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Your recent feedback on catering in our lounges [General discussion]

Your recent feedback on catering in our lounges [General discussion]

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Old Oct 13, 14, 5:26 am   -   Wikipost
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In most of BA's lounges across the UK (LHR, LGW, NCL, MAN, EDI, GLA, ABZ but not BHD), a new catering provider was launched in May 2013.

Unfortunately, Flyertalkers have almost entirely disapproved of the new offerings. The relevant thread in question is here: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...ay-2013-a.html

BA's Official Contact (BA Executive Club), Nicci, here provides a response to that criticism, which has generated more discussion about the new lounge catering proposition.

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Old May 22, 13, 10:49 am
  #1  
Company Representative - British Airways
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Your recent feedback on catering in our lounges [General discussion]

Dear all

Thank you for your feedback so far both on the threads and via pm - we recognise how important our catering in our lounges is to you.

The team has been working hard during the transition to Baxter Storey since 25 April which will complete with T1 on 13 June. As our hospitality partner we believe that their ethos around fresh food and good service will help us provide a premium service in our lounges. In response to your feedback we wanted to provide some background and an update on where we plan to make changes.

Our customer research clearly showed that customers wanted something appropriate for the time of day, improved choice and variety. In response to this we introduced a buffet from 12pm-3pm and from 6pm-close. We chose to focus on a high quality afternoon tea offering between 3pm-6pm in all lounges. During this period, anyone who prefers not to take afternoon tea can choose from sandwiches, soup and the fruit and ambient snacks that are available all day. There are no plans to re-introduce a continuous buffet but we will continue to monitor your and other customer feedback on this issue.

Variety in snacks was also a strong theme from our research. We now provide a greater selection of fresh fruit as well as a better quality range of biscuits and cakes. The packaging limited our options, so we chose a fresher product that could also be displayed in an attractive way. Current consumption of cakes and biscuits has increased significantly plus we have had many positive comments about the quality and variety so we have no plans to change this.

In the First lounge and the Concorde Room, we accept there have been issues during transition. We moved from a pre-prepared product to a fresher product on all day dining, which required a different skill set from the team, and we have now made changes to address this and have received positive comments from our customers in regards to the food that is now being offered from our menus. We are working on the F class buffet as we accept that changes are needed and we have reviewed and incorporated current feedback in the offer which will be implemented shortly.

We have also received some general feedback about lounge appearance and clearing away, especially at busy times. We have deployed extra staff to ensure that we maintain the high standards that our customers expect.

Finally, please accept our apologies for any disappointment related to the transition. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for your patience during this time and give you our assurances we are committed to making improvements and we are confident that we can deliver these and more through our new partnership.

As ever, please do continue to tell us your feedback on this thread and we will monitor it closely.

Warm regards

Nicci
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Old May 22, 13, 10:53 am
  #2  
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Thanks for your reply, and I don't want to shoot the messenger.

But nothing said there has reassured me for the future.

As I have a good position on the thread I should link to some photos for those who've not seen these 'enhancements':

Before - what the F lounge buffet used to look like:


After - the new Flounge hot buffet (the famous gloop/slop):


Club lounge 'breakfast':


Salad bar:


T3 flounge breakfast (better than the club breakfast, but not very substantial):


Champagne bar (showing issues with restocking):


http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...ns-2013-a.html

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...ns-2013-a.html

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...il-2013-a.html

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...ay-2013-a.html

Last edited by layz; May 24, 13 at 5:56 am Reason: Adding a 'before' pic for comparison
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Old May 22, 13, 11:01 am
  #3  
 
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Thank you Nicci for the feedback. I don't agree with the decision to remove a continuous buffet but accept that I am a sample size of 1 and 100% disagreement in a sample size of 1 is not statistically significant.

I look forward to the improvements in the F lounge and hope that this restores the level and quality of service to the previous level.
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Old May 22, 13, 11:05 am
  #4  
 
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Originally Posted by BA Executive Club View Post
We chose to focus on a high quality afternoon tea offering between 3pm-6pm in all lounges. During this period, anyone who prefers not to take afternoon tea can choose from sandwiches, soup and the fruit and ambient snacks that are available all day.
Could someone clarify what this is in practice?
Pictures / details?

