British Airways now charges for food and drink on intra-Europe flights in economy. They go much father than US airlines, who are actually bringing amenities (like stroopwafels) back to coach.
With these changes across the Pond you can no longer get complimentary tea. On British Airways. Even if you bring your own tea bag, because BA will charge for hot water.
British Airways will serve tap water for free. Do you want to drink airline tank water? (British Airways, where “E. coli and the germ that causes Legionnaire’s disease” are included!)
We packed sample vials and took to the skies, hopping on 14 different flights everywhere from Atlanta to Sydney, Australia. On each, we collected water from the galley and lavatory taps, sealed them up and sent them to a lab for analysis. The results of our water-quality snapshot: a long list of microscopic life you don’t want to drink, from Salmonella and Staphylococcus to tiny insect eggs. Worse, contamination was the rule, not the exception: Almost all of the bacteria levels were tens, sometimes hundreds, of times above U.S. government limits.
Queuing at Heathrow for Tap Water
In the U.S. Spirit Airlines charges for water while its legacy airline competitors do not (US Airways tried – briefly – but even the now American Airlines management backed off of that quickly suggesting Scott Kirby could see in his spreadsheets that customers were booking away from the airline).
Customers based near London with a strong preference for Heathrow may still book British Airways but there are fewer reasons to choose BA over low cost competitors now. It’s like the airline is giving permission for its customers to consider alternatives.
Will Charging for Tea Help British Airways Fill Planes?
British Airways domestic flights don’t have a premium cabin [they do sell premium fares, but those come with lounge access and not a separate onboard cabin]. Everyone pays for water on those flights — even customers connecting off of long haul first class. Pay $10,000 one-way for a ticket, pay for water on your connecting flight.
There’s really no domestic competition (no one else wants to fly within the UK really, Virgin tried and it didn’t work) so you’d think this would be the lowest risk part of the change. But the poor experience for a premium passenger is likely to cause them to connect through a city other than London, on an airline other than BA, when flying to other UK destinations.
not enough food loaded, some flights where no food at all was loaded, and cabin crew struggling to make the payment card system work. BA does not accept cash, although they allow frequent fliers to pay with miles. Several crew members claimed what little training they were given had taken place nearly four months ago.
The option to pay with miles means spending Avios at less than one cent per point. A 12 ounce cup of coffee is 300 Avios. A can of Coke is a relative value at 225 Avios.
Charging for water — and especially charging premium passengers connecting domestically for water — seems like a mistake. And reducing product differentiation between BA and its lower cost competitors seems like a mistake. Given their higher cost structure, they need to earn a revenue premium. Competing at the low cost game with airlines whose costs are lower seems like a game they’re destined to lose. And it means that they offer lower service levels than competing European legacy airlines on non-stop routes between London and the rest of Europe.
But if they’re going to do this, at least provision the aircraft and train flight attendants properly on how to take payment.