British Airways to introduce paid-for long-haul economy meal options on selected London Heathrow flights from 12 May

British Airways has confirmed that passengers travelling on selected flights in its “World Traveller” long-haul economy cabin will have the option of purchasing an alternative three course meal tray, in lieu of the standard “Chicken Or Beef?” meal offered to all passengers.

The alternative meals will cost from £15 to £18 and will be available for passengers to pre-order in advance. The trays on offer are “Gourmet Dining”, “Taste of Britain”, “Great British Breakfast”, “Healthy Choice” and “Vegetarian Kitchen”.

Passengers will be able to purchase a meal between 30 days and 24 hours before departure. Full details are on the BA website.

BA has also published a full list of frequently asked questions on its trade website.

We understand that the loading of economy meals leaves very little margin, so we expect that these will not be available for purchase on board.

The trial will begin on flights from London Heathrow to Atlanta, Austin, Denver, Dallas Fort Worth, Houston, Mexico, Miami, San Diego, Seattle, and Phoenix. It does not apply to inbound flights to London Heathrow. It also only applies to BA operated flights, and not codeshares operated by American Airlines. If history is anything go by, it should be rolled out across the long-haul network fairly quickly.

Update June 2015: The service now operates on the following London Heathrow routes: Abu Dhabi, Atlanta, Austin, Bahrain, Baltimore, Boston, Buenos Aries, Calgary, Cape Town, Chicago, Dallas Ft Worth, Denver, Dubai, Houston, Jeddah, Johannesburg, Kuwait, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Miami, Montreal, New York – John F. Kennedy, New York – Newark, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Rio De Janeiro, Riyadh, San Diego, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, and Washington DC.

BA is not the first airline to do this. KLM and Air France offer the opportunity to buy a premium meal.

There are two ways this development can be viewed.

Some will see it as the start of a gradual unbundling of the long-haul economy product that will inevitably lead to charges for drinks and checking in bags. An alternative view is that it allows those who value the meal aspect of economy travel to pay more for something a little better in a cabin that operates on very tight margins. And as technology advances passengers will increasingly pay for precisely what they want rather than everyone in the same cabin receiving an identical service.

Here’s the current menu and price list:

Gourmet Dining (£18)
Poached king prawn lightly dressed in a traditional marie-rose sauce
Braised Herefordshire beef cheek with potato mousseline, roasted root vegetables and Madeira shallot jus
Chocolate Ganache bar with passion fruit coulis and crushed toasted hazelnuts

Taste of Britain (£16)
Loch Fyne smoked salmon with crème fraiche and caper berries
Slow roasted Wiltshire pork belly with celeriac mash and sauteed broccolini
Summer berry pudding with Cornish clotted cream

Great British Breakfast (£15)
Seasonal fresh fruits
Freshly baked bread including selection of madeleines
Traditional British breakfast featuring Cumberland sausage & mature cheddar omelette
Chunky cherry compote with Greek yoghurt and homemade granola

Healthy Choice (£15)
Thai style rice rolls with sesame dipping sauce
Sustainably sourced poached cod en papillote with steamed seasonal vegetables
Greek yoghurt and honey mousse bar with grapefruit carpaccio

Vegetarian Kitchen (£15)
Glazed goats cheese with marinated beetroot salad
Polenta crespelle with mascarpone & wilted spinach, wild mushroom and truffle cream sauce
Lemon meringue pie featuring homemade lemon curd

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