British Airways Testing Free Water for Elite Passengers (Not a Joke)

Doug Parker and Scott Kirby tried several innovations at US Airways that they ultimately had to roll back like elimination of free water in coach and elimination of elite bonuses for flights.

There is a bridge too far, even in the airline industry. But executives are always trying to find that line.

British Airways has destroyed their brand with their cuts. They offered free tap water but even hot water for tea was charged. On. British. Airways. So you had to pay even if you brought your own tea bags.

British Airways Tea Service, First Class London Heathrow – San Francisco

No wonder this passenger in a British Airways lounge at London Heathrow was caught on video stuffing 20 cans of beer and chips in their bag to go.

It seems that British Airways is now testing free coffee, tea, and water on short haul flights — but only for mid-tier elites and above. The ‘trial’ is running on London – Geneva, a premium route in their short haul network if there ever was one.

For everyone else flying British Airways the ultimate ‘unbundling’ continues. Your ticket doesn’t entitle you to hot water. Because as the head of BA’s parent corporation put it in an investor presentation,

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 »

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  1. I really think US airlines should eliminate free water as well, it’s really a great opportunity to get an extra $7 of revenue or more for up-selling passengers to a fare that includes a bottle of water. Jetstar in Australia has done it, BA has done it, why not United?

  2. Meh.

    They have these wonderful things called water bottles. I always carry one when flying – no matter if the airline is charging me for water or not.

    I will fly BA when I need to and not when I don’t.

  3. Discount Douggie, Cruz and Kirby should get together and form the Bottom of the Barrel “Dream Team”

    I should be careful what I wish for…

  4. My son used to joke about airlines charging for water and air. Well, we’re halfway there….

  5. To be fair water is still free for everyone whether you are elite status or not. The downside being that a) you have to wait until they serve everyone else b) it is tank water which I wouldn’t drink even if they paid me! It’s a shame they haven’t made it a wider offering and said that you can have any soft drink which would be a better gesture.

  6. You probably think this was just about the cost of plastic-bottle water. But you can bet some smart MBA has done the following calculus to find even more BA water-based savings — on jet fuel: If humans are 85% water by weight, and you can dehydrate them, by, say 10% of that during flight, and the average human passenger is 150 lbs, times number of passengers, times jet fuel cost per gallon, times gallons per jet fuel per pound ….

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