Question: Why do you think it’s okay for British Airways to charge one-third more for an M&S sandwich than the price on the High Street? Doesn’t look very pro-consumer to me.
Answer: British Airways has now confirmed The Independent’s revelation that it is to ditch its long-standing free catering on flights, at least in economy class in short haul. From 11 January, on flights of under five hours from Heathrow and Gatwick, passengers in the cheap seats will have to pay for food and drink on board.
BA has chosen Marks & Spencer to supply the food, and prices will be higher than at ground level. A £2.25 (about R40) cheese ploughman’s sandwich rises by one-third to £3 (about R50), while a packet of crisps will be £1, nearly a quarter more than the High Street price.
Yes, I do think the increased prices are not unreasonable. Getting a sandwich from wherever it is made to an M&S food store is a straightforward matter. Getting that sandwich on board a British Airways flight is much more complicated. As with anything that goes “airside”, it needs to be security checked. Next, the quantities of each item going on board are small relative to the typical shop, pushing up the unit cost. And then the thing needs to be flown hundreds or thousands of miles across Europe, adding to the fuel bill. Agreed, the extra fuel burn for a packet of crisps isn’t huge, which is perhaps why the mark-up is smaller.
What is less reasonable is the high cost of a cup of tea (£2.30), but even that is only 30p more than a number of train operators who don’t have to take water to 30 000 feet and boil it.
My recommendation for all passengers: don’t pay the £1.80 demanded for a bottle of water. Take an empty bottle through security and ask at a bar or restaurant for it to be filled.