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.
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.
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.
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?