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BA news: sparkling wine returns to World Traveller Plus, Speedbird Cafe rebrands

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Two titbits of British Airways news emerged yesterday, tucked away in a press release about ice cream.

(Ice cream is being introduced on all long haul flights departing London before 5pm. This is for World Traveller and World Traveller Plus only.)

Of possibly more interest ….

Pre-take off sparkling wine is coming to World Traveller Plus

I wasn’t aware this wasn’t a ‘thing’ at the moment, to be honest, but from ‘mid July’ British Airways will be bringing back pre-departure sparkling wine in World Traveller Plus.

(It is probably not the one pictured above, which is an old PR image.)

The press release stresses this is ‘pre-departure’ so it may not be available throughout the flight.

The in-flight sparkling wine in Club World is being switched to a British wine, Balfour Rosé de Noirs, which is made only from red grapes. Rosé champagne, on the other hand, uses chardonnay in its blend.

Speedbird Cafe is to rebrand as High Life Cafe

The second bit of news is that Speedbird Cafe, the ‘buy on board (or pre-order)’ food and drink service in short haul economy is being rebranded.

From 20th July it will be known as High Life Cafe.

‘Speedbird’ is the air traffic control call sign for British Airways (this article explains the background) but has little resonance beyond the aviation community.

More importantly from a practical perspective, Speedbird Cafe lives on the website which doesn’t make a lot of sense.

I think that British Airways does a poor job of marketing Speedbird Cafe. It isn’t heavily pushed in pre-flight communications. It would also make sense to make wi-fi access to free inflight. People who realise on their outbound flight that they can pre-order items can immediately log on and order for their return trip.

My one attempt to try Speedbird Cafe led to me being served a hot Tom Kerridge pie which had not actually been heated up. I asked the crew to heat me a replacement (unwrapped ones cannot be reheated) but there were no replacements on board. I was promised a refund but the money never turned up. Rhys had better luck with Speedbird Cafe as he reviewed here.


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Comments (88)

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

  • Chris Higham says:

    It’s a good point re the marketing – we were on the evening flight down from Newcastle and seemed to be the envy of the whole of economy when our drinks and snacks turned up!!

  • Kathy M says:

    Not quite food ordering but similar. Tried pre ordering duty free cigarettes, but apparently they don’t do pre ordering for Euroflyer from Gatwick.

    On a totally separate point, but would like advice. Tomorrow we return from Kos. I booked paid seats in April. At one time got an e mail saying no longer guaranteed but if I did not like the new seats, could get my money back. When we set out to Kos seats allocated for the return were 4 D and F. ( ie OK). I have just checked in ( one hour after check in opened) and we have been moved to 2 window seats far apart. I can put up with not speaking to my husband for 4 hours, but I am very concerned about him having a window seat as he is quite disabled ( although he won’t admit it ) and will have huge problems getting up from that seat. At the age of 80, he will certainly need to for a 4 hour flight.
    Any advice welcomed.

    • Gordon says:

      Did you not mention that you required assistance because of a disability when you booked! If the flight is not full you should not have any issues moving to an aisle seat just ask a member of the cabin crew. If the flight is full I am sure someone would happily swap an aisle seat for a window seat….

      • Kathy M says:

        I said my husband won’t admit it! Of course we will ask the cabin crew. I have a print out of the paid seats, but not of the allocation 2 weeks ago. The business cabin is full and the changes suggest some determined early check ins wanting aisle seats.
        I did book using a 2 4 1 ( before you are all horrified with this use it is a left over pandemic extended by Robs suggestion of a cancelled Manchester booking and will expire at the end of this month) but there has been previous discussion as to does BA select Avios

        • Gordon says:

          I know you said the CE cabin is full, But I am sure someone will oblige, Another thing to bear in mind for future flights is that the Bassinet seats at the front are unavailable on the seating plan because of any late bookings or seat selections for pax with babies. Many times I have seen these unused! So if you are in the same predicament again ask a cabin crew member on boarding so you are first in line….

