BA to trial pre-order of meals.

Back to Forum

This topic contains 22 replies, has 15 voices, and was last updated by  SimonS1 21 Nov 2013
at 17:39

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 23 total)

  • Anonymous


    Morning all,

    It seems BA will finally adopt the facility that several carriers have already in place (AA, QF, MH, SQ spring to mind) to pre-order your choice of main meal.

    The trial will start in the second quarter of next year in F/J class on the LHR-JFK route. Providing the trial is a success it will be rolled out in F/J across the long haul network. Unlike some airlines which offer more options over the standard menu you will choose from the regular menu options only (during the trial phase anyway).

    The wifi fitted trial jumbo is also ready to launch later this month – BA do not plan on ‘marketing’ wifi onboard until at least half of the fleet are fitted.


    Just a question and I am not being sarcastic.

    Why does it take sooooo long for BA to organise these trials and why wouldn’t it be successful, when it is for other carriers? And what does success mean, reduced costs, union happy or increased customer satisfaction?

    Not having a go at you RF, this is more of an open question.

    BA is so behind the leaders in many ways at the moment, I just had an Etihad flight from AUH to LHR that was nearly perfect.

    Before Sergeant Major starts trumpeting increased profits, I suggest he takes a look at the definition of a ‘cash cow’ business.

    Eventually the cow becomes elderly and less productive and BA really does need to get some fast improvements into place.


    FormerlyDoS, I couldn’t agree more personally.

    Any change in BA takes a L O N G time. Workshops, forums, costings, consultations, trials. There are new managers that have joined BA recently from outside the airline that have brought with them fresh approaches and ways of doing things. Implementing change – quicker – has been the focus for some. Whether or not they come up against ‘the BA wall’ of old…well I guess it happens. Despite being a very different structure of fifteen years ago some people within BA still operate with the same mentality – thinking of why things can’t be done instead of how to overcome obstacles and make them do-able.

    In fairness, things do seem to be changing on that front slowly but surely. I’m sure the new managers are still frustrated at many of the obstacles they face – such as an obsession with cost control and the fact that departments within the airline just don’t seem to talk to each other – but they seem to be persevering and some fruits are being borne from this.

    I’m not sure how other airlines would ‘trial’ such a thing but I guess it’s more a case that passengers just wouldn’t know about it. At the end of the day, BA has made no announcement of such a trial (publicly) and it’s unlikely they will. If people like myself didn’t post on here and people like yourself didn’t access such websites it would appear to Joe Public that the pre ordered meal was just ‘something new’.

    I agree with you that BA has a lot of work to do. However there is always other factors that people like us (ie you who purchases the product and myself that has to try and work with it – both of whom will at times be frustrated by it) don’t think about all that much. I positioned back from JFK some weeks ago and ended up being seated in F next to one of the Area Sales Managers for the USA. Over some claret we engaged in some banter and I expressed that it was disappointing that BA had not gone for newer direct access seating for J on the A380/787, akin to what our alliance partner AA now offered on their new aircraft. His immediate reply was ‘revenue per square foot’ on the aircraft. To be honest it’s not a phrase I had really heard. He also expressed that AA was in a fortunate position as the Europe-US revenue is pre determined between AA-BA so even though AA has reduced revenue per square ft, they still enjoy the same percentage of revenue. It was an interesting conversation.

    At the end of the day, money talks. There are many detractors to BA’s J class seating. Little direct aisle access, claustrophobic…..personally I like it as it feels very private (provided you are not sat next to a stranger in the E/F seats). But when travelling with my partner the E/F seats are my favourite. But again, I agree many are disappointed with it and many newer, more comfortable products are now out there. Direct aisle access is still an issue on many airlines though. Any window seat passenger on many airlines J class cabins will still experience this.

