Review of British Airways Premium Economy Cabin – World Traveller Plus

flying over sydney

For our journey back from Vegas I paid extra to fly in the British Airways premium economy cabin for the first time – I knew I would be needing some sleep and was intrigued to see what perks it offered in comparison to the economy flight out.

For those not interested in detailed reviews let me tell you in one sentence if it is worth paying to upgrade to World Traveller Plus – it depends on the aircraft.

At the time of purchasing my flights to Vegas the BA site flashed up an image of a chic, ergonomic-looking new premium economy seat that it said could be all mine for just £150 extra. I caved in and coughed up so that I could see what it was like. I’d had a great experience in the premium economy cabin on Cathay Pacific and hoped BA would be the same.

BA World Traveller Plus

The World Traveller Plus Cabin

Unfortunately the cabin I was met with on my flight was nothing like the one in the picture that had sold it to me. Our aircraft didn’t have the new cabin installed (perhaps it said this somewhere in the small print of the website but it evaded me if so).

My seat was in a separate, more private-feeling, section of the plane though, there were only 4 rows in the left hand aisle I was sitting in, and it had what felt like significantly more legroom than my economy seat on the way out. The seat was wider, pillow plumper and the footrest could be adjusted to just the right place for my little legs.

BA World Traveller Plus

BA World Traveller Plus

BA World Traveller Plus

Cosy cushion and decent legroom in World Traveller Plus

The amenities kit was nowhere near as impressive as Cathay’s. The plastic wallet contained some very drab looking socks and eye mask and the noise-cancelling headphones were old and scratched. I never got to test out if they were any good though because sadly, in Premium Economy, the inflight entertainment did not work – for the full 10 hours of the flight. There was a system error in our part of the plane and, frustratingly me for, this even affected the reading lights. I tried to write some notes by the light of my phone (as the cabin lights were dimmed) but my phone battery ran out and there was nowhere in the cabin to recharge it. (Etihad economy seats, in contrast, come with power sockets and Wi-Fi!) The screen was the same small square with a visible grid pattern that I’d had in economy on the way out (that one had been working though).

BA World Traveller Plus

 Looking at a blank screen for 10 hours – had no idea when we would land

BA World Traveller Plus

Unlike in economy, you receive a menu in premium economy, which tells you what you are about to eat and so it removes a lot of the guesswork. You also receive some pretzels with the first round of drinks, which is something I have noticed BA have scrapped in economy on routes I have recently travelled, including to the US and Caribbean. It transpired that the pork dish I ordered was the same as the one on offer in Club World (where my lucky partner was travelling – he had a choice of 4 meals and we had a choice of 2) except his was better presented – served on a plate and sauce poured on top instead of left in a foil dish. The salad was bland and dessert a bit squashed but the most annoying thing was having to eat it the gloom.

BA World Traveller Plus

Was hard to see what I was eating in the dimly lit cabin

Breakfast was also disappointing. Although it was a 10-hour flight we were simply served a cold croissant in the morning with some ‘craisons’ (dried cranberries anyone?!)  In Club they were offered something warm as well as fresh fruit smoothies. Breakfast was marginally better than the coronation chicken sandwich we had been served as a second meal in economy on the way out though (the hostess had miserably handed them out with the words ‘It’s just a sandwich – you want it?’) As a point of comparison my economy flight with Sri Lanka Airways a few days prior had come with two hot meals and a selection of up to 4 meals to choose from each time. We also received a menu so we knew what would be coming. (I still have no idea what was in the starter I ate on my flight out to Vegas with BA.)

BA World Traveller Plus

Cold croissant in a box for breakfast

Having nothing better to do, and the extra legroom to do it in, I slept well on my flight home from Vegas. Because I nabbed the special offer upgrade price of £150 I am happy with my decision – when travelling on my own I would happily pay that price not to be so squished next to a stranger. In comparison to Cathay Pacific, however, BA have a lot of improvement to do with their amenities and food in order to match their premium economy offering. I’d also be keen to try out those sleek-looking new seats I saw on the website when booking. Better luck next time maybe..

Have you flown in a premium economy cabin with BA or otherwise? What did you think?

*With regards to the faulty in-flight entertainment passengers were invited to fill out customer complaint forms on the plane and within 10 days I received an email apology and 10,000 Avios from BA to compensate.

