At best they can come as a distraction from the tedium of a long flight – while at worst they can be a stomach-churning pile of gloop.
So food lovers will be delighted to discover that British Airways has teamed up with celebrity chef Tom Kerridge to put some zest into its in-flight economy meals, which will be available on a ‘buy before you fly’ basis from a new ‘Speedbird Café’ service.
The gourmet menu will include a posh Warm Steak & Ale Pie; Ham Hock & Smoked Cheddar Sandwich; Chicken, Bacon & Celery Brioche Baguette; Soft Brie & Apple Chutney Ploughman’s sandwich, and vegetarian Spiced Cauliflower & Chickpea Tortilla Wrap, all costing between £4.10 and £4.50.
BA’s new economy class menu includes food available for purchase that’s been developed by double-Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge, pictured
Tom is particularly proud of the Warm Steak & Ale Pie, available to pre-order for £4.50
Other items on the Speedbird Café menu include BrewDog Jet Stream beer (£4.50), Pannier Champagne (£17 for 375ml), Bloody Mary (£6.50), Dash Sparkling Spring Water (£2), Tapas Box by Jose Pizarro (£5.95), Cambrook nuts (£1.50) and ‘luxurious’ Savoursmiths crisps (£1.35).
‘We want to make sure passengers get exactly what they want – so from now on if you order it, you’ll get it,’ said a BA spokesperson.
Orders must be placed up to 12 hours before departure on the High Life Shop website, with Duty Free available through this portal, too. There can be no change of mind once you’re airborne – no extra miniatures of gin or cans of lager can be purchased.
Tom Kerridge’s British Airways Ham Hock & Smoked Cheddar Sandwich (£4.10)
The Chicken, Bacon & Celery Brioche Baguette by Tom Kerridge (4.50)
The Soft Brie & Apple Chutney Ploughman’s sandwich by Tom Kerridge (£4.20)
It’s then a case of waiting until a member of the crew turns up at your seat with anything you have ordered.
Kerridge, 47, whose Hand & Flowers pub in Marlow is the first pub in the UK to be awarded two Michelin stars, is particularly pleased with his pies.
‘Britain is known all over the world for the quality of its meat and so these pies will be like ambassadors for British cuisine, with proper, glazed pastry and oozing with flavour,’ he said. ‘And the sandwiches will have a lot of crunch and punch. They’ll be substantial too.’
Want to hit ‘peak posh’ for pub food? Then make a beeline for The Hand & Flowers in the Georgian town of Marlow, Buckinghamshire
Dishes at Kerridge’s two-star The Hand & Flowers are mini works of art. It serves fish and chips and Sunday roasts, too
THE VERDICT ON TOM KERRIDGE’S BRITISH AIRWAYS FOOD
So just how good is the Tom Kerridge-branded BA food?
My verdict, after a box of it was couriered to my house – very tasty indeed and sold at a reasonable price point.
The pie is comforting and filled out with melt-in-the-mouth beef. The pastry is spot-on, too. The ham hock sandwich feels luxurious and the brioche baguette is full of flavour and I liked the contrasting textures, the crunch of the celery and the spongy softness of the brioche.
The soft brie sarnie, meanwhile, was equally impressive – filling and satisfying.
I think the partnership is a masterstroke. It’ll be very interesting to see what the flying public think.
Ted Thornhill, MailOnline Travel Editor
Is Kerridge worried the BA partnership will taint his reputation, that he’ll become associated with cattle-class sarnies rather than fine-dining Michelin-star food?
Kerridge said during an online press preview of the food: ‘At The Hand & Flowers, yes we have two Michelin stars, but we have fish and chips, and steak and chips, on the menu and we do Sunday lunch with roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. So we’ve never been about those tasting menus and gourmand-style food. We serve real ales and beers, the same as you would have in-flight.
‘We also own a butcher’s shop, we do pies at football grounds. But we always make sure they’re the best. I’m not worried at all. I’m super-proud and I hope people think that the best sandwich in the country is on a British Airway’s flight.’
BA has also confirmed that it is ditching its policy of charging passengers for water and snacks such as crisps or cereal bars, something that the ex-BA chief executive Alex Cruz introduced in 2017 and which was met with howls of protest.
‘We have listened to our passengers and noticed how during the pandemic people have been grateful to receive some complimentary items and so these will continue,’ said the spokesperson.
The Buy Before You Fly initiative will start later this month, even though hardly anyone is flying anywhere. But this bedding-in period should be an advantage just in case an entire plane of passengers were to pre-order several of Kerridge’s pies – and that unlucky person sitting in the back row has to miss out yet again.
Commenting on the new partnership, Rob Burgess, editor of frequent flyer website Head for Points, said: ‘This partnership is good news for BA’s Euro Traveller customers, and arguably the start of the unravelling of the Alex Cruz era by new BA CEO, Sean Doyle. It also sets a much more upmarket tone than the rumoured suggestion that Greggs Bakery might be the chosen partner! Getting Tom Kerridge on board in Euro Traveller, and focussing on quality ingredients and provenance, starts to erase the Cruz-inspired notion of BA’s “race to the bottom” with its cost cutting.’
Two dishes from The Hand & Flowers Cookbook – on the left is smoked haddock omelette and on the right Moules mariniere with warm stout foam and treacle bread