British Airways introduced an entirely new concept in World Traveller at the end of 1998. One of the strangest elements were the double deck meal trays for economy class passengers, which have to be seen to be believed.

All of this was under the banner of Project Utopia, which introduced the world tails livery at the same time. Seems like it wasn’t just the aircraft colours that were quickly rejected and changed.

Whatever Next?

The video is rather amusingly called “Whatever next?” and is to introduce the changes to cabin crew. Looking at it through the lens of 2023, I wonder what will come next when ideas like this were able to gain traction. As it’s from the late 1990s, the commercial Internet was still developing, hence why telephone check-in is mentioned as a thing, which I had no idea about.

Happily the end shows the brand new ergonomically designed slimline seat, which I have flown and found very comfortable. All passengers were getting their own seat back screens and when you see them it brings back memories of just how small they were. Still, considering that beforehand you had one big screen for an entire cabin, it was a major step up.

Double Deck Trays

Perhaps the most astonishing new element of the service are the double deck meal trays they were planning to use in economy class. How anyone thought this was a good idea is beyond me. While I applaud the reusable dish for the hot main element, the rest is rather strange.

Unfortunately, the crew in the video come across as insincere when talking about the new trays, which hardly inspires confidence. Totally bizarre! It gets worse with the snack bar on shelves, especially when they mention they are developing a net to stop the food falling off in turbulence.

Overall Thoughts

I’m all for innovation and new ideas, but the double deck meal trays really are the strangest idea. I can’t see how that enhanced the service or provided a better experience for passengers.

Having a look at the comments, it seems they only lasted half a year or so before they were withdrawn. Looks like both the passengers and crew hated them. Still fun to see some ideas from the past where an airline was actively trying to enhance the economy class experience.

Did you ever fly on British Airways when these double deck trays were in service? What were they like? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by A J Best on