36 Comments

  • Interesting to read this as I travel a lot with BA and have been thinking about upgrading on long-haul – I did my first short haul business class flight and have definitely got the taste for it, especially as sometimes the price is not much different. Might give premium economy a try at the right price but won’t be rushing into it (unless it’s in one of those swanky new planes!)

  • Hi Jayne,
    Interesting post. I always like to hear about the flights – so that a person can judge the worth of an upgrade and query what they are getting if they do not seem to receive what has been shown in the brochure. 10 hours without a movie -that would be a killer for me!

  • Monica says:

    Yikes, you don’t get a lot for £150 do you. I’ve only flown with BA twice; once in Europe and once to New York. The Europe flight was brilliant, I couldn’t fault it. But the NYC flight was awful both ways.

    In a way, I feel like I’m really lucky because I have super short legs so I never feel too uncomfortable in economy (except Vueling, their seats are tiny!) but I do feel sorry for people with really long legs on long-haul flights.

    • Jayne says:

      Me too! I think with BA the main benefit of upgrading to World Traveller Plus is for the legroom. With other airlines, like Cathay for example, it feels like you also get a premium product and service with the PE cabin so it’s worth digging into the different airlines a bit. I’m glad I didn’t pay more than £150 extra for this service!

  • Colin A-B says:

    Really interesting to read this – I presume you were on a 747 and not a 777, going by the seats & the look of the overhead lockers.
    I recently (in the last fortnight) travelled on a 747 to & from Vancouver with BA. It was a package holiday & had chosen to upgrade to WTP from Traveller for the inbound flight too – we were charged £175 by the tourop, so for a similar length flight it looks like you got a good/fair price.

    Having seen WTP on their other aircraft I can assure you it’s definitely a lot better hard product on the newer aircraft, so maybe just try to avoid flying their 747 until their retirement – whether it’s Traveller or WTP you opt for!

    I was very interested to see that you were compensated 10K Avios for the IFE being broken. I ended up upgrading again to Club for our inbound flight. Amongst a few other issues which caused concern was the fact the cabin lights could not be switched off, or even dimmed at all. Likewise the crew were apologetic & came around with comments cards – I used the feedback option on the BA site as thought it would be more straightforward & within a week was offered 6K Avios as compensation for being kept awake all night.
    To be honest I was expecting more, if only because last year they gave me 15K when a special meal I’d ordered wasn’t on my flight.
    It really does seem like they pluck arbitrary figures out the air when it comes to compensation!

    • Jayne says:

      Ha that is so interesting. I will definitely pay more attention to what aircraft I am flying on next time and hopefully will get to see the newer aircraft. I also found the approach to compensation interesting, I thought they might offer to refund my upgrade fee seen as I had paid more to end up in a faulty cabin but wasn’t given that option.

    • Ian O'Flynn says:

      Even the Boeing 777 haven’t all been upgraded yet.
      The old style premium economy in BA really isn’t worth the extra money when comparing it to what other airlines offer. I’ve done it twice, both times from the menu you might be left with poor selection from whatever people in Club didn’t choose and we didn’t get our first choice.
      If travelling 747 or 777 you could be better off paying £55 extra for an exit seat in economy, you can place your hand luggage case in front of you and it serves as a much better footrest than premium economy. Also, in economy you might be lucky to find an empty row and you can stretch out. This won’t work in premium economy as the handrests are fixed.
      Having said, hoping to see what their redesigned premium economy class is like.

  • Sorry to hear that you had a bad experience. A year or two ago my sister and I got a free upgrade into premium economy because of screaming children in the row behind us. I’m not sure if it was because we weren’t expecting to be in premium economy, but we really enjoyed it. We’re both tall so the extra legroom and spacious seats were definitely appreciated. I can’t remember what the food was like. It doesn’t look or sound particularly great from what you mentioned.

    At least they’ve compensated you with some points. I hope you get to use them on a lovely new adventure.

    • Jayne says:

      Aw thank you so much! I totally agree the extra leg room can make all the difference, especially for those with longer legs than me! We’re saving our points up for something special so this will definitely help in that respect 🙂

  • Carsla says:

    Thanks for the honest review! I can’t wait to travel out of the country! ;D

    <3 Carsla
    Founder & CEO of Connect-the-Cloths
    http://www.connect-the-cloths.com
    http://blogspotter.co/connect-the-cloths/
    A stylist, foodie, & writer's blog in development.

