Airlines around the world are adjusting service protocols in light of coronavirus. It’s interesting to note the vastly different approaches that airlines are taking.
For example, comparing premium cabin service:
- Lufthansa will continue to offer the same service they’ve always offered in first class
- Emirates will continue to offer all the same food & drinks in first class, but will just serve them more efficiently
- Turkish will simply offer cold snack boxes, and won’t serve coffee or tea, even in business class on long haul flights
We now have a sense of what British Airways’ new meal service concept will look like.
British Airways’ new onboard catering
As of June 16, 2020, British Airways will be introducing new onboard catering. It’s expected that this will be on offer for at least a few months, though we’ll have to see how this evolves.
For the past several weeks the airline has had virtually no service, even in first class on a long haul flight. You’d simply find a bag at your seat upon boarding with a wrapped sandwich, a Kit Kat, and a bottle of water.
That’s finally changing, as British Airways will be introducing a new catering concept that minimizes interaction while offering a more substantial service than before. All meals will be served in snack boxes.
What should you expect if flying British Airways?
First class catering
In first class British Airways will offer a boxed salad, appetizer, bread, a hot dish, and a trio of desserts. First class is the only cabin in which British Airways will be serving any hot food.
For long haul daytime flights, a (boxed) traditional afternoon tea will be served before landing, with sandwiches, scones, and macarons.
Business class (Club World) catering
In long haul business class a cold meal will be served, including a salad, sandwich, cheese and crackers, and dessert. If you’re going to be hungry during the flight then you might want to pack your own snacks, because it doesn’t look like much food.
On overnight flights there will be a cold breakfast, including yogurt, granola, a muffin, and more.
Business class (Club Europe) catering
In short haul business class a cold snack will be served, which on daytime flights could include a sandwich, small appetizer, and small dessert.
Premium economy (World Traveller Plus) & economy (World Traveller) catering
Long haul premium economy and long haul economy will feature the same meal service, which could include a small sandwich, appetizer, and dessert.
For breakfast you could expect a sandwich, some bread, and a yogurt.
Economy class (Euro Traveller) catering
In short haul economy British Airways used to have a buy on board concept, but right now just serves free water and a packaged snack. In many ways that’s actually an improvement over the old service.
What about drink services?
British Airways will resume drink services, including of alcohol. Personally I’m curious to see what this looks like in practice:
- In first class will they constantly offer drink refills, or will they serve a drink with a meal and that’s it?
- Will they offer the same alcohol as usual, or will the selection be watered down given that service perhaps won’t be as extensive?
As you can see, airlines are taking different approaches to onboard service in light of coronavirus. Personally I respect whatever approach airlines choose to take in the short-term. Flying won’t be fun no matter what for a while, and I recognize that there’s no right or wrong answer in terms of what service should be provided.
I will say that British Airways’ new catering looks like a significant improvement over the current situation, so I commend them for that. That being said, British Airways definitely took more of the Turkish Airlines approach, rather than the Emirates, Lufthansa, or SWISS approach.
What do you make of British Airways’ new onboard catering?