you’re in 1A/1F without pissing your neighbour off, and there isn’t usually a queue.
          4) I like the meal service as it breaks up the journey and I’m a sucker for hot food.
          5) The separate CE buses at LHR are a nice touch these days, if not a bit ridiculous when you have two rows of CE.

      • Would love to know how many BA routes have any cheap CE “I” r/t fares priced at only £50 more than the cheapest ET “O” HBO r/t fares.

    • If it’s all about the seat, best no mention CE @ LCY.

      But it’s not, its about the lounge, the baggage allowance, the onboard, and .. the free seat (except at LCY)

      • CE via LCY is my favourite short haul product, despite the lack of lounge, fast track security or free middle seat. The service, catering, leg room and small cabins more than make up for it.

  2. Peter K says:

    Bet they aren’t doing a gluten free version ????

  3. Tomasz Skrzypczak says:

    Can’t read more about BA, it’s just pointless! I don’t fly business or first, looking at their economy class, they are like Ryanair with A380 and 747 to me. Get rid of that low cost CEO and get somebody who understands quality. Bring back quality to BA!

  4. They need to get rid of the awful bread in plastic they serve on the tray with the ploughmans afternoon tea.

    It’s absolutely awful. Made the mistake of trying to eat it once. Never again! Does no one at BA try this stuff before inflicting it on passengers? The wastage must cost a fortune. Just serve a normal bread roll instead.

    • Agree the ploughman sandwich is VERY poor quality. Sometimes that is all that is left in CE when they get to me. I always make a point of saying “Thanks for the stale ploughman’s”. The Barcelona business route, usually at a minimum of £200 return deserves better…

      • Being offered “a ploughman’s lunch” in CE when the flight departs at 16:15 local time (and arrives LHR at 17:15) seems more than a bit silly.

      • Sandwich?

        I’m talking about the ‘meal’ which is a small pork pie, some cheese and salad and some pickle. Plus the dessert cake.

  5. Hot or cold scones ?

  6. dicksbits says:

    The big Q on longer European routes (band 3) is are they keeping the meals or is afternoon tea returning? They were the big winners when the catering changed (eg Faro, Malaga)

    • THIS! If they dish out the same afternoon tea on a LHR to AMS as on a LHR to GIB then band 3 will be huge losers! Won’t bother with CE on flights to Spain then.

  7. what a fuss over nowt. We should be debating the choice of vintage champagnes, caviar etc being served in a premium class, not on whether the scone was warm or the cutlery being used!

    BA lounges = disappointing (unless you want to get drunk), BA premium hard and soft products = disappointing (especially when compared to ME and Asian carriers). Accept the whole thing is going to be underwhelming.

    #BootsMealDeal

  8. Although I probably wouldn’t pay for CE, it can be a useful way of getting reward flights at short notice.

    I’ve just booked a return for my OH from LIS to LHR for 3 weeks time. He’s coming over with one empty suitcase and will be going back with two full ones and a cabin bag,

    No redemptions availability in economy, but I got CE for £50 plus 25500 Avios. The cost of acquiring the Avios was £56, so £106 total. The cash price would have been €570.

    Flights with Ryanair to STN at similar times with Fast Track, 1 suitcase, and row 1 seating would have been £200. No lounge access, no on board catering.

    • Good buy. We will use CE in RFS only when no Y RFS left. And will always go for an exit seat, as Silver, with the next seat often blocked, nice..but the motto is Y on SH, if available. Fab value at short notice, food secondary after eating in lounge, even if slop, it’s filling.

  9. Peter K says:

    I’ve recently been comparing leg room, catering etc on different airlines short haul and BA is far from the worst, economy or business.
    The extra seat spare in the middle is also very welcome. Having had loud drunk people, a man with no legs on the end of the row (very awkward to get past) etc the ability to have just me and Mrs K on a row is lovely.
    ‘Proper’ business seats would be nice but as it is there are definite benefits to the current arrangement. Whether it is “worth” the extra avios or money is just dependant on how much value you put upon what is provided.
    Is a suite worth more than a standard room for one night? Many might say yes but it is all about what you personally put value on.

