British Airways considering meal vouchers a.k.a. lipstick on a (Percy) Pig

I was reading Traveling for Miles and they are reporting that British Airways are considering selling meal vouchers for their European buy on board product.

Let me get this out the way first, I can’t stand buy on board.  I think it’s a disgrace to the British Airways brand to only be able to provide customers a plastic cup of tap water, let alone a cup of tea included in the price of their ticket.

What hasn’t helped is the way that they have implemented it.  Being British Airways under Alex Cruz, rather than deliver something themselves, they’ve actually outsourced the whole effort.  What they essentially did was let out the right to sell products on their aircraft, rather than delivering a customer-focused improvement.

So when the cabin crew go through the aircraft selling M&S sandwiches, British Airways don’t own the stock they’re selling, it’s a company called Tourvest.

This means that Tourvest have no incentive to increase loadings of the products on flights, as if they don’t sell them, the food spoils and it’s essentially a cost to them.  This results in them on loading what they know they will actually sell.

For example a friend of mine who’s cabin crew (I won’t say any more than that), had a single sandwich loaded on an A321 on a domestic evening flight.  That’s one sandwich for around 170 people in the Euro Traveller cabin.

The implementation of buy on board gets worse.  They don’t take cash at all.  Pre-pay cards, nah.  If you have a chip and sign card, then yes, you have to sign the slip too.

So if you end up booking late or changing your flight having bought a Plus fare and end up near the back of the aircraft, the chances of either the cart reaching you before the end of the flight, or there actually being anything left for you to buy, are slim.

My own personal experience of buy on board have been pretty woeful too.  On a London to Paris flight, I asked for a cup of water and was told to head to the galley after the service and get it myself.  Upon complaining to the purser, he explained that he didn’t know the service as he normally worked in Club i.e. it’s not my problem.

So now, if the report from Traveling for Miles is true, they’re now looking to print money for themselves.

We know that flights don’t go out with enough food (as there’s no incentive to), and we know that it takes too long to complete the service on the shorter flights, so I reckon the chance of actually getting to use the voucher on a flight are low to nil.

So if they start selling meal deals (perhaps a sandwich, packet of crips and a drink) and they don’t have one of the items left, you’ll have to write in to customer relations, wait, and get a standard cut and paste reply saying sorry.  I wouldn’t hold my breath on getting a refund, most likely just another useless voucher or a few Avios to buy the same products you couldn’t the first time with the vouchers you’re complaining about.

If they do start selling vouchers, it’s putting further lipstick on the buy on board (Percy) pig.

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