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Prepare to Pay for Drinks and Snacks on Short-Haul BA Flights — Even Tea Isn't Free

Jan. 12, 2017
3 min read
Prepare to Pay for Drinks and Snacks on Short-Haul BA Flights — Even Tea Isn't Free
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Beginning last summer, British Airways revealed that a whole slew of cutbacks would be coming to in-flight service. First, the airline made cuts to the in-flight service in the business-class cabin on long-haul flights. Next up was long-haul economy — BA replaced the second meal with a snack bar on flights shorter than 8.5 hours between the US and Canada and the UK.

Finally, last summer, BA shared that it'd begin charging for both food and beverages (including tea and coffee!) on short-haul flights from London. Note that only short-haul flights from Heathrow (LHR) and Gatwick (LGW) include the new for-purchase catering as of now. Flights from London City (LCY) and Stansted (STN) airports won't get the new catering until this summer.

This week, the carrier has made the full menu of food and beverages available online, along with each item's price. What's more British than a hot cup of tea in the morning? That'll run you £2.30 (about $2.80). Even if you bring your own tea bag, BA will charge you the same amount just for the cup of hot water. Only cold tap water will be available on request for no charge. If you want a bottle of water, it'll cost you £1.80 (about $2.20) for both still and sparkling. Most wines and spirits are priced at £4.50 (about $5.40), however there are more premium options that can cost you up to £16 (about $19.30).

BA's going to make you pay for that cup of quintessentially British tea.

If you're hungry, the carrier has partnered with British retailer Marks & Spencer to provide for-purchase food items on short-haul flights. All food items cost less than £5 (about $6) and there are plenty of options — from cashews to KitKat bars to a smoked British bacon roll.

A smoked British bacon roll will cost you 600 Avios — not a great value.

You'll have the option of using your Avios to pay for your onboard selections — a bottle of still or sparkling water is priced at 225 Avios, which equates to roughly $3.40 according to TPG's most recent valuations. That cup of tea will cost 300 Avios, worth about $4.50, while your lower-end alcoholic beverages will require 575 Avios — a value of about $8.60. In most cases, if you elect to use Avios for your in-flight food or beverage purchases, you won't be getting a great deal. If you do find yourself purchasing a drink or snack on your next BA short-haul flight, make sure to use a credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which doesn't charge foreign transaction fees and should earn you bonus points for travel spend.

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Has anyone tried out British Airways' new, for-purchase catering items?

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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