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.
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)
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.
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 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.
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.
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?