Wow: British Airways Switches Catering Contract To DO & CO

Earlier I wrote about how Turkish Airlines plans to introduce a new business class seat next year. I noted Turkish Airlines is generally considered to be a good carrier, despite having an uncompetitive hard product. Their service isn’t amazing but what does set them apart is their incredible food.

It’s among the best of any airline, in both business class and economy.

Turkish Airlines Business Class

Of course their excellent food is driven by Turkish Airlines management, which designs and rolls out the menus and food styles. But it is their caterer, DO & CO, which delivers it for them. DO & CO also caters Austrian flights, which are also known for their excellent catering.

DO & CO is considered one of the best (if not the best) airline caters in the world.

Austrian Business Class

British Airways

On the other end of the spectrum, British Airways has a business class that is, to put it mildly, not well regarded.

There are plenty of issues with British Airways’ hard and soft product in business (and first) class, but they are in no hurry to improve the experience, or so I thought earlier this year when I wrote about this topic as my audition article to join the team here at OMAAT (did you all work out that was me?).

British Airways Club World

British Airways has announced minor improvements that take a laughably long time to roll out. But they have just announced what may be their biggest and best improvement yet.

The catering contract for all outbound flights from Heathrow, British Airways’ biggest hub, is coming up for renewal. Currently Gate Gourmet and DHL provide the catering for these flights.

The new contract, commencing from 2020, has been awarded to DO & CO, which should in theory improve the standard of catering for British Airways flights from Heathrow, especially in premium cabins, where they have more budget to play with.

I understand DO & CO has already been providing catering for New York and Chicago flights.

Roadkill? No, this is a current British Airways First Class meal

For short haul flights where British Airways operates a buy-on-board service in economy, the food will continue being provided by Marks & Spencer.

Unfortunately the contract for catering Gatwick flights will be catered by Newrest under the new contract (and not DO & CO). They already provide the catering for most London City flights.

Bottom line

I have to hand it to British Airways. If they were to choose any new caterer for the majority of their flights I cannot think of a better choice than DO & CO.

Unfortunately the new contract does not commence until 2020 but it will be interesting to see what DO & CO can do with the (presumably limited) budgets British Airways provides them to work with.

I would assume they charge more per meal than Gate Gourmet would (as they are a far more premium caterer) — hopefully this means British Airways will spend more money on catering each meal (especially in business and first class) rather than reducing the equivalent spend per meal because the caterer is more expensive.

Would DO & CO catering entice you to fly British Airways?

(Tip of the hat to Head For Points)

Comments

  1. Yes it would, although very tentatively. They need to do something about their miserable and arrogant staff too!

  2. Does DO & CO currently cater for any airline’s first class? Would be interesting to see how well they are able to differentiate between biz and first or if that will be entirely up to the airline.

  3. Surely your excitement ought to be tempered until it becomes clearer whether Do&Co will be operating to similar budgets to those provided to it by Turkish and Austrian? It’s already well known that the BA LHR-JFK-LHR flights are lavished with a more generous catering budget than all BA’s other long haul routes, and so it makes sense to think that this fact is going to go quite some way to explain the better quality food offered on these services. After all, even a well-regarded catering company can’t do that much with peanuts…

  4. Maybe Lufthansa will finally get a clue and use DO&CO in-flight. Their subsidiary Austrian uses it, and LH even uses DO&CO (if I’m not mistaken) in their F lounges. But not in-flight. Every time I fly LH business class I read in their menus about the lengths they’re going to improve the food (customer surveys, new seasonal selections, new service concept …) and each time after tasting the food I wonder why they bothered at all and don’t just use DO&CO.

  5. This is great news as I normally fly Turkish across the pond. I only wish they made the switch before the British Airways Pittsburgh inagural in April.

  6. James, I’d just like to point out that DO & CO is an Austrian company (with a restaurant in Vienna). Austrian used them first and then Turkish started to use them (when the overhauled their airline in 2007) and not the other way around as your article suggests.

  7. BA Do&Co catering to NYC is great. But not on par with OS. Still, a huge leap forward.
    I have always tried just today (rollout day) the new Club Europe Do&Co caterin in Club Europe on a Madrid to Heathrow flight. I was impressed.