    My personal view is that BA’s focus in terms of hard product should be directed towards World Traveller, especially on the 747’s and non re-furbished 777’s. It is the second biggest revenue earning cabin after J and generates more profit that F or W. Yet, to be frank, I find the offering dire. Yes, some people are paying bargain basement fares that BA are barely profiting £1 of. But many passengers are still paying big bucks to sit in Y (especially on certain routes) and everyone deserves to receive what BA promises in it’s marketing. Having (not by choice) ending up on a Delta flight from CDG – JFK in Y (and dreading it) I have to admit I was shocked. The hard product and offerings in Y were far better than BA. BA have always been fortunate that the market which is most profitable for them and where they are strongest is one where the competition offered the weakest products (UK-US). However, the US airlines are well and truly picking up their game and this has to be a worry for BA.

    I think they are responding – new aircraft arriving at the rate of one every two weeks. The refurbishment of a large number of the 777 fleet. And now work has begun (planning stages) for the refurbishment of World Traveller on some of the 747’s. Action is also being taken for those unfortunate enough to end up with ‘old F’ on the handful of 747’s that don’t have the new product. From 4NOV forms have been handed out to all F passengers travelling on these aircraft apologising that they do not have the new F and asking them to complete their details and return the form to Customer Relations who will enact a ‘gesture’ for the passenger (I have no idea what the ‘gesture’ will be – Avios or a voucher towards future flights I would guess).

    No airline is perfect. BA most certainly is far from it. I’m sure BA would love to operate under the conditions that Etihad does. Immigrant staff with no pension contributions, send them back to their home countries should they become pregnant. No pension deficits. No maternity pay. Pro-aviation government and access to a hub airport that operates around the clock. BA can only but dream of such things.

    Back to the pre-ordered meal trial….I would imagine ‘success’ would be judged by passenger satisfaction levels and the ability for the crew to deliver it effectively onboard. While other airlines are obviously able to do this easily, they probably are not working in a J cabin with 70 seats and only six crew serving them. I’m not sure whether this would generate much cost saving as the same amount of meals would still need to be loaded as now as not all passengers would have pre-ordered and the cabin crew meals are included in the ‘buffer’ amount.

    **These are my personal opinions only, not those of my employer**


    “The wifi fitted trial jumbo is also ready to launch later this month – BA do not plan on ‘marketing’ wifi onboard until at least half of the fleet are fitted.”

    VS have taken the same route – not marketing wifi but it is available on some flights.. I know each airline must undergo testing, but why cant Boeing / Airbus issue generic approvals for certain items when most modern airline fleets have the equipment already fitted?

    BA Managers consider the “revenue per square foot” in terms of profitability, how ever the passenger considers “Value per square foot” . Unless BA can provide enhanced value in terms of the hard product, they may find their revenue forecasts, worryingly, wrong!


    MartynSinclair, again, totally agreed.

    And BA will eventually have to address this.

    But while their premium cabins are consistently full and yields high….it won’t happen.

    When BA see’s that they are losing more by passengers leaving BA and choosing competitors than they are gaining by the current seating configuration I think we will see a rapid change.


    To be fair to BA I do sense the penny has dropped. New aircraft are at last appearing and some of the knackered ones are going to the junkyard.

    Now Iberia is coming under control financially maybe there will be more to reinvest in capex.

    I don’t think they will be able to compete with EK,EY, QR etc because the model doesn’t work. As RF rightly says those carriers are ideally placed geographically with 24 hour a day hubs and plenty of capacity.

    The other thing is Emirates don’t faff about with trials etc, they just get on with it. BA like to trial everything, boarding card checks, bag tags, meal ordering etc. Sometimes you need to take a risk.

    To be honest I don’t think Virgin will be around in 10 years time, consolidation is the name of the game and I think they will be one of the losers, consumed by Delta or something like that.


    We all agree that the Gulf carriers have advantages over legacy carriers. BA’s investment in ground breaking products stopped after Club World was introduced. Cathay seem to keep abreast of developments and their First and Business Class products keep up with competition.

    I doubt pre ordering of meals will work at BA. Too many Px being upgraded and too many last minute changes.


    This a good idea and the only why it wont work is because of BA itself. They should look to extend this to economy. KLM do a wonderful service in economy out of their hub in Amsterdam where you can order some nice meals (Japanese, Indonesian, and European) that is deleivered at the begining of an economy class service. Works well for them and makes an economy flight that much nicer.



