Today is the day that many passengers have been looking forward to, or the complete opposite. British Airways have completely revamped their short-haul catering proposition and have brought in the upmarket supermarket chain M&S whom will be providing a buy-on-board offering to customers seated in the Euro Traveller cabin.
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 used to 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 market share 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 the legacy carrier.
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?
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 that the new did not go down down well with many of BA’s loyal frequent flyers; whom regard the airline as a Premium Service Carrier. But short-haul catering on BA has been hit and miss for a long time. 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. The move to the new catering proposition should guarantee that “unmistakable M&S quality” which we all know, but at a cost.
A sample menu was released a few months ago 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. You can also purchase items using Avios; which is the currency used for BA’s Executive Club frequent flyer programme. You can view the full food and drinks menu right here.
Smoked British Bacon Roll (Served hot) – £4.75 / 600 Avios
Buffalo Mozzarella and Tomato Focaccia (Served hot) – £4.95 / 625 Avios
Aberdeen Angus Beef, Red Onion Chutney & Mustard on a Soft Onion Bloomer – £4.75 / 600 Avios
Classic Fruit Salad – £3.50 / 450 Avios
Yoghurt with Summer Berry Compote and Crunchy Granola – £1.95 / 250 Avios
Percy Pig (Sweets) – £1.85 / 225 Avios
Kit Kat (4 finger) – £1.20 / 150 Avios
Brownie Bar – £1.45 / 175 Avios
Java Republic Coffee (120z cup) – £2.30 / 300 Avios
Twinings English Breakfast Tea – £2.30 / 300 Avios
Cadbury Hot Chocolate – £2.70 / 350 Avios
Coca Cola (330ml Can) – £1.80 / 225 Avios
Highland Spring Still Water (500ml) – £1.80 / 225 Avios
Bombay Sapphire Gin (50ml) – £4.50 / 575 Avios
Processo Bottega Gold (200ml) £6.00 / 750 Avios
Just to note… BA’s Club Europe cabin has not been affected and the complimentary drinks and snacks offered to premium customers remains as is. That being said, customers flying in Club Europe and the new business-class proposition on Domestic flights (launching later) are more than welcome to purchase items from the “M&S Onboard” range.
Have you flown with BA today and experienced the new offering? I’d love to hear your thoughts!