Business Class catering on short haul flights within europe.

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  • rferguson
    Participant

    Yesterday I had the worst meal I have ever (not) eaten in Euro Business Class.

    KLM ‘enhanced’ its offering post pandemic on euro routes and now offers a cardboard box which on my flight
    was full of awful, unhealthy garb.

    Business Class has always been a hard sell for intra europe travel. The seating is essentially the same as economy, many already have lounge access and Fast Track included with frequent flyer status and onboard ‘cuisine’ is dire.

    One thing I have noticed is that several airlines (like KLM and LH) do not scale their offering in relation to sector length. KLM offers the same box whether you are flying LHR-AMS (1hr) or MAD-AMS (2.5hr). Likewise, LH offers the same dire cold plate whether you are flying MAD-FRA (2.5hr) or FRA-MUC (1hr).

    Anyway these are my experiences of late:

    1) Air France. BCN – CDG. 1hr50min. 06:05 departure. No choice. Half a toasted sandwich, chopped orange, yoghurt and pastries.

    2) Lufthansa. MAD – FRA. 2hr40min. 14:00 departure. No choice. Some cold slices of sausage, a bread roll and some kind of dessert. This is an ‘enhancement’ according to LH on the previous offering on the same route which was a starter, choice of hot meal and dessert.

    3) Iberia Express. MAN – MAD. 2hr50min. 14:05 departure. Choice of two hot meals (beef or fish) accompanied with side salad and dessert.

    4) BA. LHR – MAN. 1hr. 12:55 departure. Ploughmans salad with bread roll and dessert.

    5) KLM. MAD-AMS. 2hr40min. 11:00 departure. ‘Breakfast’ at 11:00. Noc hoice. Consisting of unheated pancakes (gross), chopped apple, yoghurt and wooden disposable cutlery. KLM described it’s catering on this route in the app like this: ‘enjoy our delicious 3-course meal, including a tasty starter, a hot meal and a dessert’. Errrmmm…porkies.

    The winner – Iberia Express! Surprisingly.

    3 users thanked author for this post.

    rferguson
    Participant

    Just to add an image of BA MAN – LHR (I could only add four to the above post).


    Mark
    Participant

    Pure business greed by the airlines.


    TominScotland
    Participant

    rferguson, to complement your interesting Business Class comparisons, here are my Economy Class equivalents from the past month:

    BA GLA-LHR-ARN (afternoon/ evening) Water and crisps x 2
    LH TLL- FRA – GLA (afternoon) Water and, later on, a piece of chocolate, paid for service followed
    KL GLA-AMS-SVG-AMS-GLA Full drinks service (always offered more than 1 drink) and a sandwich (very basic, not very fresh)
    EZY GLA-LTN-GLA Paid for service
    FR GLA-DUB-GLA Paid for service for some of the aircraft (35 min flights)

    KLM win on the drinks front by a long mile, their ‘sandwich’ is a waste of space. BUT KLM are, in my experience, always the most expensive option for European short-haul, probably double what BA or LH charge for equivalent distance when booked a month or two in advance (I know airline pricing is a minefield).

    In terms of comfort, KLM also win because I am eligible for Economy Comfort (extra legroom) except last night on one of their previously loved 737-700s…..


    rferguson
    Participant

    @ Tominscotland – Despite the appalling catering I really enjoyed my flight with KLM. They probably have the most professional staff I have encountered on board a western airline. The aircraft arrived on time in MAD from AMS and we boarded and the door was closed five minutes ahead of departure. The Captain then exited the flight deck, took the PA handset from the front galley, stood in the middle of the aisle and addressed all passengers with the information that we had been given a slot delay due to fog at AMS. After his announcement, he proceeded to walk the length of the aircraft taking questions from passengers. The purser then did the same. I found the professionalism and empathy they conveyed to be incredible and unlike anything i’ve ever seen on an airline (the crew usually hide when this bad news is announced).

    A lot of us had tight connections (I made my connection with 19min transit time in AMS!).

    I think the real purpose of intra europe ‘business class’ is purely to market long haul flights from A to B via C as ‘business class’ the entire way. I overheard the Purser on the KL flight yesterday as she chatted with each and every customer and NONE were ending their journey in AMS.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    AMcWhirter
    Participant

    I think the real purpose of intra europe ‘business class’ is purely to market long haul flights from A to B via C as ‘business class’ the entire way.

    Really interesting thread rferguson.

    KLM has to be punctual. As a sixth-freedom airline it cannot survive without transfer traffic. Same scenario with LX, AY and OS to name but three.

    You are absolutely correct with the reason for business class within Europe.

    Best example here is BA who had to introduce domestic class to match those long-haul foreign carriers operating out of the regions who could provide a premium product throughout. Same of course applies with the likes of KLM, LH, LX etc from the UK regions.

    3 users thanked author for this post.