    I imagine that the criteria for Operational Upgrades would change as a result of the pre-order trial (and roll out, if it happens). Any passengers who have pre-ordered meals in Club will not be eligible for OPUP even if they are Gold. Therefore you may see non-status members receiving OPUPs where they are booked on the codeshare flight number for the flight/aren’t eligible to pre-book meals. This is a similar policy to OPUPs at the moment – if you have a special meal ordered, regardless of your status, they’ll OPUP passengers with no special meal regardless of their status compared to yours.

    Therefore, I imagine it will work, although if there are Gold card holders who have become accustomed to OPUPs on busy flights, then they start to have to change their expectations, or surrender their option to pre-order the meal of their choice. (For them anyway, it’s not that necessary to pre order as they get first preference of choices). That said, depending on how many passengers pre-order, there still may be a risk of this choice not being available if there are lots of Gold members not pre-ordering (last minute bookings etc) or majority of the cabin has pre-ordered.


    To be honest, pre-ordering meals does absolutely zilch for me. I rarely know what I will fancy eating five minutes before making a choice, let along a day or days in advance (yes, I am a pain in the neck in a restaurant, always wanting to be the last to order!!). Where does that leave the serendipity of impulse choice? OK, I may miss out on a particular selection but, hey, if I haven’t chosen anyway, does it matter? This ‘benefit’ has always struck me as another way of making life excessively boring and predictable……


    I can see why pre ordering a main meal in Y would be good (note also that Aer Lingus does thus very very in euro Y) since you can get a better quality meal.

    Seems to be of no relevance / benefit in J and especially F.


    TominScotland – 17/11/2013 09:00 GMT



    I have used KLM pre order meal in Y, have to say it was better than a meal I had in Club World. The BA 747 on economy and prem economy of very tattty. The A380 (especially the upper deck) and 787 is a huge improvement for economy and prem econ passengers.


    SwissExPat many would disagree with you that there is no benefit to pre-ordering meals in F&J. Those that would like their meal option of choice, for one.

    Put it this way….on a 747 with 52J seats there is typically four CW options. Three hot options (two meat/fish, one veg) and one main course salad. Obviously we do not get 52 of each option, it’s more like 65% option 1, 30% option 2, 10% option 3 (usually a veg pasta or like) and 5 main course salads. So, out of 52 passengers if you get 6 people wanting the main course salad, one is going to be disappointed (often more). Likewise for the other options. You would be amazed at the grief and annoyance it causes for some. Many say things like ‘i’ve paid £4k for a ticket and I can’t get my choice of meal’…and perhaps it is a valid comment. Others are less bothered, but some really take the issue to heart.

    With pre-ordering, you will not be in a position where you cannot have your first choice.

    Admittedly, the ratios are better in F and the unavailability of a customers first choice of meal is rare – although it does happen.

    @ andystock: I agree that the customer experience on the A380 in W/Y is superior to other aircraft, as well as W on the 787. I have to disagree with Y on the 787 though. The complaints about the dense, narrow seating is coming through in a deluge. Lack of toilets and leg room taken up by massive IFE boxes is another issue. Passengers are not happy with the seating on the 787 at all. When the aircraft is full, Y on a clapped out old 747 held together with duct tape seems luxurious. Again, any change to the seating arrangement on the 787 will be down to the cost of less dense seating vs the cost of lost business. On one recent 787 flight BA had employed market researchers to interview Y class passengers (and pay them £20 cash each for their views). The questioning was along the lines of ‘do you feel the cabin is comfortable’. ‘Do you feel the seats are tighter than other airlines’; If the reply was ‘yes they are too tight’ the questioning would continue along the lines of ‘would the seating issue stop you flying BA again’. Obviously they are weighing up not only whether passengers have noticed the difference but MORE so whether it would stop the price sensitive passenger from choosing BA again.

    ***These are my personal opinions only***

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 23 total)
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Be up-to-date
Magazine Subscription
To see our latest subscription offers for Business Traveller editions worldwide, click on the Subscribe & Save link below