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BA ponders charging for food on long-haul flights

April 12, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

There’s plenty of time for decisions on the long-haul flight of the future: to eat and pay for it; not to eat at all; or to go frugal and nibble a few homemade sandwiches.

That scenario might be the way things work out if British Airways puts a controversial proposal into practice. BA is reportedly so satisfied with its venture into charging for food on short-haul flights that it’s considering extending the concept to long-haul.

The carrier introduced paying for meals in short-haul in January, and BA chairman Alex Cruz says passengers now welcome the opportunity of being able to buy their meal instead of getting it free.

“It’s going great,” Cruz told Britain’s Sunday Times. “Customers say to us: ‘Finally, I have good choices. No more chicken or beef’.”

Gourmet sandwich option

Asked if the carrier might extend the concept to long-haul economy, Cruz said: “We might do it”.

On short-haul trips, BA switched from providing free food to giving passengers the option of buying Marks & Spencer sandwiches. The sandwiches are the upmarket deli-style variety, not the peanut-butter-and-two slices sort.

Cruz said BA is also considering putting more seats on its long-haul B777 fleet flying from Heathrow, by making rows 10 abreast instead of nine abreast. It has already decided to do that on its B777s flying from Gatwick to the Caribbean, fitting an extra 52 seats.

Accommodating almost 20% more people means one toilet for every 30 passengers, compared with one for every 25 passengers now – unless BA decides to add more toilets, but there’s no report of that.

Many of BA’s competitors are already using 10-abreast seating on B777s. Emirates, Etihad and Air New Zealand are among carriers with 10-abreast configuration in B777 economy-class.

Economy seat rows are configured 3x4x3 (with x representing the aisle) rather than the roomier 3x3x3 used by Virgin Australia, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. Qantas doesn’t fly B777s.

Written by Peter Needham

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