Confirmed: BA partner with M&S for buy-on-board catering

Well folks, it’s official. British Airways have announced a partnership with the upmarket supermarket M&S; whom are to provide select food and drink offerings on short-haul flights… promoted as a buy-on-board offering. Unsurprisingly, this has enraged many flyers.

BA’s short-haul product has always been popular with travellers for the sole reason there are no hidden extras. Passengers buying a standard Euro Traveller (Economy) fare could look forward to benefits which included a checked bag, and complimentary food and drink offerings… although this was at a premium price compared to the low-cost carriers operating on the same routes.

If you cast your mind back to March 2013, BA realised they needed to think of something to entice the “low-cost generation” to fly on their aircraft… hence the introduction of the Hand Baggage Only fare – which is actually popular. This revelation continues the trend that the legacy carrier are trying to appeal to the wider market; and the a move would allow for them to slash their fares even further, enabling BA to try to regain some of the marketshare they have lost to carriers such as Ryanair, easyJet, Norwegian, and even Aer Lingus and Iberia- whom are also part of IAG. All these airlines do currently offer a buy-on-board catering proposition, but this is a first for BA.

The aviation market is complicated at the best of times; but as Gatwick is seen as more of a “leisure hub” than Heathrow; could be expected to see more passengers warming to the buy-on-board proposition at the West Sussex Airport?

Photo courtesy of Marks & Spencer PLC

Photo courtesy of Marks & Spencer PLC

Why M&S?

Marks and Spencer are a British institution. Since opening for the first time in 1884, the retailer has become a fundamental part of the British high street. It’s supermarket division, M&S Food; prides itself on delivering only the best quality produce at a reasonable price. From traditional sandwiches to seasonal wraps, salads and dips, to popcorn, crisps, and treats from the bakery… M&S products are always a popular option. Two iconic British brands working together sounds like a great option to me.

There were a few reports saying that BA may have teamed up with Waitrose (there is actually a small store inside BA’s Head Office near Heathrow); but I actually don’t mind M&S at all. Besides, Waitrose currently provide products to the intercontinental rail operator Eurostar – whom are classed as a competitor… especially on those cross-channel routes. Recently M&S were an official parter to The Patrons Lunch; a celebration of HM The Queen’s patronage to hundreds of charities on the occasion of her 90th Birthday… where they served up more than 10,000 afternoon tea’s to visitors along The Mall in London.

 

 

 

What about the customer?

In terms of the customer experience, I know this news is not going to go down well with BA’s loyal frequent flyers; whom regard the airline as a Premium Service Carrier whom are stooping to a new low. But short-haul catering on BA is hit and miss… sometimes you might find yourself with a Bacon Roll (on an early morning flight), but then just a granola bar and small packet of pretzels on another. This could actually be something which will guarantee that “unmistakable M&S quality” but at a cost.

When can we expect for Britain’s flagship carrier to feature M&S’ Signature Bacon Bap, Lochmuir Smoked Salmon Sandwiches and the delectable Percy Pigs in the skies? It will be launching on all domestic and short-haul flights from London Heathrow and London Gatwick from January.

A sample menu was released which included some pricing information. I have taken a few of the offerings and provided the cost of them below. All items include VAT; and payment will be available using credit/debit cards, contactless and ApplePay; and even by spending your Avios.

Breakfast

CAFE Bacon Bap – £4.75
Tomato and Mozzarella Focaccia – £4.75
Classic Fruit Salad – £3.10
Yoghurt with Summer Berry Compote and Cruncy Granola – £1.95

Lunch

Aberdeen Angus Beef, Red Onion Chutney & Mustard on a Soft Onion Bloomer – £4.75
Mature Cheddar Cheese Ploughman’s – £3.00

Snacks

Hand Cooked Crisps (various varieties) – £1.00
Chocolate Pretzels and Candy Popcorn – £2.45
Super Nut, Fruit and Seed Bar – £1.45
Oriental Snack Mix – £2.00
Percy Pigs – £1.85

Drinks

Java Republic Fresh Hand Roasted Coffee – £2.30
English Breakfast Tea – £2.30
Coca Cola (300ml) – £1.80
Harrogate Still Water (500ml) – £1.80

Final Thoughts

Just to note… BA’s Club Europe cabin is not affected; and the complimentary drinks and snacks will remain as is. Although, BA have said it’s Premium customers are more than welcome to purchase any of the items from the M&S selection. -_-.

So what do you think about the announcement? Is this a good or bad move from British Airways and M&S?

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