British Airways is being forced to despatch some flights without any food and the airline is blaming a dire shortage of security staff at its Heathrow hub for its catering woes.
The food rationing affected short-haul services throughout Europe on Monday but British Airways said passengers on impacted flights were told in plenty of time so that they could arrange self-catering for their trips.
The problem, the airline claims, isn’t down to a staff shortage at its catering department but rather a lack of Heathrow airport security staff holding up catering truck deliveries to the aircraft side.
Like most airports, catering supplies at Heathrow are prepared outside the airport secure zone and then driven ‘airside’ via a security checkpoint. The catering trucks are normally sealed and don’t need to be searched but the drivers and caterers have to be screened just like any other passenger or member of staff.
It would appear, though, that Heathrow is diverting security staff from these staff checkpoints in order to reduce the massive queues that are plaguing the airport’s passenger security screening areas.
As a result, the catering trucks are being left to idle and there’s no guarantee that food and other provisions will make it to flights in time.
A spokesperson for British Airways told us that on Monday, select flights left without catering and Business Class passengers were offered a voucher to buy something to eat at the airport.
The issue was hopefully limited to one day but Heathrow is still diverting security staff to passenger search lanes so catering mishaps could be a regular feature of the summer. Similar issues have been hampering Lufthansa’s summer operation in recent weeks.
Heathrow says it is confident that it will soon have as many security officers trained and available as it did before the pandemic.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.