  • Emmi says:

    I love your blog.. But it makes me miss travelling too much 😉 http://finestprocrastination.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Julie says:

    I am considering booking WTP for a flight to LA mainly for the extra space however the return price is almost double that of economy and from what Ive read on here Im not sure its daylight robbery

    • Jayne Gorman says:

      I personally wouldn’t pay double the price but if there is an offer at check in for £150 upgrade the extra legroom does make the flight much more comfortable!

  • paul says:

    We are due to fly from LHR TO JFK on monday, we upgraded to WTP and going by these comments I am dreading it, I think there is nothing worse when flying lingual that horrible uncomfy seats. We have never flown BA before only virgin and thomson. We recently flew to orlando on the new thomson dream liner in premium. I have to say everything about that flight was excellent.

  • Charles Nunn says:

    Having daughters in America I fly frequently across the Atlantic.
    I have tried several different Premium Class flights Virgin, British Airways, Delta (dreadful).

    My last flight to LAX was with Air New Zealand which I rate the best of the lot.
    Superb, modern cabins with a new configuration, great food and lovely staff.
    Slightly dearer than the others but well worth the money.

    • Jayne Gorman says:

      I read a review of the AirNZ Space Seat recently and it looks awesome. Might save some air miles to try that one next time!

  • Julie Peachey says:

    It was interesting to hear your comments about your WTP experiences.
    I have just booked flights with BA (this is the first time we have flown with them) to Orlando from Gatwick. We usually fly premium economy but this time after studying BAs website re WTP, decided to fork out to upgrade. For the 6 of us this has been quite a significant addition to the cost.
    I do hope that it won’t be something that I regret. Since booking I have read feedback on various forums and I’m amazed at how varied the WTP package is. Surely it should be generic if you are paying for this service?

    • Jayne Gorman says:

      It would be lovely to say the product was consistent across different routes but this sadly hasn’t been my experience. The type of aircraft and age of the cabin makes a fair difference – my partner always looks into what type of aircraft is flying a route before booking any flights. I have also had some bad luck with broken entertainment systems and lack of meal choice, which doesn’t happen to everyone! I am sure you will have a great trip and hope you enjoy the flight. J

  • Ray Falkenberg says:

    Thanks for the great review. I have the choice of flying to Madrid through Dallas on American or through London on BA. The BA 747 on the PHX-LHR segment is the old-style WT+ and it would cost $500 extra r/t. I can get Main Cabin Extra on AA for only $130 r/t. If the BA plane had the new interior, I’d spring for the extra dough, but not for the old seats. BTW, I have also flown Cathay Pacific Premium Economy and found it to be well worth the extra $700 r/t for the long LAX-HKG route.

    • Jayne Gorman says:

      Gosh it is much better value to upgrade on AA in this instance – like you I think $500 for WTP on the old style product is overpriced. I have also flown PE with Cathay from LHR to HKG and it was a fantastic product in terms of leg room, price and service. I was expecting the same with BA but it was nothing like it!

      • Ian O'Flynn says:

        BA mentioned to me that if you write to them 2 days before the flight they can tell you whether the plane will have a new style interior or not, as they will know the registration by then. Whether the upgrade offer is still available 2 days before the flight is another question!
        If you don’t get a response from their email you can try their account on Twitter.

  • Mabel says:

    I just forked out a bit for this as well. I hope it’s worth it. Legroom and a little more elbow room have to be better than Delta/KLM’s premium economy. Theirs was not worth even a low-priced upgrade and I got no sleep on the red-eye. It will be my first time with BA too, so I’m looking forward to it. It’s supposed to be a 777–here’s hoping all will be functional.
    I kind of wanted to pay for the PE ticket, in case there was a shot at an upgrade. You never know.

  • Paul Francolini says:

    I read your review of PE on BA with interest. I am flying PE from Los Angeles to LH in a few days for the first time on BA. I noted that none of the comments by others mentioned PE on the Airbus A-380. Hopefully, by now, the issues of food and IFE have been addressed or at least these issues won’t be an issue on the A-380. Have you had any comments about the overall PE experience on the A-380?

    Thank you for your review and candor.

