British Airways Restoring Service In First & Business Class

Filed Under: British Airways

British Airways will be restoring most of its standard first and business class service in a few weeks, after significantly cutting it back in the spring of 2020. A few weeks ago these changes were first rumored, but they’ve now been confirmed by British Airways.

Let’s take a look at the current service, and then we’ll talk about what’s changing.

British Airways’ reduced coronavirus service

At the beginning of the pandemic we saw airlines around the world adjust inflight service, in order to reduce contact and minimize the amount of time people aren’t wearing masks.

British Airways made some of the most drastic cuts of any airline. At the start of the pandemic, the airline served wrapped sandwiches and candy bars, even in first class. Then in June, the airline announced it would improve its catering, though that wasn’t exactly much to get excited about:

  • All meals were served in snack boxes
  • There was only cold food, with the exception of international first class
  • There was no more glassware, but rather everything was served in cups

British Airways’ first class catering

British Airways’ business class catering

Then as of October, British Airways brought back hot food in all cabins on long haul flights, though that was still served in snack boxes

Now British Airways will be making a drastic improvement to its inflight service…

British Airways bringing back full service

As reported by Turning Left for Less, British Airways will be restoring much of its service, particularly in first class and business class, for flights as of January 20, 2021. Here’s what’s being brought back:

  • The typical first and business class china, cutlery, and glasses
  • Dine on demand in first class
  • Full meal service in long haul business class (Club World), though on a single tray
  • Hot meal service in regional business class (Club Europe)
  • The signature afternoon tea service and special meals
  • A full tray service for the main meal in long haul premium economy (World Traveller Plus) and economy (World Traveller)

Meanwhile a few things won’t be reintroduced for now:

  • Full bedding in long haul business class (Club World), as there will be no blanket or mattress topper
  • Pre-departure drinks
  • Warm towels

British Airways will be bringing back afternoon tea service

On top of that, it’s expected that the full pre-coronavirus service will be reintroduced as of April 2021, though I imagine that timeline is likely to change.

On balance I’m impressed that British Airways actually plans to reintroduce so much of its regular service. I’m especially impressed that the airline plans to bring back its usual premium drink service, including the reintroduction of its first class champagne, which hasn’t been served in recent months.

Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle will return to first class

Bottom line

British Airways is planning on resuming much of its regular service as of January 20, 2021, and then the airline plans to resume full pre-coronavirus service as of April 2021 (though I imagine the latter timeline is highly likely to change).

Are you surprised to see British Airways resuming so much onboard service as of January 2021?

  1. Do you have more information about why they won’t bring back the real full experience? I mean we all know airlines are cost-cutting, but if BA claims to reintroduce the full experience, shouldn’t we give it the benefit of doubt first?

  2. I’d rather they “restore” more practical aspects, like not being charged for seat selection, after you just dropped $6,000+ on a Club seat… but apparently that’s asking too much.

  3. @ConcordeBoy; BA have had paid seating for over 8 years now, and it usually rakes the revenue in, especially from those who have more money than sense… the current system works well for me, (I don’t have status, nor have I ever paid for seats), yet I still get good seat choices at online check-in…

    Re: restoring F amenities; could BA actually be trying to start competing on service? LH has pulled back on F availability; BA may have a chance to increase what little market share there is?

  4. I was on a Club Europe flight recently, and while the food offerings were meager, beverage service seemed unchanged. I paid £69 for the upgrade and certainly drank that much champagne en route.

  5. I have been flying BA through this pandemic and this is welcome news although sleep amenities like bedding and pj’s in club and first have been offered through out.
    @ Lucky BA negotiate and purchase their champers years in advance so i wouldnt be suprised if the lpgs reappears

  6. My mom landed in Heathrow yesterday and said it was the worst business class meal she’s ever had. Wasn’t edible and she isn’t very picky.

  7. I recently flew with Turkish and they have restored hot meals, however the rest is still served in a box. Tea and coffee are now offered but wine is still served “prepackaged.” No food on flights less than 2 hours stil in effect. This change started in November 2020.

  8. I pretty much give you the benefit but this is a silly paragraph
    …I just have a hard time imagining British Airways will be bringing back its Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle champagne in first class, for example….
    Why would it be hard to imagine? Its probably the easiest thing to reintroduce.

  9. Always think it’s very easy to complain but as someone who travelled in Club Europe every week in 2019 and who has travelled most weeks since July, the offering, although boxed, is fine apart from breakfast. It’s Do&Co, the sandwich was super tasty, the cold salad thing was similar to before and the signature chocolate mousse is the same. Plus plenty of booze. Obvs different if you’re forking out many thousands on club world but I think the general approach is to automatically knock BA when actually the service is usually actually very good and the product against airlines who aren’t state subsidised is also very competitive

  10. I am flying Emirates from JNB to LHR, not because they are cheaper than BA, but BA gave me a $110 refund for the return leg of a $1,400 ticket. And that after 7 weeks….

