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You can now buy food and drink in British Airways short-haul Economy without pre-ordering

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When British Airways launched its revised short-haul Economy catering in January, it came with a catch.

The good news was that all passengers got a free bottle of water and a mini snack. A range of good quality Tom Kerridge products were also added to the ‘for sale’ menu.

The bad news was that EVERYTHING had to pre-ordered. Fancy a cup of coffee on board? Forget it. You had to order it 24 hours in advance (12 hours for outbound flights) or you weren’t getting it.

British Airways brings back buy on board food

Everyone except British Airways decided that this was a bad idea. When Rhys flew down to Edinburgh in April, he was the ONLY person – on either leg of his trip – to have pre-ordered anything. Here is Rhys’s review of pre-ordering food in economy on British Airways including a review of his Tom Kerridge pie.

British Airways has now relented.

Starting from 19th July, you will be able to order food and drink onboard. The Tom Kerridge items will not be available, and it remains to be seen if there will be any fresh food at all.

It is a staggered roll out so it may take a few weeks to reach all routes. It will initially launch on 29 routes, including those to Greece, the Balearics, Cyprus, Egypt, Romania, Morocco, Moscow and Jordan.

Ultra short routes such as Jersey and Amsterdam will not receive the service. If you want a cup of coffee on these services, it will still need to be ordered 12-24 hours in advance.

British Airways Eurotraveller Tom Kerridge steak and ale pie

How will British Airways ‘buy on board’ work?

You will be free to continue pre-ordering food and drink from up to 12 hours before departure. Pre-ordering will remain the only way to get your hands on the Tom Kerridge menu and certain other items.

If you want to purchase anything onboard, you will need to log in to a new inflight ordering system via your smartphone. You will not need to pay for inflight wi-fi to access this.

Payment will be possible via credit and debit cards or with Avios. The Avios option is a bad deal and best avoided. Cash payments will not be possible. It appears that payment will be made to cabin crew and not online to avoid any stock issues.

So, you see, progress of sorts ….

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Comments (27)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Jonathan says:

    Once again, another reminder of the failure of BOB, how poorly and quickly it was thought and rolled out and no real idea from the people who made the changes how at it would work in BA’s airplanes itself !

    Apart from a drink (where a bottled or canned one can easily be brought from a terminal shop), I can’t see many people jumping for non fresh food

    Destinations like Jordan, Egypt, Israel etc. always baffled me is to what the catering policy is, since all flights that are deemed long haul would have complimentary catering, and three mentioned above, are technically long haul, or classed as long haul for earning Avios and Tier points (by flight), and for APD

    • Tom says:

      Think you’ll find CAI, AMM & DME are now classed as short haul for Avios/Tier Points and get the full short haul product (including BOB). TLV is still classed as long haul and as such gets complimentary catering in World Traveller.

      • ADS says:

        I guess that’s what happens when you have serious competition on the TLV route, but not so much on the other routes in the region

  • David says:

    ‘down’ to Edinburgh?

    • Andrew says:

      Well, if you regularly take the train, journeys away from London are always “Down”.

      • Char Char says:


      • Dubious says:

        If you fly…
        Edinburgh Airport – Aerodrome elevation = 173 ft

        Heathrow Airport – Aerodrome elevation = 151 ft…

        Whilst I would usually say [tup’ north] when heading northward from southern UK, I concede that when flying EDI to LHR you are technically going down…

    • Dave says:

      In the UK you usually travel up to/ down from London, certainly on the railways. eg the down flying Scotsman goes from London to Edinburgh.

      • David says:

        Yes, but that is railway terminology, and within Scotland (excluding ECML and WCML) up is towards Edinburgh.

        Never casually used ‘down’ for flying myself. Sounds wrong.

        • David says:

          edit – *for flying northwards. I’d use down for flying south.

    • AJA says:

      I must admit I would say flying up to Edinburgh given that it is the more northerly city if starting in London but I just did a search of the internet and found this rather lovely explanation:

      When I was a child and asked my grandmother this question, she said it was all about importance. Regardless of where on the map you live, you still go up to London, because it’s the capital city.

      And in the same way, you go up to university, especially if it’s Oxford or Cambridge, and go down at the end of term. If you don’t work or behave extremely badly, you might be Sent Down.

      What you do if you are going home from Oxford or Cambridge, and home is in London, I have no idea. “I’m going down on Friday, going up to London,” presumably!

      And I’m rewatching Downton Abbey and they’re always going “up to London” despite supposedly living in Yorkshire

      • Ben says:

        I think this might be one where the writer says British but actually means English (the quora q&a anyway). Nobody Scottish would say they are going “up to London” if travelling from Scotland.

        • Ben says:

          Although I confess to having no idea what someone Welsh might say if travelling from Wales.

      • Dubious says:

        I thought you get ‘sent down’ in a court because you are literally sent down the stairs to the cells below?

      • Bagoly says:

        Cambridge is (to members) more important than London, so one just goes down to London.

  • Save East Coast Rewards says:

    To be fair the T&Cs of Speedbird Cafe always had mention of buying on board “(when the in-flight service resumes)” so I think a return to BoB was always planned, just a case of whether it was in this form or the usual trolley form.

    I agree with your comments on FT that this is a rather faffy way if you just want to order a coffee, but I can see it as a nice way on slightly longer flights if you want something more substantial.

    Actualy LNER has beat them to this and already offers something similar on their trains. I think Avanti has too

    • FatherOfFour says:

      I tried the Avanti option on Saturday. It wasn’t obvious it existed after logging on to Wi-Fi – I assumed there would be a big advert flogging the shop, but I expected they had BoB so I searched and found it.
      I found and added a coffee, then saw a deal. Adding a cake didn’t activate the deal; you had to add the deal and specify the components within it. By the time I found how to remove the first coffee I had added, I was fed up and didn’t bother completing the transaction. I hope BA’s interface is more intuitive.

  • MW says:

    A bit too little but a move in the right direction.

    It makes me wonder who are those people who think up these policies and do they ever travel or even try to imagine what the travel experience looks like?

  • Jonathan says:

    I thought the order in advance policy was great as my wife always spent at least £10 on coffee, snack, G&T even on a short hop to Amsterdam when we’d been sat in the lounge for an hour before 😆

  • Dave says:

    I’m Scottish and would refer to going up to London. I normally use the train and it would be on the up line. It’ll then be on the down like coming home. I’ve never heard anyone say going up to Edinburgh on the train. From London you would take the train down to Edinburgh, or drive up north to Edinburgh. Not sure about flying though.

    • David says:

      Don’t know who you speak to. Unless very train related people, everyone I’ve spoken with would say up to Edinburgh, and down to London.
      Be it train, flying or driving.

      Only exceptions: someone who works for a railway company, someone who’s dad worked for a railway company. And one of them said they knew they said it differently to everyone they knew socially.

  • Andrew says:

    Really was a ridiculous idea having to decide the day before if you wanted a cup of tea on your flight – I’m astounded that somewhere that was thought up by presumably intelligent business leaders at BA.

    • Fraser says:

      Or, worse, pre-ordering but needing to decide 24 hours in advance if you’d like a top-up!

  • geoff says:

    Their media marketing team must be working hard to backtrack on the previous pre-ordering benefits of only carrying what was needed and reducing waste.

    A bit like Speedbird IPA being touted as brewed specifically to taste good at altitude and then being sold off to be drunk at home.

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