British Airways To End Complimentary Food + Drinks?

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I was glancing at Twitter over the weekend (important research, definitely didn’t get distracted!), and noticed rumours beginning to circulate about whether British Airways might ditch the complimentary food and drinks they currently offer in Economy on short-haul flights.

British Airways


The idea would be to replace the freebies with a ‘buy on board’ policy, similar to what is offered by Ryanair/Easyjet etc.

The Great British press seem a bit confused as to when, or even if, this change is actually going to happen, despite some strident headlines – The Independent: “British Airways to begin charging for food on short-haul economy flights”, The Telegraph: “British Airways to start charging customers for food on flights”.

The reality, as things stand, is that complimentary food and drinks will continue to be served until further notice. BA are still advertising that, “whenever and wherever you are travelling, we offer a complimentary snack or meal and bar service”.

People will have made future bookings on that basis, so I doubt there will be any dramatic, immediate, changes.

Is this happening then or not?

Almost definitely yes, but not quite yet.

British Airways Euro Traveller food
BA may have used a bit of artistic license in the photography of Euro Traveller food…

For what it’s worth, the official line from BA is that,

“we always listen to our customers’ ideas and feedback and we are constantly looking at a range of ways to enhance the flying experience. As and when we have anything new to announce, we’ll let you know”.

If any readers have had the misfortune to work in Politics/PR, you will no doubt recognise that the statement above isn’t even a non-denial denial, it’s basically just a non-denial. Points and Miles enthusiasts may simply note the dreaded word – “enhance”.

To translate: yes the change is being very seriously considered and unless there is a mass outcry or something unforeseen happens, is probably going to happen fairly soon.

British Airways Gin and Tonic
“How much?!?!”

I’ve heard talk of this sort of change for a while now, and it seems in line with the general direction at BA (and IAG, BA’s parent company, more broadly) these days.

The other IAG airlines (Iberia, Vueling and Aer Lingus) already charge for food and drinks in Economy on short-haul flights, and the the introduction of Hand Baggage Only fares by BA was a clear attempt to try and challenge the low cost carriers more effectively on price.

Reading between the lines, it strikes me (though I do not know for certain), that the press have been briefed, off the record, by senior BA sources that the change is going to be made – but BA want to judge the public reaction first before nailing their colours to the mast and making an official announcement.

Watch this space!

What do you think about the potential changes? Some people love the idea of being able to buy more substantial/better quality food, but I’m going to really miss the complimentary G&Ts!


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