Following a leak of information earlier this week, yesterday British Airways has confirmed that it will remove onboard catering in economy class (Euro Traveller) on flights shorter than 2.5 hr. from next week (3rd of August, 2009). Previously they used to serve a sandwich with a small chocolate bar on most of their flights – together with the famous waste-bag included in the meal package.
BA has also communicated that it will continue to serve breakfast on flights departing before 10 a.m. and offer free drinks and snacks. It will not sell food onboard and claimed it is “not unusual to make small changes [to inflight catering] to avoid waste and save money where it makes sense and it meets customers’ changing tastes.” British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Assn. said the airline is also considering cutting additional amenities such as chocolates in first class, hot towels in business class and pretzels in economy, the BBC reported. It expects to save £22 million ($36.1 million) annually as a result.
Even though the news have been communicated through the media, there’s nothing about it on the British Airways website. It seems like this must have been a quite rapid decision to be made, as the website still describes the Euro Traveller class today (July 31st) as “then once on board let our team of experts serve you complimentary food and drinks from our free bar service“. In the Inflight Meal section of the website, there is a mention of complimentary snacks in the Euro Traveller cabin, but no details. While you make a booking, the booking process does not provide any information about the catering for the flights at all, except linking the same travel cabin description as quoted above.
It will be interesting to see if this traditionally low-cost approach to short haul onboard services will spread to more “full service” carriers in these turbulent economic times or not. Iberia and Brussels Airlines for example only sell food on short-haul flights, while Lufthansa for example only offers a small sandwich with a chocolate bar. We are wondering if such amenities will ever return – even in better economic times…