BA plans new food & beverage and in-flight amenities for Club World

BA plans a radical improvement to its Club World business class catering, starting on the New York JFK route in Autumn 2017.

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A typical British Airways Club World meal tray

Any one who has flown British Airways’ Club World long-haul business class on more than a handful of occasions will be more than familiar with the in-flight service.

It begins with the offer of pre-take off drinks of champagne, orange juice and water. The hot towels, amenity kits and bottles of water are dispatched. There is a bar and main meal service, with one choice of coffee to follow. A widely varying offer of snacks are available in the self-service Club Kitchen. Before landing there is a second meal service, typically Afternoon Tea or a light breakfast, depending on the direction of travel.

Over the years the catering budget has gone up and down, depending on external and internal financial pressures. There have been small initiatives, such as the Heston Blumenthal inspired “Height Cuisine”, changes to the presentation of meals and the ability to pre-order a main course. The Club Kitchen gets periodically gutted and restocked. The quantity of sandwiches and cake for Afternoon Tea has been forever tweaked with. However, the service has fundamentally remained the same.

Today, BA has unveiled planned changes to its Club World business class with specific changes to catering and the in-flight service.  This was first announced at its parent company’s (IAG) Capital Markets Day late last year.

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BA promises major investment in Club World

British Airways has outlined its initial plans to invest in its long-haul business class cabin, Club World. These include radical changes to food & beverage, new bedding and new service routines designed to maximise the available time for sleeping on flights.

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British Airways Investment Plan for Club World (Image Credit: International Airlines Group)

BA has announced today (4 November 2016) at the Capital Markets Day of its parent company, International Airlines group, a significant investment in its Club World long-haul business class cabin.

At the outset, we should say this is unlikely to involve BA removing its “yin-yang” 2-4-2 Club World seating configuration from existing long-haul aircraft.

A new Club World seat is planned for the Airbus A350 aircraft which is not due to enter service for some time. However, this is expected to maintain the 2-4-2 configuration, but with modifications to provide direct aisle access for all.

Whilst this is uncompetitive against many airlines which have introduced business class seats with all aisle access, BA favours the density of seating afforded by this configuration.

What BA does promise is a significant improvement in food & beverage through, for example, the ability to pre-order a wider range of meals online in advance of a flight and a complete redesign of the in-flight service.

BA also promises investment in cabin crew training and an improvements to cabin ambience to provide a better environment for sleeping (we’re not quite sure what that will be).

In the interests of expectations management, this investment is unlikely to involve increases in cabin crew numbers in the cabin nor changes to the size of the galleys on the aircraft, so we would not expect anything truly radical.  BA is also not likely to introduce anything that adds significant weight to aircraft or could result in high levels of wastage.

No date has been set for the changes. However, when they are implemented it is likely they will be introduced gradually across the route network.

You can view the full slide deck from the Capital Markets Day here.

More to read on BA Club World:

BA introduces catering improvements to World Traveller & Club World

London Air Travel » British Airways » British Airways Club World

BA Club World Cabin - 2006 (Image Credit: British Airways)
BA Club World Cabin – 2006 (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has announced it is to introduce a series of improvements to in flight catering in World Traveller economy and Club World business class.

The improvements to World Traveller include an improved main meal tray with a better starter. Cheese and biscuits will also be added on most outbound flights from London Heathrow and London Gatwick (except flights to India, Japan and Korea).
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BA set to maintain “yin-yang” Club World on Boeing 787-10 & Airbus A350 aircraft

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Club World on Boeing 787 Dreamliner
Club World on Boeing 787 Dreamliner (Image Credit: Nick Morrish/British Airways)

Some time ago we wrote about a patent application by British Airways in respect of a new business class seat which would afford all business class passengers direct aisle access.

With American Airlines, Air France, Cathay Pacific, Finnair and others introducing new business class seats which provide all passengers with direct aisle access, British Airways has maintained its typically eight across “yin-yang” business class cabin on all recent deliveries of new aircraft.

The reason for this is the efficiency of the cabin layout and that BA flies a number of routes with very high business class demand (such that some 747s are to have business class seating increased from 70 to 86 seats and its A380s have 97 business class seats).

The patent application did prompt speculation that BA would abandon the “ying yang” layout on future deliveries of Boeing 787-10 and Airbus A350-1000 aircraft.

However, IAG CEO Willie Walsh was asked about whether there were any plans to introduce an entirely new seat at a recent investor update and this is what he had to say:
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BA’s Business Class Dilemma: How & when to introduce direct aisle access for all?

British Airways is responsible for launching fully flat beds in long-haul business class with its patented “yin-yang” layout. However, its cabins are now falling behind the competition as most of is competitors now offer cabins with all seats having direct access to the aisle.

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BA Club World IFE Screen
BA Club World IFE Screen (Image Credit: British Airways)

It was some fifteen years ago in May 1999 that British Airways shook up the market for long-haul business class travel with the launch of its fully flat Club World “flying bed”.

Designed by Tangerine, it was arguably the singlest biggest innovation since the original introduction of business class (which Qantas claims credit for.)

BA Club World Cabin (Image Credit: British Airways)

Continue reading “BA’s Business Class Dilemma: How & when to introduce direct aisle access for all?”

BA to trial pre-ordering of meals in First & Club World on London – New York JFK

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BA Club World Cabin - 2006 (Image Credit: British Airways)
BA Club World Cabin – 2006 (Image Credit: British Airways)

Many airlines have long offered passengers in first and business class the opportunity to pre-order their meals in advance of boarding their flight. Singapore Airlines has its “Book The Cook” facility. Qantas offers the same facility under the guise of “Q Eat”.

The passenger benefits in securing their preferred choice of meal and the airline benefits in reducing wastage – catering being one of a very few areas where airlines can actually control costs.

One notable exception in offering this service is British Airways, in spite of it carrying very large volumes of first and business class passengers (some 84 on most Boeing 747s) and having one of the highest proportions of revenue attributable to first and business class traffic.

From an as yet unspecified date in the second quarter of next year (so possibly some six months away), BA is to trial the pre-ordering of meals in Club World business class and First class on the London – New York JFK route.

From what is known so far, passengers will only be able to choose from the existing menu and will not have additional menu choices (and opting out of “Afternoon Tea” does not seem to be an option!). No doubt this is being driven by the desire to reduce wastage, but it would be good to see the proceeds in any savings reinvested in the improving catering.

Update: This facility is now available on all long-haul routes from London Heathrow and Gatwick. You can pre-order your meal through the Manage My Booking tool.