BREAKING: British Airways restore pre-COVID First & Club drinks, meals and tableware

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Often as a blogger, I am told information in confidence which I need to sit on to protect my sources. I first heard yesterday that British Airways was planning to return to using proper cutlery, glasses, and plates onboard next month. Fortunately, now it is in the public domain I can talk about it.

BA originally introduced the plastic cups, meal boxes, and economy drinks for all cabins in response to the government’s guidelines at the start of the pandemic. In the meantime, some airlines continued to offer a full service but with the meal all on one tray such as Qatar, and others such as Virgin bought back a more reduced one tray service that was still a premium product. BA has been lagging behind for some time.

The airline did have a phased plan for bringing back the full service, but it has been so incrementally slow it will be interesting to see how many loyal customers they have left by then! I know a large number of frequent flyers that would normally be only buying BA/oneworld that have been buying Virgin and Swiss tickets in the sales.

It’s been a risky strategy from BA in my eyes. While they need to save money, a better strategy may be to actually tempt customers back with an equal or better service as your rivals. The majority of the travel recovery now and for the foreseeable future are leisure travellers, and they do care about what champagne you are serving! Looking at the sales for the Virgin £999 sale, people are ready to buy tickets. For example, normally I would be looking at flying in First on BA when there are reasonable deals, why would I have booked what is basically a slightly better seat than the Club Suite with marginally better food than economy and economy drinks? It’s also a shame they did not announce this before Black Friday which seems an error in judgment to me. 

 

What’s coming back and when?

Club World – how it used to look

Here is what is coming back:

  • pre-COVID standard First and Club glasses, china, and cutlery
  • a la carte dining and dine on demand in First
  • full meal service in Club
  • signature afternoon tea
  • full sleep amenities which presumably means the full Club bedding
  • special meals

We know that it will be reintroduced from 20 January with the crew being briefed early next month. What we don’t know is whether anything will be restored before or it will just appear on 20 January. I am due to return from a trip just before the 20th so I am hoping it will be in by then so I can see what the change is like. If not I have another trip in early February with the Club Suites too so I will bring you a full report!

Overall it is good news and I do have confidence in Sean Doyle as the new CEO. It’s a shame it has taken this long and is going to take them another 7 weeks to bring it back. It would have been nice for those travelling at Christmas to get the new service. My recent flight to Barbados was definitely not a premium experience food-wise although at least they now have hot meals, though you are out of luck if you don’t like curry!

What do you think about the current Club and First service on BA? Did it stop you booking a ticket with them? Let us know in the comments below. 

 

 

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15 Comments on "BREAKING: British Airways restore pre-COVID First & Club drinks, meals and tableware"

  1. I have cancelled two trips this month with BA and rebookeed onto Virgin and Lufthansa/Swiss only because of their poor excuse of a service in First and Club World. Really disappointing that service will not resume in time for Christmas travels 🙁

  2. I am a BA Executive Club Gold card holder and am not buying any premium class tickets until the full service is resumed. As it stands, I will burn the Avis I still have and will probably choose for the best deals on any airline and EasyJet for European flights. More freedom, more variety, less loyalty.

  3. Some corrections there, First bedding, PJS, slippers and wash bags have been onboard for months. Unsure if they ever even left tbh, if they did it was only for a month or two.

  4. Mr Ian F MORRIS | 1 December 2020 at 8:21 pm | Reply

    I have cancelled two first class and one club flight for my wife and I as a result of the dismal offerings in both classes!

  5. I normally fly with BA, unfortunately due to their scrimping tactics my money is now with Swiss. I must admit my other choice is Qatar, but no lounge access from Lisbon means my money is once again going to Swiss.

  6. @Ian – If you have Oneworld sapphire and above you still get lounge access even on QR’s new Business Classic fares 🙂

  7. Cost cutting was no excuse when other airlines have been serving as near as normal as possible. By serving in plastic glasses it’s as if they’re saying the glass wasn’t hygienic enough in ‘normal’ times! I’ve got to book flights this month for next years Singapore- Sydney & in January for New Zealand – Sydney, no way will I book BA unfortunately they have become inferior over the years, cost cutting, presentation also leaves a lot to be desired, paper sachets of salt etc in business, so cheap skate. They’re expensive & even if competitive until service resumes & eventually improves I will not fly long haul.

