Just a few weeks ago, when travelling long haul on BA in business class, I was praising the airline for what I consider to be a marked improvement in the quality of the food and wine served onboard.
As I said in my article, I have become a regular BA customer over the last few years, using them on my regular UK jaunts whenever the cost is not too prohibitive. I should add here that anyone actually paying to travel in the Club Europe cabin these days needs their head examined. The leg-room is now the same as economy and the only advantage, apart from a very average hot meal, is that the middle seat is blocked off.
I always buy economy and select the emergency exit seats giving me far more in the way of comfort than those sitting upfront. And as I have a frequent flyer card that gives lots of perks, I get free seat selection and use of lounges at airports, making it worthwhile to pay a little more to fly BA. To give credit where it is due, the new BA lounge at Gatwick South is an excellent facility.
But I have had a couple of very bad experiences onboard over the last few weeks. On one trip out of Gatwick heading for Faro, passengers were made to walk outside to the plane, Ryanair-style. But the biggest shock was the appalling state of the inflight catering service when flying from Faro to Gatwick last Saturday.
I was seated in row 13, the fifth row of the economy section on this particular flight, and considering that it was a late morning departure, we decided to have lunch on the plane. Food and drinks are no longer free in economy on BA’s short haul flights and instead they have introduced a menu of snacks and light meals by Marks & Spencer.
As we browsed the menu, some of it seemed quite appealing, such as a chicken and couscous salad and a selection of sandwiches made from real bread that looked a great deal more appealing than the trash served on most other European airlines, albeit at similar rip-off prices. It is worth noting that cash is not accepted and payment can only be made by card or using Avios points. However, on this particular flight, most passengers need not have worried about how to pay, as the food had all but run out by the time they reached our row. My wife and I got the last two sandwiches.
The passenger across the aisle from me, who was not so lucky, quizzed the crew: “Surely you knew that you had a full flight today,” he asked. “Why did you not load more food?”
The crew were noticeably ashamed by the situation, explaining how they had loaded the food onto the outbound flight from Gatwick and as they no longer used the catering at their destination airports, they depended on the leftovers for the return flights. The remaining passengers had a choice of little more than crisps and biscuits for lunch.
“Has BA totally lost the plot?” asked the passenger across the aisle. I think so!
By PATRICK STUART [email protected]