          • NorthernLass says:

            If no one will swap seats for an 80-year-old, what on earth is the world coming to?! Definitely speak to a crew member well before boarding starts so that they are aware of the situation. Whatever seat I’d booked, I wouldn’t make a fuss if I needed to move to accommodate someone who genuinely needed it.
            @Kathy, I have used 2 expiring pandemic 241s for city breaks this year, determined they wouldn’t go to waste!

    • Travel Strong says:

      @KathyM Either of you on the booking can ask for and manage the email communication on disability assistance, so you can ask for it and get seat priority without your husband having to admit (or be aware of!) a thing. You may have to submit some evidence of mobility issue (but maybe not at 80). I can understand from a privacy perspective why you might not want to do it without his involvement… but emailing the mobility team would remain private, you will not have any special attention on the flight except for your seat reservation (unless you ask for it), and if you can declare it on a public forum – why not declare it on an email to BA! 🙂

      It is quite common for someone else to manage the arrangements for mobility assistance – so they are used to dealing with another person on the booking. You’ll also get free seat reservations in the future for him and you if you are on the same booking.

      • Lyn says:

        @Kathy M, I agree with @Travel Strong’s recommendations. This is one area in which BA are very good indeed.

        I can see why this might be a little tricky for you. Since you are posting this question on HfP I am guessing that you are the one making your bookings? In which case, if I were you, I would simply call BA each time as soon as I had booked and explain that your husband needs an aisle seat and why, just exactly as you have here. As @TS says, they will give your husband a free seat reservation, and also you as long as you are on the same booking. As far as your husband is concerned, you have simply taken care of booking your seats.

        Good luck with today’s flights. I hope BA can sort out your seats.

        • Kathy M says:

          Thanks for all the advice. I think this has convinced my husband to admit to our limitations.
          In fact the reason for the move was three separate sets of parents with 1-3 children, so the single isle was occupied by Dad. They had priority.
          Most of us had pre booked seats. BA then said they were not guaranteed, and Rob told me it was because they kept changing type of aircraft. At that stage I could not access seat map in manage my booking. When I could do so it had given us seats together. Presumably the families had the same problems so when allocated unsuitable seats complained and got ours! Lesson for Euroflyer seems to be keep checking your seats, so if it gets changed, you may be able to sort something.

  • Londonsteve says:

    I was surprised to discover a couple of days ago that they don’t accept the BA Prepaid Mastercard for purchases from the Speedbird Cafe. I presume this is because it’s a prepaid card but even so… After repeated attempts we gave up trying to pay with it, the stewardess looked embarassed when I showed her the card was plastered with BA logos and said, “oh, it’s our card.”
    Has anyone managed to buy anything on board with the BA prepaid card (or any prepaid card)?

    • Mike says:

      Prepaid cards generally don’t work for offline transactions. I assume that it’s an offline transaction but someone may know different.

  • Expat in SJC says:

    Just done a round trip from SJC to LHR in WTP. Got another coming up next week.

    Admittedly, thanks to this site, it’s been years since I’ve flown WTP but I was surprised at just how poor it is. It really is a Y service in a slightly bigger seat (the seat is poor compared to VS). Food both ways was average and the service standards were cheap. For example second meal service only drink option is water or OJ or a tea- why not have a full bar service. To put it into perspective a three hour domestic flight on Alaska in Y gets two full bar services with snacks.

    I get why BA won’t make any real changes the cabin is popular and profitable. Just a shame to see how far Ba lags behind others in W.

    And what is it with the lack of WiFi and loos on the 788!

  • E4 Traveller says:

    Will the rebranding mean that lazy BA Domestic cabin crew manage to serve me a prepaid expensive tea before the Captain turns on the seat belt signs for landing? Time after time, I have had to remind one of the crew that the product I ordered has yet to be served to me. Often the attendant looks blankly at me as if no one has ever bought anything in advance. Not all crew are as dozy, some are very efficient and serve me straight after the pretzel run, but plenty are.

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

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