On Wednesday 11 January 2016 British Airways will be switching from offering complimentary catering to all passengers to offer a buy on board offering for short haul economy passengers. In theory this now brings the product in line with what is offered by Virgin Trains East Coast (trolley/Foodbar for standard class and complimentary for first class). But there's a few points to note:
- On domestic flights BA does not provide a business class option (known as Club Europe by BA) meaning that those who want complimentary catering won't be able to get this on domestics at launch. BA have promised domestic Club Europe at a later date but have released no further details.
- On shorter flights it's possible that there's no enough time to serve all rows if this service proves popular.
- Bringing you own supplies is easier on the train as you don't have to go through security where there's restrictions on liquids.
- It will be possible to pay using the Avios using the BA app, this means the points earned on the flight can be used to offset the catering costs. You can't pay with points on the train but you can buy vouchers for £4 that are worth £5 on board.
- Cash will not be accepted on board BA flights for catering purchases.
If you want to compare the British Airways offering with the Virgin Trains East Coast offering they both publish their menus online:
In general the VTEC on-train prices are better than the BA prices:
- Bacon roll: VTEC £4.00, BA £4.75
- Tea: VTEC £1.95, BA £2.30
- Beer: VTEC £3.40-£3.95 (500ml), BA £4.00 (330ml)
- Coke: VTEC £1.90 (500ml), BA £1.80 (330ml)
- Water: VTEC £1.65, BA £1.80 (both 500ml)
- Sandwiches: VTEC £4.00 (max), BA £4.95 (max)
- Hot chocolate: VTEC £2.45, BA £2.70
- KitKat: VTEC 95p, BA £1.20
Wine and prosecco are the same prices on both, the prosecco is the same brand but I'm not aware of the quality of the other wines.
There's a few items that are better priced on BA:
- Coffee: VTEC £2.45, BA £2.30 (note that coffee purchased from the Foodbar on VTEC is now bean to cup so should be better quality)
- Porridge: VTEC £1.90, BA £1.40
- Wasabi peas: VTEC £2.45, BA £1.60