  11. ConcordeBoy,

    If you have gold or silver status with BA then seat selection is free. Charging others for seat selection is a way of rewarding their most profitable customers as it means they have a better choice of seats when they book.

    Besides, there are no bad seats in F and it is only a small cabin.

  12. The business class tickets are very expensive and also their is additional charge for seat selection which is also expensive,,,it’s a scheme that BA is charging for seat selection.

  13. @Tom,

    You can “reward you most profitable customers,” by means other than nickle and diming less frequent people who just dropped 4-5 figures for a seat.

    More adept airlines simply delay seat selection for non-elites; it still accomplishes the same outcome without leaving the bad taste in others who’d be happy to pay for revenue seats, but could just as easily take a continental or MidEast competitor.

  14. I flew out Business class AA LHR to Chicago in late October and recently returned via Miami to LHR on BA in club in Dec and was very disappointed in the level of service on the return flight, the Meal in the Box is frankly a cheap substitute. Is a paper cup of coffee any safer than a mug of coffee when being brought to you. Looking at options at flying back to the US later this month and BA is not high on my list.

  15. @ ConcordeBoy – that’s just how it works. If you’re spending £6k, or five figures, on a business class flight you’re going to be in the fare buckets that allow for free seat selection in J. It’s only the discount business class fare buckets that don’t come with free seat selection.

    @Tom – yes, it’s an approach that favours status holders, and rightly so in my view. Note also that all bookings in F include free seat selection by default. It’s just the other 3 cabins where the cheaper fare buckets do not.

  16. I took Turkish yesterday from Istanbul to bogota on their new business class. Bedding was excellent. Including a mattress top. Pillow could been better though. Meal service was served on a big tray. Then they pass with the main course on a plate and drop them on the big tray.
    Meal was mediocre. Yes it was a full meal but not up to Turkish standards. I had lamb and literally was no kore than 80 grams of meat.

  17. Just flew TATL Biz on BA last week. The service was disgraceful, I’d rather have gone without a meal at all. On the other hand, I do not want to complain, since Club World was crap to begin with.

  18. I flew AA International First earlier this year and it was full service on one tray which was fine. Full interaction with the crew, and no shortage of drinks. Recently flew international Biz on them, and again full service on one tray. Full drink service and bedding. Crew were excellent on both flights and NOT afraid of Corona. Unlike the KLM staff on my BOM – AMS earlier this year who were in fear.

    Until BA get’s its act together, AA is a better option. I flew BA shorthaul a few times this year, but expect very little from them so it was just fine. KL shorthaul was superior of course.

  19. They did this for what – I don’t know. The UK just closed London down, invented a new tier 4, the Netherlands completely closed all air traffic from the UK. Really BA?

  20. I suspect VS will also re-introduce full catering (not served vía a box) promptly to across all cabins.

    I wonder what DL’s timeline is reinstating catering on their transcontinental, other long haul domestic flights? It’s time to bring it back including main cabin service.

  21. Traveling Biz class from DFW to LHR in September 2021. Fingers crossed that all will be somewhat back to normal from the Admirals Club on the ground to pre-departure champagne and warm nuts onboard.

  22. hi there,
    great article makes interesting reading. however looks like BA has got cold feet and/or does not do its math, or gets to wrong! as of today 3 rd april 21, there is NOT ONE SINGLE DAY of first service from LHR to any indian destination, for the WHOLE OF APRIL AND MAY, be it to mumbai, or delhi, which were always 4 class aircraft. i am not even talking about bangalore, chennai, hyderabad where they fly but have had variable service. guess what the thinking airline LUFTHANSA has done?….introduced a 747 DASH 8 service by rotation with this fabulous aircraft from frankfurt to delhi on some days and frankfurt to bangalore some days.
    LH are no fools and it looks clear that whoever is running BA has no clue about the market…..and BTW the LH fare with their super first on the 747/8 is LOWER than BA! come on BA , if you think mumbai has no big spenders, you have clearly got it terribly wrong, and the front and reverse facing old and outdated club world cabin is really a joke, let alone the fact that LH first is now available on the germany/india sector on this magnificent aircraft. for all the inconvenience of changing a flight at frankfurt, on the way out and back to london, i would just do this for the aircraft and service on offer. looks like BA wants to become a global EASY JET, or better still a global RAYN AIR, to get out of its financial woes!! they are already carrying cargo in the passenger cabin, and operating the flights with the passenger flight numbers, but full of cargo, so they could easily do the opposite! get your act right ba…listen to your customers, instead of bombarding them with useless marketing mail that claims “ready for your next adventure….ba is ready when you are….book with reassurance…flexible bookings…”etc etc i have been bumped off on three occasions, due to change of cabin (dropping first) and am sitting with paper (vouchers) in place of real money that went out of my account! not exactly what loyal gold club members with millions of miles want! have just happily joined the miles and more programme for my next flights out and back!! sad at some level, but if you national carrier just does not want to listen to its customers, well we have a better choice…at least for now!!

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