We have given British Airways a fairly easy ride over its in-flight service standards in recent weeks. There were a number of reasons for this:
the very fact that BA is running any long haul passenger services is a good result compared to many other airlines
we haven’t been flying ourselves and we try to minimise articles based on third party feedback
other airlines hadn’t settled down into routines of their own
the only people flying long-haul are those who had to travel, and food would not have been top of their priority list
However, I think we’re now past the inflection point in terms of travel demand. This means that it is time to ask whether British Airways is just disguising cost cutting in the name of ‘health’.
EDIT: Since this article was published, British Airways has announced improved temporary coronavirus catering – see here.
If you fly British Airways Club World or First Class at present, this is what you will get to eat and drink:
A bottle of Harrogate spring water, plus ….
…. a cold sandwich (not as attractive as this one), plus ….
…. lovingly served in a ……
….. which is hooked on the back of your seat waiting for you when you board.
(To be fair, there are stories of reheated pizza slices in a cardboard box on flights over 10 hours, so you MIGHT get something warm. The images I’ve seen are not pretty though!)
Don’t get too excited by the four-finger Kit Kat. A reader sent me a photo from his First Class flight from Los Angeles last week and he only received two fingers, which seems appropriate in some ways. He did get the congealed reheated pizza slice as well though.
If you think this is normal in the current climate, think again.
Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways are serving their standard onboard food. Qatar Airways and Etihad have, admittedly, moved to a ‘single tray’ service but the product itself is unchanged. What about the European airlines though?
What is Lufthansa currently offering onboard?
If you think that the Middle Eastern airlines are not a fair comparison for some reason, let’s look at Lufthansa.
Here are Lufthansa’s revised service standards in Business and First Class for flights until the end of August.
Short haul Lufthansa business class:
Standard service, including special meals
(In case you’re wondering, British Airways currently offers Club Europe passengers a bottle of water and a small packet of shortbread. What is amusing is that the shortbread is BA’s idea of ‘luxury’ to justify the extra £200 or so on the ticket price. Passengers in Euro Traveller only receive a pack of pretzels with their bottle of water. There are occasional sightings of bags of crisps and biscuits.)
Long haul Lufthansa business class:
Standard service, except that there are no regionally themed menus depending on route
Paper menus continue to be available, and there is a choice of three main courses including the hot options
Long haul Lufthansa First Class:
Standard service – the same menu as usual BUT the caviar trolley no longer rolls down the aisle (here is a photo of mine from 2017, the photo above is my dessert from 2017):
It is worth noting that Virgin Atlantic WILL be serving hot meals in both Economy and Upper Class when it restarts passenger flights next month.
However, if you do need to travel long-haul First Class over the next 2-3 months, remember that you DO have a choice. There is either the Lufthansa caviar selection and full standard menu (and standard beverage service) or your British Airways plastic bag with a sandwich, Kit Kat, bottle of water and no alcohol. Think carefully …..
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