    • Did you really just complain about being sat next to someone who is disabled??!!

      • Why is that a problem? I would be very unhappy if I was in window or middle seat, and unable to go to the loo because the person in the aisle was incapable of moving without assistance.

        Ideally, BA should have upgraded this passenger to Row 1, or seated him and his companion with a spare seat.

        Even Ryanair were very helpful when my partner broke his foot before a recent flight. They seated him two rows from the rear exit, gave him a window seat on the LHS so to one would step on his foot, and a spare seat next to him.

        I suppose if the BA flight was full then there was no other option.

      • Peter K says:

        It was an easyjet flight and I was just saying that it was an awkward situation. He could not maneuver himself so we literally had to pass by with our backsides almost on his lap every time we left our seats. Embarrassing for both parties with lots of apologising on both sides.
        Not his fault, not our fault, but an example of why some people with high disposable income will consider the extra for Club Europe money well spent as they will avoid potentially awkward situations.

  10. So you paid £50 plus 25500 Avios? What would you value that at, in total?

    • The value, looking at the current cash price, is more than 1.5p per avios. My avios cost me 0.218p each, so £56 cost for the Avios.

      Looking at prices right now, BA economy would cost £360 without fast track,lounge access, or on board catering.

      Ryanair would cost £372 with fast track and reserved row one seating, but no lounge access or on board catering.

      And with BA CE you get an empty seat next to you.

      So for our requirements, great value for money. And if two people were travelling with an Amex voucher, it would be even better value.

  11. Rob (earlier comment) says 10% of BA pax are willing to pay for CE, but I wonder how many people in CE are only there because they are connecting to a long-haul.

    I’ve flown in CE many times, but 80% of these were on the first and last legs of ex-EU flights. I would have happily paid the same price for the entire ticket even if the short-haul legs were in economy. To put it another way, if the ex-EU ticket was offered with Y connecting flights for £X less than J, and I already had enough TPs, I would choose to save the £X, where X is the price I would pay to acquire the additional avios from flying CE.

    10% of my CE flights were TP runs, but they are always flights I was going to take anyway; and purchased in sales, therefore paying around £20 to £50 more than I would normally want to pay. Last year I paid about £120 more than I would have to fly CE instead of ET, to get Gold. I did earn back a lot of the £120 with the increased avios earning rate, but I wouldn’t pay anything to use F lounges over J. The F wing is nice, but I wouldn’t pay anything to use it either. I don’t like sitting in the 1st row in short-haul, and didn’t fly the 74, so actually from a monetary perspective I made a “loss”. I requalified for Silver this year so the soft landing was also worth nothing.

    The remaining 10% of my CE flights have been, as Nick_C said above, RFS redemptions at short-notice. If an ET redemption was available, I would have taken that, so value of CE is actually £0; the CE redemptions were just the cheapest available flight in the same way that if a CE paid flight happened to be cheaper than ET I would take it too.

    • I don’t know the data and would presume Rob knows more on this than me, but I find it hard to believe people willingly pay more for this product…

      • How much do you earn though? It is all relative. Apparently, looking at our user data, HFP readers are 450% more likely than the average UK web user to earn £75k+. There comes a point where an extra few hundred here and there makes zero difference as long as there is some tangible improvement in the benefits.

        • Genghis says:

          We apparently have a household income in the top 1% in the UK but still don’t feel well off living in London (“HENRYs”)

        • So you are basically saying any premium is worth the premium regardless of whether you are actually getting real value from the product? I accept some people have money to burn but that is hardly an endorsement!

          • You get more extra value from CE vs ET than you get from Tesco Finest vs Basic chicken ….

            A more interesting question is whether you allocate money to a better hotel room or CW / CE, given a choice.

        • I agree with regards to the hotel question as opposed to CE. I think with CW – that is a different story as it is longhaul and has a big difference in experience. Whilst it isn’t the best seat out there given the choice, you do at least get a flat bed to sleep in and the food is improved enough in my view. It’s a totally different product for a different context.

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