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FIRST LOOK: We try the new British Airways Club World meal service

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On Friday, British Airways operated a full meal service in its Club World business class cabin for the first time in well over two years.

Since the pandemic started, British Airways has veered from ‘snacks’ to DO&CO meal boxes to the ‘single tray’ set up that ran until last week. This was effectively a Band 3/4-style Club Europe meal, served in one go, with only the main course being hot.

The driver for this was not the pandemic or cost – although clearly they were far cheaper than proper meals – but staffing, allowing Club World cabins to run on the legal minimum number of crew.

We are now back in business, so to speak, so I thought I would take a look.

Review British Airways food club world business class

The positive news is that the meal I was served on Saturday was not bad at all. You could see the hand of upmarket caterers DO&CO at work.

It was also served relatively quickly, despite fears of a return to 2-3 hour meal services. I have included timestamps below so you can see how the meal arrived.

Before we start ….

This is possibly the most boring picture we’ve ever published, but I took it as a reminder to myself to mention that hot towels are back.

Review British Airways food club world business class

For a pre-meal drink, I took the Rose champagne (Besserat de Bellefon Grande Tradition Rose). The standard champage is the Canard-Duchene Cuvee Leonie, which I know some people enjoy but doesn’t shout ‘premium’.

Review British Airways food club world business class

Starters

Order taken: 10.37am / plate arrived 11.13am

There were three options available:

  • Smoked salmon, sauteed asparagus, tomato salsa, balsamic oil
  • Caprese salad, mozzarella, tomatoes, basil pesto
  • Piedmont pea soup, toasted Parmesan croutons (served hot – hot appetisers are back)

Each option comes with a mixed bean salad.

I took the salmon:

Review British Airways food club world business class

…. which was good. The balsamic vinegar gave it a kick which worked well, given the dulling effect that altitude has on your taste buds.

My daughter had the salad which also looked good, with surprisingly large pieces of mozzarella and tomato.

Main courses

Plate arrived: 11.39am

As you can in the picture, the food is now being served course by course again. The crew made a mistake by leaving the empty bread basket and mixed bean salad bowl behind – you will see that it remains even in the dessert photo.

The options were:

  • Braised lamb shank, crushed potatoes, braised onions, chargrilled spring onion
  • Mango and mustard marinated salmon, garlic peas, glazed baby carrots
  • Grilled tofu, roasted beetroots, celeriac puree, fava beans, slow roasted baby tomatoes, vegan jus

I took the lamb shank, partly as an experiment to see how BA treated it. I must admit that I was initially disappointed by the portion size, but in reality the picture I had in my mind – of a huge pub-style lamb shank being deposited in front of me – was never going to happen.

Review British Airways food club world business class

The meat was suitably juicy and tender, and disappointingly I couldn’t find anything to complain about.

The only issue is portion size. Compared to other major carriers – and I had flown Air France business class a few days before so I had a fresh comparison in mind – you simply don’t get as much on your plate with British Airways. It’s not a huge difference, but it is noticeable.

Cheese and dessert

Plate arrived: 12.02pm

There was no hanging around here, with my choice being put on my tray within 60 seconds of being requested, along with the coffee I ordered.

The options were:

  • Chocolate marquise, orange compote, caramelised orange zest
  • Fresh seasonal fruit
  • Sticky date pudding, creme anglaise sauce (I am guessing this was the hot option)
  • Cheese board, black grapes, onion and chilli relish

I took the chocolate option:

Review British Airways food club world business class

…. which was probably a little dull (basically a chocolate mousse in a chocolate coating) but DO&CO had done their best to liven it up with the compote.

Timing wise, it took 95 minutes from placing my initial order to being served my coffee and dessert. A fairer comparison is that it took 48 minutes from being served my starter to being served my dessert, which I consider totally acceptable.

Remember that if you are on an overnight flight and want to sleep quickly, you can request a ‘one tray’ meal with all of the items brought out at once.

Coffee break

I thought it was also worth adding in a picture of the coffee I had later in the flight.

Review British Airways food club world business class

As you just about see, it came with a pack of Walkers Shortbread and a Lindt Lindor chocolate. Progress indeed!

Afternoon tea

Closer to landing, the standard British Airways afternoon tea made an appearance.

The options were between two selections of three finger-sized sandwiches and a fixed sweet option (hazelnut eclair and lemon macaron, with a lemon and plain scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam).

This is still served in one go:

Review British Airways food club world business class

Again, it wasn’t bad, although it is virtually impossible to serve sandwiches on an aircraft without at least one edge going a bit dry.

The scones were as good as ever although I admit I may be in a minority in liking these. If you look closely at the rectangular dish at the rear, you’ll see that it is specifically designed to take the afternoon tea items.

Some of you will remember the days when you were given a cellophane wrapped pack of sandwiches to unwrap yourself, a la Tesco. Things have progressed.

Conclusion

Based on this meal, I am happy to declare the return of ‘proper’ Club World catering a success.

There was a collective gasp of surprise when, under Alex Cruz’s cost-cutting watch, upmarket DO&CO was given the Heathrow catering contract. It was never clear if budgets had gone up or DO&CO was willing to sell itself out in order to win a huge contract, but on the back of my meal I am pleasantly surprised.

Even its detractors need to admit that the new Club Suite package is working. The decor may be a bit too grey and Etihad has shown what can be done with the same seat on a higher decorative budget, but you can’t knock it. The IFE screen is a good size, the seat is comfortable and the seat controls work well.

The seat is good (BA is still the only European airline with a ‘door’ seat, not that I ever close mine), the food service is now good and the wi-fi works well – and at £12 for four hours is cheaper than some carriers. The crew were friendly and cheerful, but it is about time that some were given permanent Club World roles and given additional training in the food and drink on offer.


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Comments (87)

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

  • Max says:

    Anyone seen whether the Club Kitchen has also been improved?

    • Rob says:

      My son wandered down there on Saturday and returned with some crisps …. I have to admit I forgot to take a look myself though.

    • Rich says:

      In T5 lounge at moment. Odd to find no comment on here about BA’s current (started yesterday) stop on cabin upgrades due to ‘catering availability’. Maybe the reintroduction of better Club World food is proving an issue?

  • Ron says:

    Have just returned from a ten day trip to Singapore, flying economy. No pre dinner drinks service offered on either flight, a real shame as it’s always nice to start the holiday with a G&T. Hopefully this will return. It’s reassuring to see standards improving, hopefully those like me at the back of the bus will see some improvement too.

    • SamG says:

      I had this both ways on a recent NYC flight down the back. Possibly related to departure time?

  • linc1225 says:

    I am surprised no-one has picked up the complete absence of catering (including drinks) on club Europe at the moment

    • Rob says:

      It’s not a complete absence, it is just random flights. My wife did a Hamburg on Monday and it was fine.

      DHL is short of drivers and the new BA Club World catering now needs an extra truck apparently to deliver the food. This means that they don’t have enough drivers to restock all short haul planes.

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

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