Choose Your British Airways Meals In Advance (Including In Economy)

While this isn’t new as such, I got an email from British Airways yesterday which prompted me to look into their meal pre-ordering program for the first time.

The email read as follows:

As you will soon be travelling with us, we wanted to let you know that you can now pre-order your in-flight meal between 30 days and 24 hours before your flight departure to guarantee your choice once on board.

This service is available at no extra cost for many of our flights from London Heathrow, when you’re travelling in First, Club World and World Traveller Plus. You can choose from a number of mouth-watering dishes, all made with fresh, seasonal ingredients and developed by our renowned chefs.

British-Airways-Paid-Meal-2

I visited the linked website, which seemed to offer two kinds of meal ordering services:

  • Pre-selecting meals for First Class, Club World, and World Traveller Plus passengers (longhaul first class, business class, and premium economy)
  • Pre-selecting a paid meal if traveling in World Traveller (longhaul economy)

British-Airways-Paid-Meal-1

I do find this claim sort of hilarious:

“After conducting extensive research we have improved the food and wine on offer, so it tastes even better in the air than it does on the ground.”

To rephrase that slightly, the food is so salty that it would be inedible on the ground. 😉

So, how do the British Airways pre-order meal options work?

Pre-ordering first/business/premium economy food

British Airways lets you pre-order your meals between 24 hours and 30 days before departure. Several non-US airlines let you pre-order meals, and what makes it so great is that you can typically pre-order from a much larger menu than you’d have access to aboard, often with dozens of choices.

For example, Singapore Airlines lets you pre-order lobster thermidor in first & business class on most flights through their “Book the Cook” program. And it’s pretty spectacular.

Singapore-Airlines-Lobster-Thermidor-1

Unfortunately British Airways’ meal pre-ordering system works very similar to American’s — you can select any of the menu choices which would otherwise be available on your flight. In other words, it’s a way to guarantee your meal choice, and nothing more.

I don’t think I’ve ever not gotten my first meal choice on British Airways, so the feature has limited appeal to me. Still, I suppose in theory it’s a nice option to have.

British-Airways-First-Class-JFK-29
British Airways first class dinner

This offering is available on the following routes:

Abu Dhabi, Accra, Atlanta, Austin, Bahrain, Baltimore, Bangkok, Beijing, Bengaluru, Boston, Buenos Aries, Calgary, Cape Town, Chengdu, Chennai, Chicago, Dallas Ft Worth, Denver, Dubai, Dulles International (DC), Entebbe, Haneda, Hong Kong, Houston, Hyderabad, Jeddah, Johannesburg, Kuala Lumpur, Kuwait, Lagos, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Miami, Montreal, Mumbai, Nairobi, Narita, New Delhi, New York – John F. Kennedy, New York – Newark, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Rio de Janeiro, Riyadh, San Diego, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Seattle, Shanghai (Pu Dong), Singapore, Toronto, Vancouver.

Pre-ordering economy food

While I was aware of the ability to pre-order meals in premium cabins, what I didn’t realize is that British Airways now also lets you select economy meals in advance… but only if you purchase a “premium” meal.

Here’s the selection of premium meals available for purchase in economy:

British-Airways-Economy-Meals

The meals look decent enough, though at up to ~$28 each, are quite steep in price, if you ask me. Especially since presumably they’re being served in lieu of the regular meal.

As long as this doesn’t lead to a reduction in the quality of economy meals, I’m all for it (though I feel like that will inevitably happen over time).

The economy meals for purchase are available on the following routes:

Abu Dhabi, Accra, Amman*, Atlanta, Austin, Bahrain, Baku*, Baltimore, Bangkok, Beijing, Beirut*, Bengaluru, Boston, Buenos Aries, Cairo*, Calgary, Cape Town, Chengdu, Chennai, Chicago, Dallas Ft Worth, Denver, Dubai, Entebbe, Haneda, Hong Kong, Houston, Hyderabad, Jeddah, Johannesburg, Kuala Lumpur, Kuwait, Lagos, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Miami, Montreal, Mumbai, Nairobi, Narita, New Delhi, New York – John F. Kennedy, New York – Newark, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Rio De Janeiro, Riyadh, San Diego, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Seattle, Seoul (Incheon), Shanghai (Pu Dong), Singapore, Tel Aviv*, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington DC.