    • Jayne Gorman says:

      Hi Paul, I haven’t heard any feedback re PE on the A380 specifically but have flown economy on the A380 and found that roomy and comfortable in comparison to older aircrafts. Have a pleasant journey and let us know how you get on!

      • Ali P says:

        In answer to your question re the 380’s – they are all fitted with the new cabin layout. I recently travelled from LHR to Washington DC in their WT+ and the seat was great, as was the entertainment system. On the way back however it was a 747 with the old WT+. I have written to BA saying how bad it was. The seat was so tight (I’m 6’2″ and of a heavy build) that I broke the plug off my headphones when I sat down as there was barely enough room in those old seats. I was in the front row so had lots of legroom, but if I had been in a middle aisle then it really wouldn’t have been worth the extra paid. May be better taking your chance in Economy and hoping for a free seat next to you.

        • Jayne Gorman says:

          This is great insight Alistair – thanks. It seems it really pays to look up what aircraft flies on the route before paying more for WT+. How disappointing to have the new cabin on the way out and old one on the way back though. Hopefully all aircraft will be updated in time. I’m interested to see what Singapore Airlines Premium Economy product is like when they launch it later this year.

  • Curtis says:

    I flew back from Orlando with BA on Saturday 1st August. Like you I was enticed by the snazzy pictures and paid £200 to upgrade to WT+ as a treat to myself as I was travelling alone.

    The boarding was a shambles. WT+ travelers were not called and I ended up boarding with Economy passengers.

    Upon arriving to my seating section I was extremely disappointed to come across old, tired seating. On the plus side I was sitting in the front row so had extra leg room on top of the PE seat leg space. Entertainment screen quality was terrible. I opted for the steak which was tasty, but everything else with the meal was plain.

    My whole BA experience has put me off traveling with them unless the price is cheap, I am a frequent Virgin flyer and their planes feel and look so much fresher.

    The main WT+ positives are the leg space especially if at the front, and the extra bag allowance. Everything else is of economy standard and not worth paying more than £100

    • Jayne Gorman says:

      I had a very similar experience to you and completely agree. If you get a good deal the extra leg room is worth the money but in my experience the BA PE comes nowhere near that of Cathay for example, who really make you feel like a Premium passenger.

  • Elaine says:

    Not happy with BAs customer service, I received an email asking if I would like to upgrade to world traveler plus for £184, why not! You were given a choice to upgrade both outgoing and incoming, in coming was far to expensive as it was club class at £3,000 odd, so tried to up grade outgoing with no luck, got an error message each time, I would only let me do it if I upgraded both ways, what a cheat! So I phoned BA, I was told the error message was because they have sold out the seats in that class, ok then I’m out of luck, I decided later to pay for a seat that I wanted and found the price for the upgrade had gone down to £161, no seats left, so how come the price had gone down? Phoned BA again, no fobbed of again with sorry as it’s an online offer they couldn’t do it on the phone, the price went down again to £131, this time I asked for a manager to phone me back, have I received one?!?! No! I managed to get an upgrade at the checkin for £200 , seat was nice and had a good sleep, not the same seat as the picture, but had a foot rest and real cutlery, I would upgrade again,

    • Jayne Gorman says:

      Phew, sounds like you had a bit of back and forwards but so glad you got the upgrade at a good price at the check in counter. I never thought to ask on the day so this is a good thing to know. Hope you enjoyed your trip. J

  • Jean Richmond says:

    We always travel economy and for a wee treat I thought going WT plus. After reading your blog and other reviews, I think we’ll stick with economy. I wouldn’t in the least mind paying £900 over the return ticket price if I thought we would have a much nicer flight. Thank you Jayne.

    • Jayne Gorman says:

      Hi Jean, depending on where you are heading I highly recommend Cathay Pacifics premium economy cabin – if they fly where you’re heading that is a nice treat worth paying extra for 🙂

  • Patricia Girvan says:

    My flight was delayed so they put me on the next one leaving in 45mins that was great I paid to upgrade £250 what did I get ? Never got aisle seat as requested ,when meal came
    I don’t like chicken What did they offer me NOTHING ,all the way from JFK to LONDON . As for the breakfast in morning, granola bar and a very cold croissant.I have been in touch with BA BEEN OFFERED £25 voucher which I told them was no good to me as this was my last flight They have told me I’m not entitled to anything more as meal is complimentary

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