BA Catering meltdown at Heathrow – 1 July 2015

It was the warmest day of the year so far; the warmest July day for years but it had all been going so well.


My journey from the office was stress free, there was a helpful Hipster security man at Fast Track making sure everyone got through quickly (less than 5 minutes) and I was in the Concorde Room at Terminal 5 without problems.

One Glass of Champagne later…life was good.

The previous week I had eaten in the lounge and was then offered a salad on the plane, so this time I decided to skip food and wait for the in flight meal.


About an hour before the flight was due to take off, the BA app informed me that my gate was to be A10. This should have been a warning that things had got worse, in an instant. My walk through the terminal was nice enough despite being busy.





At A10 there were staff and no buses and it was about 30 minutes before they started boarding on to buses. Packed as usual, tempers were getting frayed as we got to the plane, parked off to the north of the BA gates. Three buses later we were ready to close the door and leave. (They did board Club passengers on to the first bus and then filled it up with EuroTraveller passengers.

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‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ said the pilot. This usually heralds a welcome aboard message, but on this occasion it was followed by ‘the wind direction has changed and so Heathrow is moving operations around and we will need to wait here for about thirty minutes.’

The crew were chatting among themselves and took their seats as we started to push back and taxi toward the eastern end of the runway. A short queue followed by an uneventful take off, and we climbed out over East Anglia.


‘Ladies and Gentlemen in the Club Europe cabin’ said the purser. ‘I am afraid that as it was so warm on the ground the food preparation company’s truck over heated so there is no catering for you today. We will offer you EuroTraveller food’


The explanation turned more spurious when I notice the strong smell of cooking food followed by the purser vanishing in to the cockpit with crew meals that seem magically to have been delivered appropriately temperature controlled. When I asked about this I was told that BA use a different supplier for crew meals. How likely is that?

The drink service in Club Europe was accompanied by two bags of nuts, rather than the usual one. I wanted a coffee but could only have one biscuit with it as ‘there is only enough for one each I am afraid sir.’


Once the EuroTraveller cabin had been given their sandwiches, Club Europe was offered the small chicken and bacon roll and a raspberry bun. We had to wait, you see, until they were sure that there was enough left over from EuroTraveller.


I asked that the Purser enter all of the information about this in to her iPad so that a complaint would be started before I got home. She agreed and collected everyone’s email.

Oh yes, the offer, 3,000 Avios. Not quite enough if you ask me.

Thinking about this further, I am pretty sure BA won’t be paying its supplier for food it could not serve – unless they have a really bad contract. Effectively this means that BA will be saving millions of pounds in food cost and not paying anything in compensation. I tweeted the BA team to see if they could so anything about this, read the exchange below:



Of course, the party line was basically ‘No, you’re stuck.’

So it seems BA will be making millions at the expense of its higher fare paying customers. The lounge issue is spurious of course as no one had the courage to tell us of the problem until we were at 10,000 feet, far away from the nearest Pret a Manger.


  1. In the states I’d have disputed this charge with my credit card and refused to pay for “services not as promised”

  2. “So it seems BA will be making millions at the expense of its higher fare paying customers.” >>

    If one truck overheated how does that translate into millions for BA? Hundreds or thousands maybe (depending upon how many planes were not catered by the faulty truck).

    I see the above unfortunate incident as the same as a severe weather issue. Sometimes BA cannot control everything. They did offer unlimited food and drink in their lounge, they served minimal food aboard, they apologized, and they offered extra Avios.

    Alerting passengers ahead of the flight is wishful thinking but like with weather, the breakdown might have occurred last minute.

    Always have a plan B (and by that I mean a flask). 🙂

  3. @SINJIM – the problem apparently affected flights for most of the afternoon and so BA were well aware of it in respect of my trip. Odd that it all worked for the crew meals where presumably the flights would not have left if not catered.

  4. Qantas did this to me on a flight SYD-LAX in premium economy. We all got a $200 voucher for it.

  5. I had a similar experience flying First last year from Rio. Seems there was a loading issue and there was no first bar or food for the return journey.

    In the end I was offered 30’000 avios, but it took a lot of fighting to even get that.

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