BA food deal with M&S confirmed

The previous rumours have been confirmed, with endorsement and rationale provided by the BA CEO.

Alas, it isn’t going to be an offer of Chicken Kievs and warm food returning to the skies in shorter haul economy.  (I say shorter, as the deal applies to anything under 5 hours.)  BA will now sell a limited range of M&S sandwiches and snacks.  Replacing the small free sandwich and snacks that are currently offered.

The decision  is being presented as giving customers choice and improved premium options to eat in the air.

The reality is that BA’s current short-haul food and drink offering is poor: usually a supremely unimpressive and unsatisfyingly small cheese sandwich, atrociously presented in a sealed plastic wrapper.  Or an alternative of the smallest bag of crisps physically possible to produce while being able to retain the plural in the word “crisps”.  The value is very limited.

There are many bemoaning this as extreme cost cutting and an erosion of a key differentiator for flying BA vs low-cost.  I think that is to misunderstand the issue.  I don’t imagine there is significant cost saving, or that BA expects this to be a major new revenue stream.

In my view, BA has taken the position that consumers derive little value from their current food offering.  They can’t afford to significantly improve the in-house quality given the highly competitive short-haul flights market, and the reluctance of all passengers to blanket pay for this.  However for a similar logistical burden and cost, they can provide a range of third party products that would constitute a significant improvement for those willing to pay, without those not willing to pay bearing the cost.

Seems a logical choice on the food front.

Of course many people will likely notice the beverage side of things!  No more complimentary wine on your 8:00am flight!  I’m sure they will keep water complimentary though!