I've been in the MAN lounge in this time window since the change over, while there were nice cakes, I don't know what the offering was before to compare to. At LHR I do, but I've not been there in this time slot since the change over.

There are no plans to re-introduce a continuous buffet but we will continue to monitor your and other customer feedback on this issue.
Assuming this is a reference to the hot buffet, I think this is a horrendous mistake.

People are hungry at different times for different things. Not only personal cultural differences, but also timezone ones. People have arrived from different places, etc.

In the T5 GC I previously felt I could always get something appropriate, using the same mix of available items to make something appropriate for MY time of day. (In fact, I felt more flexible in the GC than the GF), and I certainly valued the GC buffet during the time period you mentioned 3-6pm.

I've not had a chance to be there during this window since the change, but I'm concerned. It sounds like the terrible cut backs to CE meals all over again.

Last edited by David-A; May 23, 13 at 5:35 am
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Old May 22, 13, 11:06 am
  #5  
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Dear Nicci,

Many thanks for taking it upon yourself to post a response to the extensive feedback on here.

I can only speak for Galleries Club lounges at Heathrow, so I will not comment on your details on the First lounges.

I feel that a "high quality afternoon tea" should involve:
Sandwiches (which you do provide)
Cakes (of which there were 2 provided - I would really like to see more options)
Scones, clotted cream and jam - (which were not provided)

Unfortunately, the Galleries Club "high quality afternoon tea" involves severely undersized plates, no scones, no cream, no jam, extremely limited cake selection and sandwich trays which seemed to run out.

I propose you rethink the proposition.

Think along these lines:


Tiered plates could fill the cabinets and be presented attractively. It would look really impressive.

Not this:


Finally, I feel dinner should start at 5pm not 6pm.

Thanks.
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Old May 22, 13, 11:21 am
  #6  
 
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So following on with the popularity of afternoon tea in Club Europe it has been introduced into the lounge?
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Old May 22, 13, 11:28 am
  #7  
 
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Sat in Galleries First at the moment and the offering is alright, nothing special.... Not really discernibly different to the old offering apart from the GIANT salad bowls!

Enjoyed trying to get the sloppy chilli con carne out with the slotted spoon provided though!
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Old May 22, 13, 11:29 am
  #8  
 
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Originally Posted by browserden View Post
So following on with the popularity of afternoon tea in Club Europe it has been introduced into the lounge?
If you are a CE passenger, you now can't eat in the lounge either!
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Old May 22, 13, 11:30 am
  #9  
 
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Arrow

Could I echo the thanks to Nicci for the feedback.

Whilst most of the comments are welcome, I find the decision on the buffet and menu items in the afternoon (if this means that no hot items are available in the GF lounge between 3 and 6 pm) totally absurd.

Maybe I am in a minority of one (I doubt this however), but I find CE afternoon tea a complete and utter waste of time and poor nutritional value. This is not the type of stuff that I would eat at home and is not the sole choice that I would want on a plane. Previously I have eaten very satisfactorily in the F lounges at either LHR or LGW and have refused the afternoon tea on the plane.

It seems now that BA only wishes to offer me afternoon tea in the lounge or afternoon tea on the plane. I am afraid that I have a choice that I can make and that is to fly with another airline for any times where otherwise I would be at the airport or in the air between 3 and 6 pm. If I like my new choice, I may also choose other times too.

Obviously, I do not want to shoot the messenger, but I think BA could do well to consider very carefully what its market research is actually telling it. Apparently "customers wanted something appropriate for the time of day, improved choice and variety". Offering only afternoon tea may fit the first apart of this sentence, but it fails to offer either choice or variety, improved or otherwise.

Previously, afternoon tea was offered in addition to the hot buffet and to order menu items. Those who wanted afternoon tea got their wish; those avoiding afternoon tea on their flight could do that. It seems that this is no longer the case. I would strongly urge BA to reconsider this.

Could I also ask anyone who agrees with this to make their views known to BA, perhaps via a comment in the lounge book, saying that they would welcome choices other than afternoon tea.
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Old May 22, 13, 11:36 am
  #10  
 
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Good to hear the flounge buffet is to be improved, that was always the biggest problem. However I do think the reasoning behind the afternoon tea is deeply flawed for two reasons:

1. As a major international hub flagship terminal it stands to reason that there are a large amount of transfer passengers in the lounge for whom it isn't 4pm, it's 1pm, or 8pm or some other time when they want a proper hot meal.

