British Airways got it right with the Premium Economy

Earlier this year, I sent some of my Europe travel business to British Airways because of the convenient timings I had for travel to Europe (twice daily) rather than once daily. It involved backtracking as well, and the pains of getting a visa, but that added so much flexibility to my travel plans as well, because I could spend another night at home rather than having to necessarily take a midnight flight out of India all the time to go to continental Europe.

One of my earlier trips this year, British Airways bumped me up from Economy to Premium Economy, due to the Economy cabin being overbooked. And that was the first time I really started to appreciate the Premium Economy cabin service that BA has been offering for a while.

I think BA has done some of the right things that make this product click for me. First and foremost, they have a 2-4-2 configuration on all planes in the premium economy section, which is a larger seat pitch as compared to the economy 3-3-3 layout. There is over 6” extra seat pitch around here.

On a 9 hour flight, that extra leg room is almost always worth it, considering you can recline your seat without worrying about poking into someone else’s face. No fight for armrests as well, everyone gets their own, apart from enough space to put a drink there without having to open your tray table.

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The premium in premium economy, of course, does not just come from a bigger seat. BA has worked on making added benefits for travelling World Traveller Plus, as they call their premium economy section. These include:

  • a business class meal (complete with a menu card and a bread basket)
  • a bigger in-screen display, which comes along with noise reducing headsets
  • a higher baggage allowance

Considering Premium Economy comes in front of the Economy cabin and is a small cabin of its own, while it is served by the same cabin crew which works the economy cabin, you get your meals first, and get to disembark the plane right after the Business class passengers get out. Additionally, there are small touches which matter, such as a napkin service and a welcome drink.

The food is a hit and miss, and over the year I’ve tried a lot of the business class meals, and some are too bland for me while others don’t turn out as they sound on the menu. However, this weekend on my way out, I got a nice Dal and Paneer when I tried out the vegetarian option on the flight.

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And while I was not working on the flight, I was watching movies. BA does have a very good collection of movies, though I guess, as a global airline with a special focus on India, they could do more in terms of Indian programming on the plane. In this case, the bigger screen did come handy. Be mindful, some of the older planes such as the 772s and some 747s still have the old product where the screens are smaller.

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All in all, a nice product for long haul flying if you don’t want to spend money on a lie-flat seat to go places. I’ve noticed that the price difference is not high, and sometimes it is even as much as 4-5K over the economy cabin. (Do note I book my tickets last minute, so your mileage may vary). But also, World Traveller Plus gets much higher mileage (25% cabin bonus on BA’s Executive Club program, 10% extra on AAdvantage amongst others), and higher tier points on BA.

Overall, for the price sensitive travellers, this may be a nice option to look at when you’re looking to travel long distance from India. For me, it is a life saver.

What are your experiences with the British Airways World Traveller Plus service?

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About Ajay Awtaney

Ajay is a financial services pro, working to bring order to the chaos of the financial industry on an everyday basis! Beyond that, he dons the hat of India's favourite frequent traveller, trying to help people elevate their travel experience via tips and tricks they never knew before, or introduce them to the world of miles and points. Armed with an MBA from MDI Gurgaon and graduate degree in computer science from the University of Delhi, Ajay brings a systematic and objective approach on the table for his audience in dissecting travel and loyalty programs in India and around the world, and how to benefit from them. Ajay has been quoted in various reputed traditional and online media including The Hindustan Times, Inside Flyer, Bloomberg, DNA India, Conde Nast Traveller, The Telegraph, Mumbai Mirror, Mint, MoneyLife and The USA Today.

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Comments

  1. My comparison was about on the ground and onboard experience. VS miles can be used on many of their airline partners including Delta being their newest earn and burn partner. VS strongly gets my vote in regards to the product they offer. Where as BA is constantly downgrading services latest being same Y class seats in ClubEurope and removal of ClubKitchen from ClubWorld cabin on the late evening departures. Not name dropping here but I hold elite status from both the carriers for many years now and have a fairly good understanding of products, mileage and alliances.
    Keep writing and Happy Travels!

    • @TheFlyingSikh and point taken. Of course I was saying BA does a good job with Premium Economy over Economy in my post, in my opinion and not comparing it with VS which is a product I haven’t tried as yet.

  2. Ajay, I’ll be doing a BLR to PHL return through BA later this week. I haven’t opened my score on one world yet. Where do you suggest I transfer the airmiles to .

    • @Kapil I personally love American Airlines AAdvantage, but if you wan’t to use a program with links to India, Ba may be a good idea.

      • I’ll be doing a bit of travel to and within US going forward. Which is the fastest way to get elite status on One World. i am counting on AI SBI platinum to get me Star Alliance gold in next few months. Haven’t read any great things about BA loyalty programs.

        • @Kapil depends on the level of status you want. for instance if you want to get emerald tier, the barriers will be very high, but to just get ruby tier only about 25000 miles flown could do.

  3. Value for Money (outright purchase): Not quite. J can be had for a little more and/or if you have the BA miles, you should end up upgrading into J for 12.5K one way.

    Value for Money with cash upgrade special offer price from Y: Yep (as long as you do not get older Y+). Brucie bonus of 90 Tier points and 5500 miles.

    The wife and I were lucky enough to get quoted an upgrade price of £150 from Y to Y+ on a new B77W. On top of that, we managed to snag exit row seats. Excellent leg room with comfortable seats for a day time flight. Brand new IFE worked a treat and I arrived in London after a comfortable flight involving several alcoholic drinks, lunch and 3 movies. Please note that my flights to India are always for leisure purposes so the in flight experience is part of the holiday as well.

    • @Dev yes I missed the upgrading to J bit, but that is a big benefits yes. I do find it value for money because most times on a last minute trip, Y+ and Y won’t be much different

  4. Nice review. But in my opinion Virgin Atlantic offer a much nicer Premium Economy experience in comparison to BA WTP. VS offer dedicated Check inn, Priority boarding, Pre take-off bubbly, Meals on full chinaware, After meals Liqueur service (Amarula/Brandy), mid flight ice cream, 3pc checked in baggage allowance for journeys to and fro India etc. Make VS a clear winner over BA.

    • @Theflyiongsikh, however, VS does not have the network and VS miles can only be used on VS, while BA is oneworld, and far bigger network to choose from.

  5. Check the price, i dont think it offers a good value for the money.with a bit of work, you can get business with a slightly higher price, which gives a lot more comfort and value

  6. You forgot the best part: miles upgrade to business class for a very cheap price. From london to rio de janeiro i think ive used like 20000 miles to upgrade

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