Bottom line

I love meal order programs like Singapore Airlines’, whereby you can select from a huge menu which wouldn’t be available to you aboard.

Personally I don’t find much value in pre-ordering something which would be on the menu aboard. Is there a chance my first choice won’t be available to me? Of course. Even so, I rarely know what I want days in advance, and in my opinion the quality difference between options isn’t huge.

So I don’t know whether I want an overcooked steak or chewy chicken or microwave pasta days in advance, so I’d rather wait to choose. And if my first choice isn’t available, that’s not a big loss either.

How about you? Do you usually pre-select your airline meals when given the option? And what do you think of British Airways’ economy meals — would you pay what they’re asking?

Comments

  1. I’m flying LHR-EWR next month in BA Economy, and ordered the Taste of the Far East selection. I’m actually pretty excited to try it out. In the past, I’ve been disappointed with BA’s bland and flavorless food. Fingers crossed this is an improvement.

  2. I have used American Airlines meal pre-order, and it works quite well. Even though the AA and BA programmes offer pretty much what you get on-board, an advantage is that you can choose a seat further back in the cabin and be guaranteed your first choice.
    So sitting at the last row of the Club Coffins, sorry Club Class seats where you don’t have to step over the aisle passenger, you can reserve your meal choice instead of ‘whatever is left’ by the time they get to you.

  3. How is the food in general on BA in premium class? I’m assuming better than the American carriers but below that of the top tier airlines.

    Also, off topic, is there a way to set up alerts for BA premium space? I’d like to upgrade my recent BA J class sale ticket to FIRST using avios and not sure a better way to search than just to keep looking. Thanks

  4. Once, around 3 or 4 years ago, I travelled on AF Y and had the option of buying a meal. I did it on the inbound just to try it and already having eaten from the regular Y meal on the outbound, found that it was a good value. I was served my meals on a proper tray, with proper metal cutlery, crystal glasses, and the FA managed to get me a cup of wine from the business class cabin. I don’t know if BA will offer the same, but I’d be willing to try.

  5. Strangely, I got the same email yesterday. Strange, because I have never been and am not scheduled to be, on a BA flight. I have booked flights with Avios, but never on BA

  6. Isn’t BA the airline that doesn’t even allow you to pre-choose seats for free in business? So I can pick my meal,but not my seat?

  7. For economy, I´d say this is good news! Possibly expensive for some markets, but for some countries that have higher incomes, it is only slightly expensive.

    OS has had this option (albeit at a lower price) for a while and the meals are quite upscale, easily beating meals served in business on European flights.

  8. I too received this email. I was not able to choose online and when I called in, the agent was totally clueless. She offered me vegetarian,kosher…..the special meals?

  9. My adult son and I just returned from Europe on BA economy/Avios tickets. I was feeling a bit under the weather and decided to treat us to the Gourmet Dining Option. Unfortunately, no meal arrived although everyone else got their regular meals. I alerted the flight attendant who didn’t know what I was talking about. Then, a manager showed up with the meals saying she had found them in “the back” (not sure what that meant and quite frankly, didn’t want to ask). She claimed that our “gourmet dining option” wasn’t on her list of “special meals”. The meal was “just OK”. The beef was overcooked and stringy and the potatoes stuck to the plate because they had been overheated. The shrimp was OK but not gourmet by any means. The dessert was pretty yummy. The flight attendant who picked up our dishes told me that she had never seen the program before. Looks like BA needs to inform flight crews of the new option so meals aren’t left “in the back” to be discovered later. My son decided that the chicken curry they were offering as a free option smelled good and would have been a better choice. I’ve already shared my comments with BA as they can use the feedback. This is an expensive meal option and not worth it in my experience.

  10. If everyone else is pre-ordering and you aren’t, then yes, there is a chance you might not get your first choice.

  11. I just booked my first British Airways flight, and in Club World. I am happy I found this article. I agree that the appeal, just like American, is limited to what options you would otherwise have. Having said that, the appeal for people with a limited diet is that I can see what my options are before deciding to order, say, a vegetarian meal.
    If I know there is a fish or an appetizing vegetarian dish, that always wins over a special meal.
    Thanks for this post!

  12. Going to fly BA long haul economy for the first time.
    I wonder what are the “free” meal options for Economy like?
    Just your typical “pasta or chicken” or even less?

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