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What is the British Airways temporary catering like in First Class?

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Two months ago, British Airways revealed its temporary coronavirus in-flight catering.

Unlike other airlines, BA reconstructed its food offering from scratch. The old recipes and menus went out the window, to be replaced with a smaller, more limited selection.

The change also involved a move to cold dishes (mostly sandwiches) in virtually all classes. First was the only cabin to feature hot main courses.

Instead of being presented on trays, your food would arrive in a box to avoid cross contamination:

British Airways coronavirus catering food drink

BA’s temporary covid catering in First class

Thanks to reader Joe, we now have some photos of what the temporary catering really looks like in First. Joe was on a flight from London to Hong Kong.

Drinks are being served in plastic cups in all classes. British Airways is serving Nicolas Feuillatte Réserve Exclusive Brut NV Champagne, which has previously appeared on the M&S buy-on-board short haul menu:

British Airways coronavirus catering food drink

For dinner, you are given this large box:

British Airways coronavirus catering food drink

…which includes two cold starters/sides, a bottle of water and some bread. Your main (hot) meal comes in a separate box, with an economy-style metal foil covering:

British Airways coronavirus catering food drink

It doesn’t look quite as bland as an economy meal, but it’s not far off!

British Airways coronavirus catering food drink

For dessert you get three little plastic-wrapped cups including DO&CO’s signature chocolate dessert:

British Airways coronavirus catering food drink

British Airways is currently serving afternoon tea as its second meal, at least on this flight.  It features a selection of finger sandwiches, macarons, a fruit salad and some clotted cream and jam to go with what I imagine will be a scone:

British Airways coronavirus catering food drink

Is it time to improve catering again?

At the time British Airways re-introduced its Covid-19 catering measures, sit-down restaurants across the UK were still boarded up. BA’s meals were a sensible compromise between comfort and safety: an improvement on the ‘cheese sandwich and a kit kat’ that the airline had been offering in previous months but with fewer contact points than pre-Covid catering.

A lot has changed since then as lockdown restrictions have eased. Crucially, restaurants were permitted to open in early July and whilst measures have been taken to minimise cross-contamination, you’re unlikely to see your waiter or waitress bringing your food in paper boxes or with plastic lids.

It is not entirely BA’s fault. Government guidance to airlines still suggests that they offer “pre-sealed and pre-prepared food and drink,” which British Airways is clearly following.

Whilst BA’s temporary meal service is an improvement, it is now generally lagging behind in comparison with its competitors and the hospitality industry at large. Virgin Atlantic, for example, is offering hot meals in every cabin, whilst Lufthansa is offering its meals in a more normal service on trays with real crockery.

Is there a way that British Airways can safely improve its offering whilst still adhering to government guidelines? I’d say so. Pretty much all in-flight food is pre-prepared and packaged anyway, with cabin crew only required to re-heat and present dishes. I’m not sure that boxing food rather than serving it on re-usable crockery really moves the needle.

It will be increasingly important for British Airways to prove that it is offering a good service, especially in premium cabins, as it encourages people to make future bookings.

Comments (86)

  • Shreya says:

    Full price / points but half the experience!

  • FlightDiver says:

    The better half and I flew F on points from LGW-BGI last July and had an amazing journey. BA had opened their new south terminal lounge albeit there isn’t a CCR equivalent in LGW and upon stepping onboard the LPGS was nicely flowing with excellent food and service.

    We are booked on the same flight this year at the end of September and although it is a nice seat, pjs and more space, I can’t help feeling short changed for that number of points when there is no lounge and I am eating an economy meal and drinking the lowest price point champagne out of plastic.