  8. Hi Michele. Thanks for the update and I agree, this is great news.
    I cancelled my BGI month long trip in November because of great concerns about travelling generally as my other half had a liver transplant five years ago and whilst he’s fit and well, he is immunosuppressed and therefore high risk. When I’ve contributed to your blog,
    I’ve felt somewhat slightly embarrassed moaning about BA using the pandemic as a way of saving money on catering but having worked all of my career in the travel industry at Board level, (now retired), I’ve witnessed BA’s ‘commercial strategy’ on all sorts of issues over the years and often felt on so many aspects that they have shot themselves in the foot. THE WITHDRAWAL OF PREMIUM CATERING IS NO EXCEPTION and I have been genuinely appalled at their strategy.
    We were stuck in Oz and returned from SYD at the end of May, protected on QR by BA who had ceased SYD SIN by then and whilst we were shocked to see QR crew in full hazmat gear for the 14 hour flight to DOH and the same on to LHR, the (TRAY) service was superb. Full bar service, beautifully prepared food and great service whilst protecting passengers and themselves. BA on the other hand….And I suspect so many regular customers of theirs would have come to the same conclusion: BA are trying to save money here.
    Reading comments on your piece today, I can see that the lack of catering has made a complete difference to some readers who have switched carriers because of it and I completely understand that. When I travel, I treat myself and having been spoiled by working in this incredible industry over the years, I won’t compromise on this, so I am absolutely sure that BA will have customers switching to other carriers in order to enjoy pretty much a full premium service. Now that they are switching it back on, WHY ON EARTH IS IT TAKING SO LONG? They are missing a big opportunity to impress customers over a key travel period, especially as this morning’s news is all about the vaccine roll out. Whist I can take a critical view of BA from an industry perspective, I have been complimentary about their new collaboration with DO&CO which is pretty impressive.
    Another own goal BA. And how about refunding my downgrade from F to J on my SYD LHR as QR were only operating their A350’s without F- I’ve been waiting since JUNE for the differential. My message to BA and their new team-Get your finger out and get the catering back with a sense of urgency and service. A POOR SHOW BA…Sorry for the long moan but I cannot for the life of me understand why BA constantly want to take two steps forward and four back and lose customers as a result.

  9. Hi Michele,

    As I am just about to resume travelling, I can also confirm that I have avoided buying my long haul flights with BA for this very reason.

    Despite the fact that the latest BA 777-300ER with the new First occasionally flies on the route, I decided that it wasn’t worthwhile paying the price they want but without the proper service.

    Hopefully the result of the Covid-19 test will be clear and I will be flying out soon.

    Let me take this opportunity to wish you and your colleagues and contributors a merry Christmas and a happy new year (a little early, but I don’t know if I will be reading the site every day whilst travelling).

  10. CavallinoRampante | 2 December 2020 at 1:20 pm | Reply

    Like many of the comments above, I have been appalled at BA’s cynical attitude in restricting in-flight service with COVID as the excuse. Other airlines have offered full service now for months, and BA has certainly lost future business from me on flights to Asia where the alternatives are many and better. It goes with their other cynical behaviour with there recording when contacting their call-centres stating that delays are inevitable because they are concerned for the “well-being” of their employees. Those that they haven’t made redundant under the cover of COVID, presumably.

  11. I agree with others above that this is a big deal for many people. If you’re going to pay for a premium product, you want to get that premium product, and this extends beyond just the seat itself. The amenities/service are a big part of the flight and without getting a large discount (which doesn’t look to have happened) it’s absolutely fair to want and expect things like this. Especially when the likes of Qatar and Emerites have had these back for a while now.

    Me and my fiancée have booked to fly with BA in club to the Maldives on 16th January (should have been our honeymoon, however the wedding was postponed due to covid so it’s now a pre wedding minimoon?! to cheer us up) and neither of us have ever flown Business class before (only things like Saga class on Iceland air which is not really a comparison) so it would be really disappointing to miss out on the full experience by 4 days as definitely for us as first time Club class flyers, it would be a great to get as full as experience as possible. Here’s hoping BA get it introduced earlier than the deadline date!

  12. I agree with others above that this is a big deal for many people. If you’re going to pay for a premium product, you want to get that premium product, and this extends beyond just the seat itself. The amenities/service are a big part of the flight and without getting a large discount (which doesn’t look to have happened) it’s absolutely fair to want and expect things like this. Especially when the likes of Qatar and Emerites have had these back for a while now.

    Me and my fiancée have booked to fly with BA in club to the Maldives on 16th January (should have been our honeymoon, however the wedding was postponed due to covid so it’s now a pre wedding minimoon?! to cheer us up) and neither of us have ever flown Business class before (only things like Saga class on Iceland air which is not really a comparison) so it would be really disappointing to miss out on the full experience by 4 days as definitely for us as first time Club class flyers, it would be a great to get as full as experience as possible. Here’s hoping BA get it introduced earlier than the deadline date!

  13. I so hope they manage to get this done before the 20th. Me and my fiancée are going to the maldives on 16th January on what should have been our honeymoon. Our wedding got cancelled due to Covid but couldn’t bring ourselves to cancel. We’ve never flow club class and decided to given it was a special holiday, so will be gutting if we miss out on the full experience for the sake of 4 days!

  14. I’ve just cancelled our Club bookings to Singapore and Bangkok. My other half is celiac and has been told “bring his own food” !!! Not a chance. They can shove their flights. I wish Virgin flew to more places in Asia,

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