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British Airways to axe free food and drink on short-haul flights

British Airways’ short-haul travellers will soon have to pay for food and drink on-board, after the airline announced it will scrap its complimentary catering options.

The airline will remove the free service for its economy passengers from January 11, 2017.

Business class passengers will continue to receive the complimentary service, with revamped options being introduced from Spring 2017.

This move to strip out further in-flight extras reflects the business models of low cost airlines such as Easyjet and Ryanair.

The new food will be provided by Marks and Spencer and include sandwiches priced at £3-£4.75, soft drinks from £1.50 and alcoholic drinks from £4.

Example prices for British Airways vs no-frills carriers:


Airline and price

Airline and price

Airline and price

M&S on board


Easyjet £4.50

Ryanair £3.89


Norwegian £4.50

£3 for nine month aged farmhouse cheddar cheese ploughman’s or £4.75 for Aberdeen Angus beef and red onion chutney bloomer

Hot sandwich


Easyjet £4.50

Ryanair £4.76


Norwegian £4.50

£4.75 (Café bacon bun)


Easyjet £1.80

Ryanair £2.16


Norwegian £2.00


salt & vinegar and lightly salted hand cooked crisps


Cup of coffee

Easyjet £2.30

Ryanair £2.59


Norwegian £2.50


Bottle of water (500ml)

Easyjet £1.80

Ryanair £2.59


Norwegian £2.00


Quarter bottle of wine

Easyjet £4.50

Ryanair £5.19


Norwegian £4.00


Spirits and mixer

Easyjet £5.60

Ryanair £6.58


Norwegian £6.50



Easyjet £4

Ryanair £3.89


Norwegian £4


Source: British Airways

British Airways said the collaboration with Marks and Spencer highlights “dissatisfaction” among travellers with its current short-haul economy catering.

Alex Cruz, British Airways' chairman and CEO, said: “I firmly believe what we are delivering breaks the mould and sets a new standard in short-haul catering.  We will be providing a selection of premium brand, fresh food options and a menu that will be refreshed on a quarterly basis.

“We will also enable travellers to be able to use their Avios, the points they earn as an Executive Club member, to purchase meals. We know they’re always looking for ways to use their Avios and this is a great option for them.”

Avios members can use their flyer points to pay for the items via the BA app or with their Executive Club card.

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I hope that BA will continue to provide free drinking water on flights. Apart from the dehydrating effect of flying and the need for some passengers to keep hydrated for medical reasons, it is a basic human right.

Ian Epps's picture
Ian Epps (not verified)

And not doubt more people will bring their own smelly fast food onboard instead.

I'm not sure I see this is breaking any mould - surely it's using the mould of the low cost airlines?
And regardless of what they start with - I bet the product offering and quality also drops in two years time - M&S now, Boots Meal Deal next then Tesco the step after.

Profit before a service's picture
Profit before a... (not verified)

I just can't believe it took them so long to realise how out of date and poor their onboard catering has been. Just goes to show how out of touch BA and the other legacy airlines are. Too big to care. To slow to change. Thank goodness for Stelios and the new model airlines that have sprung up in his wake. Give me Norwegian and Easyjet any day. They really do focus on what the customer really wants.

And as for breaking the mould. Who are BA trying to kid? Have they not seen what the new model airlines have been doing? Or have they had their heads in the sand all these years.

Shame on you for being so arrogant. But that's BA for you!

Robert Daykin's picture
Robert Daykin (not verified)

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