British Airways has made sweeping changes to it’s business class offerings this year, introducing industry standard bedding and other soft touches. It’s great, but what about everyone else? More customers fly economy than any other cabin, yet all news seemed focused on the pointy end. No longer. British Airways has announced exciting changes to their economy meal service.

The Changes

Starting January 17th, British Airways long haul meal service will make a dramatic u-turn. Service will start with a pretzel and welcome drink. Shortly thereafter, guests will be served a four course meal, including cheese, bread roll and a personal bottle of water. If there’s any room left in the tank, Magnums ice cream will feature as an after dinner treat. A second substantial meal will return on longer flights, or alternately a hot breakfast on overnight flights. And yes – bar service will remain complimentary. A more descriptive version of the experience can be found here.

The Routes

This will expand to all British Airways long haul service on January 17th. So no – your flight from Europe to Europe will not receive four courses (nor should it). The first flight to receive the new and vastly improved meal service will be the BA117 operating from London Heathrow to New York. Expect to see this new catering on all flights starting January 17th. The longer the flight, the more food. It also appears that new and improved wine options will feature, with variation by route and region.

The Reaction

When you think of planes as an opportunity to target new customers for your wine, tea or food product – a plane is the most captive audience on earth. It’s phenomenal to see British Airways embracing this opportunity to improve service to dignified standards. The airline has been in a long standing price war with low cost competition, but for every action there must be a reaction. Customers are more than a fare and a positive experience is more powerful than airlines imagine. After all, many of our most read articles are about the best experiences, not the worst. People want the best, especially if it’s at a great price. With the soon to follow addition of wifi, British Airways will soon  offer a top drawer economy cabin. If it can fight on price too, it’s in for a long term winner – not a short term bandaid.

What do you think about these changes?