  8. I’m not sure if it’s your handsome face there, your writing, or both; I love your articles, James.

    The roadkill caption is 10/10.

  9. Changing vendors hardly does anything for the food on its own. Virtually any vendor can make any menu the airline request.

    Its really about the menus airlines develop the quality of ingredients called for. Obviously driving this is the money they are willing to pay for this.

  10. Yes, I worked out that article was yours because of the wanton use of bolded words. Please continue to cut back.

    @Dean what did you just say

  11. I believe a big reason for the long wait between announcement and roll out is due to the size of the Do&Co catering kitchen at LHR. They will have to increase the size of it considerably to accommodate BA’s catering from its hub and this obviously won’t happen overnight.

    On the flipside, I imagine Gate Gourmet will see a downsizing. BA was their biggest contract at LHR.

  12. Mattt – He’s getting a lot better, only 50% (or 25% if you’re feeling generous) of the bolding doesn’t make much sense in this article!

  13. I have had do and co on both Turkish and Austrian a few times and was never particularly impressed. Was especially underwhelming on Austrian and was quite the letdown after reading all the stellar reviews. On the other hand I did have that southern fried chicken abortion on BA this summer Lhr to Yvr and it was as bad as it looks so anything is an improvement. Have a couple of legs on Austrian next week so will see. My favourite meals have been Brussels air to Jfk and I love Eva catering.

  14. Having taken the “new, improved” Club World on LHR-JFK route a couple times now, the food is a vast improvement over the old Club World catering, a very noticeable difference. On this specific route the food is frankly better than many “top” airlines with much better hard products than BA (looking at you, Cathay) so this is a very positive step forward.

    Having said that the biggest change so far has been the new bedding (that took a year to roll out!), and until they can invest in a new seat, or certainly at the very least refurbish the filthy old seats and IFE screens/systems on their older 744s and 772s then this will not be a big enough change to swing anyone’s choice of airline.

  15. You do realise that the company makes almost no difference, right?
    It’s the paying client who decides what budget to spend

  16. @ Matt, @ Callum,

    Spot on!

    @ James,

    In your case, “to put it mildly” in bold text should be “to put it strongly”. It takes more than a few years living in London for an Aussie to get a permit to use irony.

  17. I will never understand why James bolds words and phrases the way he does. If the goal is to allow readers to get the gist of the article without reading the whole thing and only going by the bolded words, it’s still doesn’t make sense.

    It cheapens the content and legitimacy of OMAAT, making it hard to live up to more professional blogs like TPG. Then again, we’ll probably never stop reading Ben’s catch phrases like “best I can’t tell,” “for what it’s worth,” “I had assigned myself,” “service was well intentioned,” “I was proactively offered,” and my personal faves of “given” and “furthermore”.

  18. Hi Lucky! I just used your link for CSR and got approved!

    Out of LAX, Gate Gourmet caters for BA but I was not to my taste and since I have to travel for work every 3 weeks on BA to London I now just always order the KSML Kosher meals and they are actually wonderful and made by Inflight Delite Kosher. You get an awesome breakfast, large snack box and dinner. Way better than BA’s vegetarian offering too IMO.

  19. Ben phrase: “…in my opinion.” Well, whose else are we reading?

    Club World needs new hard product ASAP. All aisle access. Two middle seats, both requiring clambering over sleeping outer pax, on some planes is ridiculous. Just watched the old first-A380 video and the pilot from central casting presenting it trilled about the middle seat in the CW top deck cabin likely being a favourite with business class pax travelling alone. It sure wasn’t with the young lady between me and a colleague a while back. “Thought I finished gymnastics with high school” was the most printable comment.

    Let’s see what the new catering’s like. 18 months to gear up is slow.

  20. Hi James,
    I want to reach out and congratulate you and say you are really starting to find
    a rythym to your posts regarding better content and interesting view points
    I wasn’t so sure early on when you came on board and I probably wouldn’t have said anything if I didn’t have something positive to say
    As for the poster above who doesn’t like your bolding
    Don’t change a thing I like the formatting just the way you do it and either way I’m not sure it makes a big difference either way but imho it works just fine
    If I was a blogger I would prob do the same thing
    Cheers

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