As was announced at the annual IAG Capital Markets Day last year, BA is to introduce improvements to catering on all World Traveller economy flights from Wednesday 17 January 2018.
In truth, much of what has been announced is a reinstatement (once again in some cases…) of items that have previously been cut.
The basic structure of the World Traveller meal service remains the same: Drinks from the bar shortly after take-off; a full meal service, and then a second meal and bar service around 90 minutes before landing.
The service in World Traveller Plus is broadly the same with the addition of pre-take off drinks and a main course from the Club World menu.
Additions to World Traveller Catering from 17 January 2018:
– BA will reinstate pretzels with the first bar service.
– The World Traveller meal tray will include a small bottle of water (rather than a cuplet) and the tray will include cheese and biscuits.
– BA will offer ice creams on day flights from London and will reinstate “tuck boxes” of snacks on overnight flights.
– Graze snack boxes will be offered on longer-range flights (see list below).
– The second meal/snack service will be improved. Last year, there was considerable, and justified, criticism after BA cut the second meal service on flights of less than eight hours to a small chocolate bar / biscuit (see the offending item below from a flight in World Traveller Plus last year). BA will reinstate the provision of a sandwich on relatively short long-haul flights such as New York.
– A second hot meal will be offered on longer range day & night flights.
In 2018, BA will increase the number of economy seats on some Boeing 777 aircraft at London Gatwick from 9 to 10 seats a row. Here are details of the routes on which the reconfigured Boeing 777s will operate in 2018.
A little over 12 months ago BA announced that it would, to use its lexicon, “densify” a select number of its Boeing 777-200 aircraft.
In short, this means that the number of seats in the World Traveller economy cabin would increase from 9 to 10 a row.
At the same time, BA will also increase the number of World Traveller Plus premium economy seats and decrease the number of Club World business class seats. The refurbished Boeing 777s are expected to enter operation at London Gatwick in 2018.
Initially, up to 25 Boeing 777s will be subject to “densification”. However, you can be confident that the financial performance of refurbished aircraft and customer feedback scores will be monitored very closely.
How do I know if I will be flying on a “densified” Boeing 777?
BA has not yet updated its general guidance seat maps on its website to include the reconfigured Boeing 777s.
However, if you are flying on a 9 abreast Boeing 777 you should see the following cabin configurations on the seat map for your reservation in the Manage My Booking tool:
Club World – Rows 1 – 11 (40 seats)
World Traveller Plus – Rows 12 – 14 (24 seats)
World Traveller – Rows 16 – 40 (3-3-3 configuration)
If you are flying on a 10 abreast Boeing 777 you should see the following cabin configurations on the seat map for your reservation in the Manage My Booking tool:
International Airlines Group (“IAG”), the parent company of Aer Lingus, BA, Iberia and Vueling has been paying a lot of attention to Norwegian of late. And it has good reason to do so. Norwegian’s rapacious growth of its low cost long-haul network has been clearly targeted at IAG airlines’ key markets of Ireland, Spain and the UK.
IAG airlines have made a number of competitive responses: BA has matched many Norwegian routes at Gatwick by launching Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, New York JFK and Oakland. It is also reconfiguring its Gatwick based Boeing 777s with more economy seats. IAG also launched a new low cost long-haul airline Level at Barcelona which is expected to expand to more European cities next year.
It is true to say that many airlines have been taken by surprise at how passengers have taken to the concept of low cost long-haul and their unbundled a-la-carte fares. Witness comments from IAG CEO Willie Walsh, who previously questioned the wisdom of charging for items such as hot meals, at its annual investor day last year:
I do not mind admitting that we looked at some things Norwegian did, and I said this publicly and I said, ‘Wow, that is interesting.’ They have actually demonstrated that consumers will accept some things that people questioned whether they would work on long-haul. Having proven this, we have let’s adopt it and we are doing that. It is not that we are trying to respond to them as a competitor. We have learned from them as a competitor and we are responding to a market opportunity.
Aer Lingus has now taken this first step. It has repackaged its fares for direct transatlantic flights from Ireland from Saturday 1 October 2017.
Under its new “Transatlantic Saver” fare, checked luggage, seating assignments and blankets and headphones are no longer included. However, passengers still receive complimentary catering and can make use of the in flight entertainment system. Presumably, this is for operational simplicity as having experienced short-haul flights where only some passengers in a cabin are entitled to free food can be quite chaotic when passengers swap seats.
The airline could start charging long-distance flyers for a menu drawn from the aisles of Mark & Spencer, Alex Cruz, BA’s boss, has revealed. The move will spark fresh claims that penny-pinching is reducing BA to “a budget airline”.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Cruz said that after “a rough start” customers now welcomed the chance to pay for M&S food on European flights. The airline’s buy-on-board system, which replaced free food on short flights in January, is “a perfect decision”, he said.
“It’s going great. Customers say to us: ‘Finally, I have good choices. No more chicken or beef’.” The service could be extended to long-haul economy. “We might do it,” he said.