British Airways Pre-Order Meals, Copying American and Rolling Out Next Week

First discussed over the summer, British Airways pre order meals are rolling out.

According to Flyertalk the British Airways pre order meals program begins November 18, taking meals for flights December 1 onward, and the offering will be available in premium economy and not just business and first class.

Customers can simply select their meal from 30 days before their flight departs, right up to 24 hours prior to take-off through the ‘manage my booking’ tool on The pre-order service will initially be available on flights between Heathrow and Las Vegas, Phoenix, Rio de Janeiro, Vancouver, Dallas and Seattle, with more routes to be added in early 2015.

This Works Just Like American Airlines Pre-Order

We may not usually think of American Airlines as a global leader, but they remain the only U.S. airline offering pre-order meals. Two years ago they introduced online pre-order meals.

You pick your selection between 30 day sand 24 hours prior to flight. That means any last minute upgrades, or change of flights, and you don’t have your meal pre-reserved. But it’s a way to ensure they don’t run out of your preferred entree, and presumably it also helps them reduce extra food boarded and leads to catering savings.

Now American’s joint venture partner British Airways pre order meals are rolling out with a similar approach.

British Airways Pre Order Meals Not Up to World Standard

When I think about premium cabin pre-order meals, images of Singapore Airlines’ Book the Cook pop into mind. I dodn’t imagine British Airways would offer pre-order lobster thermidor for Boston-London. Although I’ve used Thai Airways pre-order service to do the lobster on the morning Bangkok – Hong Kong run.

    british airways pre order mealsLobster thermidor, Singapore business class, Singapore – Bali

    british airways pre order mealsLobster Pad Thai, Thai Airways first class, Bangkok – Beijing

    british airways pre order mealsLobster thermidor, Singapore first class, Tokyo – Singapore

British Airways isn’t giving you an extensive menu the way that Singapore does. (Thai Airways makes this available, so does EVA Airways. And if you want a Royal Korean meal on Asiana flights departing Seoul you need to order it in advance.)

Instead they will let you choose in advance from the entree selections that will otherwise be on the plane.

How Does Pre-Order Change What You Order?

On U.S. domestic flights there’s usually only a choice of two items. It’s pretty clear what I’ll want most of the time, either because one of the options is for something I’d be unlikely ever to want or because I’ve had one of the options previously and found it wanting.

For international, with most choices, it’s a little bit trickier. First there are more choices. And second the food is generally better. Do you know what you will want to eat days in advance? I suspect you will choose different foods through pre-order than you would on the plane.

When I first signed up for Netflix years ago (remember when you used to get DVDs sent to you in the mail? Every Monday morning the outgoing mail bin at work was nothing but Netflix envelopes) my movie habits changed. Renting one movie at a time as a one-off, or buying something on-demand, I’d only choose the most enticing thing at that moment. Putting things into a queue, picking them in advance, I’d add more of the things lower down the list that I figured I should see.

Expectations about your future self, or maybe just my expectations for my future self, are widely different than my preferences at the moment. I find internationally I’ll just pick a ‘safe’ option. It’s probably not what I’d enjoy the most in the moment, but it’s a way to avoid being stuck with something I really wouldn’t eat.

I’d love to see the data on pre-order choices versus inflight selection.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Speaking of pre-ordering meals on AA, I find the feature never works when I get upgraded to Business/First. I’m doing a MR SFO-JFK-SFO this weekend and have been upgraded as an EXP. Tried multiple times to reserve my meals (outside the 24 hour cut-off window) but my selection never takes. Have had the same issue when using a system wide upgrade and it clears a few days before the flight. But on trip where I use points for Business/First, I can pre-order my meal and it takes. This has happed multiple times with upgraded flights. Gary… have you had this IT issue with pre-ordered meals on upgraded AA flights?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *