The MT Diary: Howard Davies

Picnics in the sky; a Baez encounter in Washington; Disney celebrates with Hong Kong.

Am I alone in thinking (as Telegraph letter writers are wont to ask) that the British Airways in-flight catering strike was a blessing in disguise? The food you could get with your coupons, from Pret a Manger or the Caviar House, was more than adequate. And the picnic atmosphere as we all unwrapped our goodies livened up day flights no end.

On a recent Chicago trip, there was a strong secondary market in surplus culinary assets: four pieces of sushi bought you a decent slice of carrot cake; a glass of Chardonnay was worth a couple of Godiva chocs; apples and oranges traded at par - disproving the old adage. The cabin crew cowered in their galleys, with only glasses of warm water to barter - and found few takers, oddly enough.

Some discount airlines run like this all the time, though not across the Atlantic. Maybe the Civil Aviation Authority should follow the FSA's example with stockbrokers and require unbundling of the services offered, so passengers (or customers, in BA jargon) could choose a catered seat or a picnic seat, and pay accordingly.

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