Any illusions that economy air travel is any way exotic or glamorous is instantly shattered by the question "Chicken or Beef?". (That is, if you needed a reminder after contorting your limbs into a shape resembling a pretzel). But, if British Airways has its way, that query could soon be replaced by "prawn mayo or BLT" - if its reported deal with M&S to supply airline meals goes ahead.
By charging for food, BA would cross one of those remaining lines which distinguishes it from its budget rivals - and caused an outcry. Anyone who's been forced to fork out over a tenner on other airlines for a few basic snacks will sympathise.
So why do it? Last year, BA spent over 1 billion pounds on "operating costs" . Ok, that covered everything from crews' hotel costs to champagne in First Class (no mention of them switching to Lucozade yet) but the airline carries in excess of 40 million passengers a year. Shave even a couple of pound off that per passenger, and the savings for the airline soon mount up.
And its more than cost saving: even with having to fork out for those M&S ready meals, BA now has an additional revenue stream, not to mention being able to offer lower headline fares. An obvious move for an airline under pressure to maintain profits
What are passengers losing out on? On a recent red-eye back from the US, the meal wasn't worth staying awake for - unless you're into fifty shades of beige. A neighbour's gluten-free tray would've been better marked "fun-free". Nor was there anything fun about the "fun-sized" choloate bar which replaced a second meal. Enough to push you to BYO - or even EBYB (eat before you board- less catchy but also less messy).
The slicing of yet another "amenity" may be enough to have you weeping into your (thankfully, still free) G'nT. But ultimately, it may not just be BA's profits but our tastebuds that benefit.