British Airways is to introduce pre-ordering of main course meals for passengers travelling in World Traveller Plus premium economy, Club World business class and First Class on select long-haul flights departing from Monday 1 December 2014.
This move has been long anticipated. Indeed, it was originally announced a year ago.
At first, the option to pre-order meals will only be available on long-haul flights to Dallas Fort-Worth, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Rio de Janeiro, Seattle and Vancouver.
Passengers will be able to pre-order meals from Tuesday 18 November via the Manage My Booking tool.
Update: This service has now been extended to flights from London Heathrow to Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Houston, Austin and San Diego for travel after 5 February 2015.
In addition, from 1 February 2015 pre-ordering of meals will be available on flights between London Heathrow and Atlanta, Denver, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore, Toronto, Montreal and Calgary that depart after 1 March 2015. (Source: BA trade website.)
If history is anything to go by, the system should be rolled out to more long-haul flights relatively quickly if the trial is successful.
In the interests of expectations management, the system will only enable passengers to guarantee their first choice of main meal from the existing in-flight menu.
There will not be a larger selection along the lines of Singapore Airlines’ “Book The Cook” facility.
In-flight catering is an area where BA seems to continually oscillate between investing in catering as a point of differentiation (see the Heston Blumenthal initiative) and then reversing investments through cut-backs.
By its own admission, BA is currently in another phase of extremely tight cost-control, so at the very minimum this project will be self-funding by reducing wastage.