Pre-ordering menu selections isn’t new of course, It has been available in business and first class on many airlines for a number of years. However, BA have taken this a step further and have begun to offer a small but varied selection of special pre-order menus in economy (World Traveller) class.
This new initiative was launched in April, and is currently on trial on a limited number of transatlantic routes. Fortunately, this included the LHR-PHL service that I’ve taken as the outward leg on this week’s trip to Portland.
The option to pre-order a special menu appears when managing the booking after making the original reservation (I made my selection 3 says before the flight was due to leave) – according to BA, this option must be purchased between 30 days and 24 hours before the flight, to allow time for the meal to be prepared and assigned to the flight.
Here are the options I was given on my 17:25 flight to the US:
As you can see, it’s a good-sized range with selections that would fit most dietary preferences. I personally liked the look of the Gourmet Dining option as prawns and beed are common menu choices when dining a la carte, though the Taste of Britain option ran it close. The prices seemed very reasonable, given the relative cost of transatlantic flights, the uplift that BA charges for even the step up to Premium Economy, and the effort involved in providing individual menu selections on a packed flight.
So how did it work out?
Actually, very well indeed!
One of the unexpected bonuses is that the food came out first, a long way ahead of the other passengers in the World Traveller class, and that despite my position in the bulkhead row of seats at the front of that section. Given I was trying to get work done on the flight, I was really pleased to get the meal service out of the way early on, so that worked well.
The dishes themselves were well-designed, flavourful and of good portion size (particularly the beef). I particularly appreciated the accompaniment for the king prawns, it wasn’t your average sickly pink marie-rose sauce, but instead was more savoury in approach and worked well with the prawns and tomato. The beef was extremely tasty, and incredibly tender – it didn’t look that great though, presentation could have been better (it certainly didn’t look anything like the photo that accompanies this article). The grenache was small in size but very rich, and worked well in combination with the other courses. There was also crackers and cheese, but I gave those a miss.
There’s no doubt that the presentation is still economy class – everything served all at once on one very packed tray with catering lids and foil still intact.
That said, I thought it was a really good option and a considerable step up from the usual World Traveller fare, and definitely impressive value for the £18 ($28) cost.
If you’re planning a transatlantic trip on BA in the near future, I’d recommend you give the new menu options a try.