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British Airways drops M&S for short-haul economy food – Greggs to take over?

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British Airways has announced, via The Sun, that it has terminated its contract with Marks & Spencer to provide ‘buy on board’ food for short-haul economy passengers.

In a short statement, BA said:

We’re off on a new flight path.

“We look forward to announcing our exciting new buy-on-board proposition with a great British brand that customers have told us they love.”

This is believed to be either Greggs or Waitrose, with The Sun reporting that both companies have submitted proposals.

There could be a link with Avios dropping Tesco, with Waitrose potentially getting the on-board contract and becoming the Avios supermarket partner. This also makes it less likely that M&S/Ocado will get the Avios deal.

British Airways and Marks and Spencers food

But M&S doesn’t really provide BA catering …..

It is a common misconception that M&S actually ‘provides’ the food in short-haul economy. In truth, Tourvest – the supplier – buys a small number of M&S items and adds them to its existing range of products. If you count down the menu, the percentage which is branded M&S product is relatively small.

Whilst introducing buy on board was controversial when introduced, in truth it was a mercy killing for the existing offering. BA had actually fallen behind other airlines – on BA, you would get a drink and a small bag of pretzels. There was no other alternative even if you were hungry. Other carriers, whilst charging, did at least have a full offering.

Unfortunately, BA screwed it up. In various trips with Vueling, easyJet and Ryanair over the past couple of years, it has been clear that all have a far broader range – with better availability – than British Airways. Simply swapping an M&S sandwich for a Waitrose one, both of which are likely to come from the same factory anyway, won’t change that.

Comments (187)

  • Jimmy says:

    This isn’t good news. A tie up with Waitrose (compared to M+S) will mean less avios being earned by a large chunk of people.

    • mvcvz says:

      I disagree. Waitrose carries a complete range of groceries such that it’s perfectly possible to complete a full weekly or monthly shop there. M&S doesn’t. Sainsbury’s would be a far better option than either though.

      • James says:

        I imagine Jimmy’s point isn’t about what they sell, rather their lack of reach compared with Tesco and the other big players.

        • Rhys says:

          …but how many people who collected Clubcard points actually transferred them to Avios? It might be less than you think. The people I know didn’t – they used them for dining vouchers etc.

          • Polly says:

            Agree, we are one of the very few we know who actually convert to avios…mostly restaurants and the odd trip they are used for.

        • Jill (Kinkell) says:

          Well, no Waitrose near me for over 100 miles. I’m a a Tesco girl…..we are inundated with them in Inverness.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      I don’t get why everyone thinks this will mean a waitrose tie up. There was never any M&S tie up!

  • Lumma says:

    Hopefully can get avois from shopping in Gregg’s. Might struggle to get seats on the Newcastle to Heathrow route!

  • ChrisW says:

    I would be happy with free water + tea/coffee and then BoB for more substantial items. So many airports have no free water refill airside and all I want on an hour or two flight is some water rather than paying rip off prices at an airport shop.

    • The real John says:

      In European airports tap water should be safe to drink.

      • Rhys says:

        Easier said than done at some airports when the taps in the bathroom don’t have temperature controls. Enjoy your lukewarm water!

        • Anna says:

          I am a big fan of tap water but never drank it in an airport until I went to Vienna last year and security is at the gate so you can’t buy a drink to take with you (there is a drinks machine in the waiting area but we didn’t know that). I took an empty bottle and filled it from the bathroom tap – it was the coldest, tastiest tap water I have ever had! I like to think it was pumped directly from the alps … 🤣

        • Lady London says:

          I suspect that would be illegal. Apparently there are strict temperature ranges for hot & for cold taps and these have to be tested and documented at specific intervals. Pretty sure bathrooms in airports would come under these rules.

          Never take drinking water from any cold tap that is not labelled as such, or in the UK is a cold water kitchen tap as those have to come directly off the mains.

      • Alex M says:

        it may be safe but most of the times tap water in the uk tastes quite disgusting to me. in Iceland, however, the tap water comes from glaciers and it was the tastiest water I ever had!

        • The real John says:

          Agreed UK tap water except maybe in west Scotland is disgusting, but LHR and LGW have refilling stations. I was talking about non-UK. I haven’t flown out of other UK airports where I didn’t have lounge access, so not sure about MAN etc.

          • Josh says:

            It varies across the UK. Doncaster has very nice water. I’ve only tasted better in Vienna.

            If you want nasty water, try Alicante 🤮

    • Char Char says:

      You can get free hot water on board just bring a tea bag and your done!

  • James17uk says:

    Yes the M&S issue was the appalling range that had been chosen. Rarely can you even get a snack with meat in it. EasyJet offer almost everything you can dream of and the drinks range is better too. It’s the procurement of the stock that needs looking at to ensure it caters to more than the prawn sandwich brigade.

  • Andy S says:

    As much as Greggs sausage roll or a steak bake sounds tempting on a flight, just imagine the mess it would make on board the aircraft!

  • Doug M says:

    I can’t imagine anything less important to me than the brand involved in BoB food. It’s so awful compared to what you can get at origin or destination why eat on a SH flight.

  • Max says:

    Greggs food is awful, it will push BA below the budget airlines for quality

    • BP says:

      Greggs sandwiches are actually pretty good. I’d rate them as good as M&S and above almost every other major supermarket.

      • RussellH says:

        I am not familiar with Gregg’s sandwiches, but Aldi + Lidl ones are easily as good as those from Sainsbury’s. As to Waitrose & M+S, the ones I have bought have only been from motorway services and much the same as Aldi + Lidl, except, of course, the price.

        • ChrisM says:

          Sainsbury’s sandwiches were reasonable until a couple of years ago when they “Enhanced” the meal deal. The supplier was changed at the same time and the standard of them fell through the floor. I work for them and the number of complaints my store colleagues received about the changes was unbelievable.

      • Alex Sm says:

        You sound like a BA flight attendant who tried to convince me about their “updated” food offering back in 2014 when hot meals on European flights were substituted with the cheapest possible egg and cress sandwiches: “It’s actually quite nice…”. Thanks but no thanks!

    • Crafty says:

      Incorrect

  • planeconcorde says:

    I don’t get it.

    Pre-COVID British Airways can’t provide free drinks and food in economy short haul.

    During COVID British Airways say they are reducing the number of crew and passenger interactions by giving EVERYBODY a bag containing a bag of crisps, a packet of biscuits and a small bottle of water. At least that is what band 1 routes get afternoon / evening time.

    Pre-COVID not everybody bought BOB, especially on the shortest routes. So haven’t they just increased the number of crew to passenger interactions from some passengers to everybody?

    As they have shown they can serve everybody during COVID then why not post-COVID too?

    • The real John says:

      Save money

    • ChrisW says:

      The bag for all passengers is a temporary quick fix when they can’t sell BoB. It won’t be permanent.

    • Char Char says:

      Its actually an improvement for most going economy!

      Interactions and infections are all over rated anyway, not like it will make the slightest bit of difference

    • Jonathan says:

      Huge difference between 1 quick pass up the aisle handing out identical bags to every passenger (approx 3 mins for the whole cabin) vs taking, preparing & taking payment for an order (approx 90 seconds per order).

      In the BoB scenario it’s very easy for the trolley & crew to be stationary within 1 metre of numerous passengers for 5 mins (cut off for contact tracing).