End of an era: British Airways calls time on free food and drink
British Airways passengers flying in economy class are no longer being offered free food and drink on any short-haul services.
The across-the-board introduction of charges for snacks and libations, introduced this Wednesday, has long been on the cards.
Complimentary meals were ditched on some services back in 2009, before the airline signalled last spring that it would roll the policy out on all short-haul flights.
The change was confirmed in September, with the airline also announcing a partnership with Marks and Spencer to supply sandwiches and snacks.
The “M&S on board” menu ranges from bags of crisps and chocolate bars for £1 each to a mozzarella and tomato focaccia for £4.95/€5.50.
Tea and coffee, from today, will set travellers back £2.30/€2.65, a 330ml can of beer costs £4/€4.59, while a gin and tonic is priced at £6/€6.89.
Credit or debit cards will be accepted, but not cash, BA says.
It will also accept Avios frequent flier points (whicah can also be earned and spent with Aer Lingus) as a form of currency.
Avios points are valued at 0.8 pence.
Business (Club) and first-class passengers will still to be given free food and drink.
BA’s decision has been described as the end of an era, and Nick Trend, Telegraph Travel’s consumer editor, suggested there is no longer any difference between the airline and the likes of easyJet or Ryanair.
“Charging short-haul economy class passengers for drinks and sandwiches removes the final distinction between BA and its low cost rivals,” he said.
“From the consumer's point of view the choice of carrier now comes down to which airline offers the best fare for your destination.”
BA’s reinvention began in 2009 when it scrapped free meals on some short-haul flights and replaced bottles of water on long-haul services with “cuplets”.
The range of alcohol drinks on offer was also reduced.
In 2013 the airline introduced “no-frills” fares, which saw passengers charged more if they wanted to fly with checked luggage or choose their seat. “We welcome BA's conversion to the Ryanair way,” quipped the Irish airline at the time.
And last year it also launched its first flights from Stansted, traditionally the domain of low-cost carriers.
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