a box with food in it

It turns out, people in first class just don’t quite enjoy the two lonely fingers of a Kit Kat, pre made sandwich and lone water bottle left at their seat, sans booze, for the money. The same for economy. British Airways recently updated their in flight service across all long haul cabins, from what was effectively nothing, to something far more palatable and attractive, but still, it’s “different” and different often takes a bit of time to get used to.

During a recent June 27th trip from London to Boston, GSTP’ friend Adina of TravelZork sampled the new economy service, and we’ve got all the juicy details on what to expect, what’s missing and whether it’s “worth it” right now…

Booking British Airways World Traveller During Covid-19

If there’s one trend ringing true in travel right now, it’s last minute, with a side of flexibility. Adina, a US citizen, needed to travel to the USA for work and was able to spend 25,000 British Airways Avios and £50 for a one way World Traveller (economy) ticket, rather than absorbing the cash cost of the high prices travelers are seeing for near term travel.

If you’ve got near term travel needs and a few Avios, or credit card points hiding away, be sure to compare the cost of booking a cash ticket versus potential savings with using points.

a woman wearing a face mask and taking a selfieSeating Assignments

Adina has British Airways Executive Club Silver elite status, which entitles her to complimentary seat selection on all flights, even when using miles. Using this benefit, Adina was able to select an empty row bringing additional legroom.

Better yet, she could keep making complimentary changes to the seating assignment in case someone selected a seat in the row.

Even for those without status, British Airways is making attempts to space out passengers, and comply with passenger requests for a seat away from others, wherever possible. Like many airlines, it’s not actively blocking middle seats, so on a full flight there’s no guarantee you won’t have a neighbor.

Masks For All?

British Airways stepped up enforcement and wording of its mask policy, after negative press showing flights where both crews and passengers were not following the crucial safety advice. Adina reports that masks were indeed worn by all, but couldn’t speak to enforcement since everyone played by the rules.

a hand sanitizer gel and a hand sanitizer gelNew Sanitizing Kits

In response to Virgin Atlantic offering 3 medical grade masks, hand sanitizer, and wipes, British Airways quickly launched their own version of personal cleaning and hygiene kits, offered to each and every passenger on board. The kits don’t include any masks, but do include hand sanitizer and an antibacterial towel. #BYOMonBA

A year ago, who could’ve predicted airlines would finally clean their planes, and that it would be the passengers, not employees doing it ; )a hand holding a blue package

New British Airways Economy Meal And Drink Service

British Airways appears to be getting it pretty “right”, right now in regards to economy meal service. DO&CO, British Airways caterer on most routes is offering sealed “bento box” style meals to avoid contact, while still maintaining a solid level of sustenance. a blue box with a label on it next to a bottle of wine

Travelers can self cater as much as they wish, bringing all the snacks, sushi or tikka masala from home, or a takeaway en route to the airport. But for a short flight across the Atlantic, this service isn’t far off what it was just prior, in the days before covid-19, and it looks both healthy and relatively attractive.

The main meal box included the vegetarian option of a cold hummus sandwich, chickea salad, choco-caramel pot, bottled water and sealed utensils. Prior to landing, a second “meal” involving a reheated slice of pizza was served, which also came in a box. Pizza is pizza. a box with food in it

Was the meal service enough, or better? Adina notes the meal was borderline in terms of quantity but the quality was very good. DO&CO is one of the world’s best food hospitality brands, so it’s nice to see it hasn’t lost its touch.

One positive: service was notably faster. Everyone on earth is looking to limit close contact, particularly with strangers, so quickly dropping off some items is about as good as it gets for the foreseeable future. If you’re traveling in the near term, follow these 11 tips for a safe and enjoyable journey, with self catering being a main one.

a bottle of wine and a plastic cup
Vina Albali gets a 3/5 on Vivino, but in economy it is what it is…

British Airways Economy Booze Right Now

Beer and wine were available in personal sized bottles, and in that regard order has been restored for nervous, or bored travelers. Vina Albali, the red wine featured on this flight scores a meager 3/5 stars on Vivino, and retails in stores for £5 for a 750ml bottle. Are there better wines for the price? Of course there are, but at least it’s there.

If you’re at all interested in BA’s wine program, wine legend Jancis Robinson offers a great take.

Spirits are still missing, but that’s mainly to avoid extra contact created from things like dishing out ice, lime and lemon wedges and needing constant refills, and less about cost cutting. Given the context of the world right now, this seems totally fair. Ice is one more thing which someone must load, touch, individually put into cups and slow things down, which is not ideal right now.

British Airways World Traveller Experience During Covid-19

Adina from TravelZork has flown British Airways in economy many times over the last few years and was overall impressed, or at least satisfied with the experience. It’s an awkward time for every business right now – travel in particular,- and while this economy service won’t have people rushing to book tickets, few people ever did based on meal or drink options anyway.

Economy is about price, schedule and reliability, and if British Airways manage to get those things right, they’ll have a solid option flying for the next few months. Of course, if someone offers a much better experience at the same price, with the same schedule and reliability… that’s another story.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Thanks for the article! How long do you predict this ‘meal’ service will last?

    Planning to fly First or Business to Singapore in late September on Avios and I don’t want to waste all my points (and companion voucher) if they’re going to be giving out packed lunches

    1. Honestly, a while. At least September in my opinion at the very earliest. First would offer many more boxes, with many previous treats, but obvs a different experience.

  2. Sounds like a significant improvement on what they were trying to get away with a week ago Do you know whether Travel Zork also has a commercial relationship with BA?

  3. Interesting that BA served a Vegetarian meal as I understood that no “special” meals were available.

    1. There are two options – vegetarian and non vegetarian which you select on board. No pre-pre-ordering or other specials are available.

  4. I flew BA in FIRST on 24 July from DFW to LHR on the brand new 787-10. I was the only passenger I FIRST. I received a hot meal (steak, potatoes and spinach) in a box along with salad, cheese plate, roll, and dessert. The wine was from economy served in plastic cups and the welcome drink was a bottle of water with crisps. Hardly worth the cost. At least I had one seat for my meal. One to watch the movie and one to sleep! I did get pyjamas and an amenity for FWIW

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