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Does British Airways Think Its Passengers Are Stupid?

British Airways food screenshot 3Much has been written in the last week about British Airways food in-flight is changing but given that I rarely eat on a short-haul flight, I didn’t feel inclined to join the conversation.

However having just received this email, I’m inclined to express a view. It really does take some major marketing spin to describe introducing a paid service as an ‘upgrade.’ Are you kidding me?

Frankly British Airways, this sucks and is yet one more reason to fly Easyjet or dare I say it, Ryanair. At least their short-haul flights are reasonably priced so you don’t feel so aggrieved at having to put your hand in your pocket for a glass of wine!

So here is what you need to know:

From 11th January 2017, there will be no complimentary food service in Euro Traveller cabins on short-haul flights from Heathrow and Gatwick. You will instead be able to select from a seasonally inspired M & S menu with each item costing no more than £5.

Thankfully if you really don’t want to break into that fiver, you can purchase using your AVIOS but BE WARNED, cash is not accepted so you will have to use debit or credit cards if you don’t wish to splurge your AVIOS on a glass of wine. I’d love to know how many AVIOS that will cost!

British Airways food screenshot 2
British Airways screenshot

From summer 2017, this service will be extended to London City and London Stansted so it looks like you get a little longer to enjoy the uninspired in-flight food and FREE drink service on those flights.

Here are the food and drink menus.  If you fancy a sandwich and fruit salad you will be looking at over £6. Add in a glass of wine for another £4.50 and your lunch has now cost over £10. For a couple, that’s an additional cost of £40 on your journey.

The irony of all this for me is that this change would barely have registered but for that one little word – upgrade. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to get annoyed until I boarded my flight to Albania next summer and realised I need to pay for my wine!

Although I used AVIOS for those flights let’s be under no illusions, they were not budget flights with my friends paying £500 for two flights. Surely that warrants a complimentary glass of wine?

British Airways food screenshot
British Airways screenshot

What are your options?

British airways are allegedly offering free refunds although the site is down today so I can’t actually check this! There is a special complaint form as well so clearly the message is not being well received.

What do you think of British Airways’s upgrade?

What are your thoughts on this upgrade? I’d love to know what other people think or whether it is just me being a grumpy northern lass.

About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of Frommilestosmiles. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 90 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money-saving travel tips

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  1. Hi Anne

    I do like your comments on British Airways.

    I travel for a profession and will go to extreme lengths to avoid BA as if they still carry the Black Death.

    However, I do find this disappointing as this is my national carrier, however, they are surpassed by substantially smaller carriers with better service and indeed more comfortable seats. Which, being over six foot becomes particularly high on my list of irksome items…….but that is another topic.

    Please keep the good work up in driving BA to improve their service, which is at the present……………….SHOCKING. I strongly believe they should change their motto to “To Fly, to put into servitude.”



    • Ah James, I so feel your pain. For travel hacking options in the UK, they offer by far the best possibilities for flying business but I find myself trying desperately to find another alternative as it is simply one disaster after another at the moment. This year seems to have gone from bad to worse with the removal of self-select seats in economy, the system meltdowns and then of course, the never ending strikes.

      Which airline do you prefer to travel with?

  2. For short flights I think it’s always a nice treat when an airline gives you a little snack. It’s not expected, so it just really puts a cherry on top. I rarely buy food on the plane because I know there are cheaper and healthier options on the ground.

  3. Sorry to hear that British Airlines has taken a page from the US Airline Companies playbook. If you’re not on a budget airline or an extremely short flight, basic snacks and drinks should be included. I flew Allegient domestically recently and the fare was rock bottom. Unfortunately I didn’t know that even water was pay to play before boarding.

    • That’s like many of our budget airlines and I don’t mind paying for water and snacks when I’m getting a basic price. I do however when I’m not flying budget and the flight costs more. I’ve never heard of Allegiant though…

  4. Hmm. I’ve never flown British Airways but it looks like I’m not missing out. I tend to not eat on flights and if I can, I avoid eating the marked-up low quality airport food as well. It seems that they’re inspiring people to go ahead and try that “intermittent fasting” trend.

  5. I was always a big fan of BA. But over the past couple of years I have been hearing more and more from fellow travellers about bad service, poor customer relations and overall a “profit before all else” attitude.

    A couple of weeks ago I flew London Heathrow to Phoenix in First class (upgrade from business). To say it was shocking would be an understatement

    With the introduction of a “pay for food” programme without any reduction in fares or god forbid, the UK travel tax rates & then to dress it up as a “upgrade” is treating customers with contempt

    It is now over to the flying public to vote with their feet

    • I’m so sorry to hear you had a bad experience. That sucks if you have paid for first class (or used points). Unfortunately for me in the UK, it is the only airline I can easily build points with so I am stuck with them in some ways although I’m starting to build an allegiance to Lufthansa as an alternative although I have yet to experience their business option.

  6. Hi. I just got mad about the same issue. For sure, there will be no cut on fares, although they do not offer a complimentary snack (that was shrinking lately), so it is just for the company profit. That is their company choice, but please, do not market it as an improvement for the passenger on Economy class. It is shameful the way they twisted the fact that they are providing one service less. It is not for my benefit they do it!

    • I couldn’t agree more. Admittedly the snack was pitiful before but to suggest paying for it is a good thing….shameful! Thanks for stopping by.

  7. I never buy food, snacks or drink on a flight anyway to save money. I like to bring my own snacks.

    • Which of course you wouldn’t need to if the airline included it in the flight ticket. Obviously this is becoming less and less common, at least for the short haul flights! I like to carry as little as possible!

  8. I think this a trend on all full priced airlines going forward.
    I was listening to Emirates CEO last week stating that they will probably be introducing a fee for seat selection shortly.
    I guess flights have got cheaper in principle but with all the add on’s i am not so sure

    • Yes I heard about that one too but on short haul routes, where there is so much competition from budget airlines, i think it is a dangerous strategy. Financially I can see why they would want to do it but considering BA aren’t as profitable as some of the LCCs maybe they need to focus on other efficiencies too.

  9. Nope. def not worth it for me. I would happily fly low cost at the “low” cost than spend more AND pay for food – it makes no sense. Why would they even do that – are they becoming an LCC?

  10. I think it is rich of them to call it an “upgrade” especially because British Airways is and always has been a full service airline. I wouldn’t compare it to Ryanair or Easyjet but I agree, I might have to now if they are doing things that warrant it.

  11. Wow, that is quite a PR spin they tried to pull. And failed. I mean… I get switching to paid food if you decrease prices and offer vouchers or partial refunds.. But this is not a low cost airline… I just don’t get what they were thinking when writing that email. Or reaching the conclusion that charging the same for less is a good idea.

  12. Thank you Anne for sharing this. Avios – you’ll be able to use them at the rate at roughly 0.8p per Avio. Not a great return.

    Paying for food – I don’t mind paying for better quality food. However I would expect a cheaper ticket, which of course is not going to happen. So effectively, we’ve been conned.

    • Thanks for that info. Yes I’m inclined to agree with you. I find British Airways expensive on short haul routes and at £200 plus for many tickets, I do expect a free drink!

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