(First published on November 11, 2014 with additional updates on February 6, 2015) Have you gotten on a flight and found out that your preferred meal choice was all taken? Following a successful trial back in the Summer, pre-order meals is now available on selected British Airways (BA) routes starting on December 1, 2014.
BA will introduce the new service on the following international routes in December 2014. Other destinations would be added starting early 2015. (* This service is in addition to ordering dietary related meals).
Which Passengers Would Get This Service?
The following passengers can start to reserve meals starting November 18, 2014:
This new service will benefit both passengers and BA.
- Bespoke-like service ensuring that first meal choice would be delivered.
- Additional information on meal choices would be provided 30 days ahead of time so that any food allergies can be noted
- Additional perk that is not widely offered by international airlines
- Real-time inventory on meals order to manage catering costs
- Manage which meals are more popular with passengers
- Can be used as a marketing tool alongside pre-flight lounge dining pioneered by the airline
For Trans Atlantic flights, only One World alliance partner American Airlines (AA) has a similar type of service currently. AA offers this feature to its First and Business Class passengers and requires 24 hour notice. BA would be the only airline in the world to provide this service to economy passengers.
Critical Success Factors
BA has an opportunity to create a competitive advantage with this new offering. The following is a list of critical success factors for BA:
- All eligible systems should be integrated and tested prior to roll out on November 18, 2014 to ensure that the service would be available.
- The service should be marketed and communicated so that passengers can take advantage of it
- All meal orders should be managed and delivered to passengers with regular menu updates as advertised.
There are many benefits for both passengers (e.g. enhanced service) and BA (e.g. catering cost management) on introducing this type of service. It would be interesting to observe whether other international airlines would implement a similar type of program to compete (especially in hotly contested markets like New York City to London).
Updated on February 6, 2015
Following the successful launch of the pre-order meal service on 6 different routes, BA announced that it will expand the program immediately to 6 more routes followed by another 9 by March 1, 2015 (Refer to the infographics below for the second and third wave destinations). It is expected that all BA long haul routes would have this service by the end of the year.
Lynn McClelland, BA’s head of catering, said: “We understand how important it is for customers to enjoy their flight and part of this involves them being able have their first choice meal.
“We initially selected six routes to offer pre order meals on that covered a variety of different journey times. This allowed us to get feedback from our customers and crew which has been hugely positive.
“We want to give customers as much choice as possible when flying and we are delighted that we have been able to extent this service onto more routes.”
There have not been a lot of technical problems reported online regarding the roll out of the pre-order meal service. It is a smart idea for BA to continue this implementation by waves and monitor any resource constraints for adjustments. It is expected that this type of specialization will continue to be implemented across different airlines in the future.