2. Most Brits with a normal appetite about to get on a flight leaving between 6 and 7pm are going to want to have their dinner between 5 and 6pm. Inflight catering is not reliable enough or large enough to provide a dinner when you might not be getting to your destination until late evening.

I can see where the afternoon tea idea is coming from but with only 3 choices of sandwich there is a good chance of finding there is nothing substantial that you like in order to fill up.

Last edited by RobDBA; May 22, 13 at 11:41 am
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Old May 22, 13, 11:38 am
  #11  
 
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Originally Posted by browserden View Post
So following on with the popularity of afternoon tea in Club Europe it has been introduced into the lounge?
My thoughts exactly. BA's obsession with Afternoon Tea finally hits the lounges. Great

We've largely moved our intra-Europe travel from BA to other carriers as a result of the poor on-board catering. We used to get arguments that the food in the lounge was a reasonable fall-back if time permitted. This sort of nonsense just pushes us further away.

Hope the situation improves soon.

Thanks for the feed-back.
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Old May 22, 13, 11:39 am
  #12  
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Firstly, thanks to Nicci for conveying the message and thanks to BA for responding to what's obviously turned into a bit of a storm on here.

It's good that there's obviously senior management attention on some of the simple things which I hope will be addressed relatively promptly (I don't think it's uncharitable for me to draw contrasts with CCR issues over the last couple of years).

Seeing as I'll be back to Gold again in a few days, I'd like to echo those who say that removing the buffet for the afternoon (and I believe much of the morning?) is not a good idea.

I would hazard a guess that a significant minority of your most frequent travellers would be health conscious and so would try to avoid bread in the middle of the day. For all of those, this would leave only soup for much of the day which would be a dramatic change in the role of the lounge as a place to eat. The (as yet unseen) move to fresh, seasonal ingredients is BA keeping up to date with modern trends, but that tends to go with healthy eating rather than relying on cake and sandwiches to feed some of your customers going through T5 so frequently that this becomes a major part of their diet.

I count as one of those and so for many of my flights I'll either have to plan in advance, pick up a picnic at Plane Food or try to get a flight from T3 where I can use one of the other OW lounges.
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Old May 22, 13, 11:43 am
  #13  
 
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Again, of course I don't want to shoot the messenger, but...

Originally Posted by BA Executive Club View Post
Our customer research clearly showed that customers wanted something appropriate for the time of day, improved choice and variety.
You needed research to tell you this? I'm struggling to think of anyone who wouldn't want something appropriate to the time of day, improved choice and variety.

The point is that 'appropriate to the time of day' is not the same thing to all people. If I am flying on a 6pm ET flight, I won't be landing until say 10pm CET and thus have the choice of cake/sandwiches in the lounge, biscuit (or wrap if I'm very lucky) on the plane, or eating at 11pm in a hotel.

A plate of pasta or chilli from the lounge at 5pm may not be ideal but it's far better than the above.

This doesn't mean 'four different kinds of slop' is much better, but something that can make a simple, hot, filling, healthy meal should be provided as an option, e.g. a bowl of pasta with some pesto, a little parmesan, a small bowl of salad.
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Old May 22, 13, 11:44 am
  #14  
 
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Thank you Nicci.

The decision not to run a buffet all day is bad one as far as I'm concerned. Then again if it doesn't improve I wouldn't touch it anyway.

Afternoon cakes and sandwiches (and biscuits that are already out) do nothing for me at the times you serve them. Having to option to grab something from the buffet in those hours of 3-6pm was fantastic.

Where did you get all this feedback from and how big was the sample size of this feedback? I assume FT users weren't involved anyway
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Old May 22, 13, 11:45 am
  #15  
 
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Originally Posted by EuropeanPete View Post
I would hazard a guess that a significant minority of your most frequent travellers would be health conscious and so would try to avoid bread in the middle of the day. For all of those, this would leave only soup for much of the day which would be a dramatic change in the role of the lounge as a place to eat.
... and don't forget that this will only apply to the GCs. In the F lounge soup is not put out and so won't be available in the afternoon either ...

Welcome back to the new improved F lounge
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