    TominScotland
    Participant

    Yes, I agree that KLM cabin crew do interact as a personal level. I am FB Platinum for Life so have used them a lot in the past. Last night, the AMS – GLA flight was busy but not full. I moved to a seat in front of me to give my neighbours (and myself) more room. The Cabin Manager (or whatever his title is) came and, rather brusquely, asked me to move back because he had promised the seat to a pregnant women who was seated further back. Fair enough, I moved. A short while later, he came back to me, obviously after having looked at the passenger list and offered me a move to 1C and Business Class service. At this point, I was comfortable, my bags were overhead and there was no point in moving so I smiled and declined his offer. 10 minutes later, one of his colleagues came with a (surplus) Business Class meal box but I had eaten in the Lounge and declined this as well. What about another drink…

    They did make a huge effort. I am not sure crew on BA or LH would do the same…

    2 users thanked author for this post.

    DavidSmith2
    Participant

    Just to add a positive note on this one. We flew Toulouse to London with BA back in September, Club Europe. It was fairly uneventful but the cabin steward (a Mr Lynch) was effusive and minutely detailed in his description of the menu. My memory is that the smoked trout (cold) was actually very tasty although I have no memory of the main course. Sometimes there is a happy ending, although in our case, one of the security doors in the hold got jammed so we waited 2 hours for a bags at T5. Ho hum!


    ASK1945
    Participant

    Just to add an image of BA MAN – LHR (I could only add four to the above post).
    Attachments:

    IMG_3470.jpg

    Very vegetarian friendly, I don’t think.


    rferguson
    Participant

    Very vegetarian friendly, I don’t think.

    THANKS|

    Ask1945 – they did have a vegetarian option. Actually, BA and IB were the only airline out of the five which offered any choice. On KL the food was all vegetarian. But on LH and AF it was a case of tough.

    2 users thanked author for this post.

    alistairNicoll
    Participant

    Personally the only reason I would use short haul business class in most of Europe is as a connection to long haul it is a complete joke and anyone would think there is a conspiracy amongst the airlines not to break ranks and emulate the excellent cabins and service found in other parts of the world


    x2000traveller
    Participant

    J class intra-Europe seems mostly to be about connections, more space and first off the aircraft (if that’s what you are interested in). Catering doesn’t seem to be rated that highly by many passengers these days (indeed, quite a few pass on the meal offer in my experience), so airlines put less effort into it. As you have found out. However, even I was somewhat appalled to be served tea in a paper cup rather than a china one in Club Europea on what was formerly ‘The World’s Favourite Airline’ last month!


    esselle
    Participant

    J class intra-Europe seems mostly to be about connections, more space and first off the aircraft (if that’s what you are interested in). Catering doesn’t seem to be rated that highly by many passengers these days (indeed, quite a few pass on the meal offer in my experience), so airlines put less effort into it. As you have found out. However, even I was somewhat appalled to be served tea in a paper cup rather than a china one in Club Europea on what was formerly ‘The World’s Favourite Airline’ last month!

    J class is a designator for long haul. Intra Europe would be C class.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    sparkyflier
    Participant

    rfurguson well done for starting such a thread. I was thinking to start something similar but more based on BA’s inconsistent offerings.

    Recently have flown following

    LHR-Porto – lunch offering but has had 2 breakfasts in BA and CX lounges the ploughmans lunch was enough – but recall Shephard’s pie was also an option. No menu card..

    Lisbon – LHR – Menu card with options including lamb and coconut curry, something else and a mushroom linguini. I had the latter and was delicious! Interestingly plane was an A321 ceo with no plugs for charging etc. The crew did not know that this plane did not have those. I believe that the 321ceos have largely been in storage since Covid, but the 321neos have been around.

    LHR-Athens – early morning flight and late. No menu card and offerings were English or continental breakfasts. Had the latter which had smaller portions than my neighbour. The plugs on this plane did not work.

    Athens-LHR on a 789. Menu card and had the same options as the flight from Lisbon and had the same linguini. Seems they had not loaded many as had recommended it to other passengers and they had gone. It was nice to have the long haul product on a 3-4 hour flight but I must say the crew on this flight were terrific and a real credit to BA. Faultless.

    You will see I mention if there was a menu card or not. To be this really adds to the service and sets the scene and shows a plan of service to the flight. This should be the norm.

    What was still missing though was the hot towel service. I thought this was coming back but seems not. Really hope this comes back as it makes a difference after the stresses of an airport and journey there.

    Also BA – please bring back highlife and newspapers!


    SwissExPat
    Participant

    One advantage of the European short haul system (as compared to the American one) is that if you are connecting between short and long haul in J/F is that you are likely to get a seat (and catering etc) in the J cabin on the short haul sector because the cabin configuration is not fixed and can be expanded.

    On a few occasions when I bought a J ticket requiring an onward domestic sector in the USA, I have ended up in Y on the domestic sector because the “First” cabin is full. Some of these planes (mainly AA) only have 8 seats in “First” and these can sell out quickly. This has happened to me at least 3-4 times and now I check the seat availability on the domestic sector before booking. I wasn’t even “waitlisted” for the J cabin!

    Adding insult to injury, I only received Avios and Tier points for a Y ticket and not the J/F although I paid a J/F fare!

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