Buy Onboard Is Back – British Airways Ups Catering Game Again

Earlier this year, British Airways revealed that it was ditching buy on board for a new buy before you fly catering proposition called Speedbird Cafe. Now, while keeping the pre-order functionality, British Airways is bringing back the possibility of buying catering onboard short-haul flights in economy, using technology to assist.

British Airways, Buy onboard, Catering
British Airways is bringing back buy onboard catering. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The current situation has shaken up the onboard catering offers at airlines worldwide, especially in Europe. For example, across the Lufthansa Group, the short-haul catering offer has changed, with Lufthansa scrapping its free snacks in exchange for a buy-onboard menu. While many saw this as a negative, some argued that BA’s new changes were positive.

Buy onboard from your phone

British Airways is expanding its catering offer beyond only offering pre-purchase capabilities. On selected routes from Monday, passengers will once again be able to order food on the aircraft. Rather than crew passing through the plane with toasted cheese and ham sandwiches running out by the time they reach the back of the aircraft, the airline is using a digital system.

Passengers will need to connect their devices to the in-flight WiFi available on flights. Through their web browser, they will see which items are in stock on the flight and add them to their basket before paying for the items. Major credit and debit cards are accepted, alongside Avios, the airline’s frequent flyer points.

British Airways, Buy onboard, Catering
Passengers will use their mobile devices to order what they want from available stock. Photo: British Airways

Delivered to your seat

Once the order has been accepted, the cabin crew will prepare it and bring it to the passenger’s seat. According to the airline, the offer will be available during the whole flight, but only while the airline’s WiFi system is active.

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The crew will manage this to stop orders for hot food while the aircraft is coming in to land. Additionally, British Airways won’t offer the service on flights from London to Manchester, Jersey, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Dublin, Newcastle, and Newquay due to the short flight time.

British Airways, Buy onboard, Catering
The food is paid for on the device and then delivered to the passenger’s seat. Photo: British Airways

Speaking about the new offer, Tom Stevens, who is the airline’s Director of Brand and Customer Experience, commented,

“We know that customers like being able to purchase their food in advance of travel and guarantee their first choice, however we also understand the importance of an extra cup of tea or a gin and tonic, in the moment. We think that this new digital ordering proposition, coupled with our prepurchase option is a winning combination, catering for everyone’s needs.”

British Airways will continue to offer its pre-order service on all flights, with the previously announced Tom Kerridge special items only being available in advance. In addition, each passenger will get a free bottle of water and a small snack, regardless of if they purchase anything for the flight.

Would you order food on a short-haul British Airways flight? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!