British Airways was one of the first airlines to introduce a premium economy service. While they were innovative at the time, their product now seems a bit outdated in comparison to newer offerings. Still, it offers a slightly better level of service than economy and more space, and is useful for passengers traveling with lots of luggage, who like priority check-in, or who really like their legroom.
What to know about British Airways premium economy
British Airways premium economy service, which the airline calls World Traveller Plus, is available on most long-haul routes. It offers larger seats with a deeper recline than economy, upgraded meals and extra baggage, among other benefits.
How British Airways premium economy compares to regular economy
The main difference is the significantly expanded legroom and recline, as well as priority check-in and double baggage allowance. Meals are served on real dishware, and there are more main entree options. Guests receive sparkling wine after takeoff and can order snacks and beverages anytime throughout the flight, unlike in economy. Entertainment options are the same.
How British Airways premium economy compares to business class
Business class is a big step up from premium economy on British Airways. Business class is more private, to start. The cabin is separated from economy and premium economy, while premium economy blends into economy with only a simple (not noise canceling) curtain. Business class passengers also have privacy screens.
Seats in business class lie flat and come with a mattress and extra bedding, while in premium economy you’ll receive the same pillow and blanket as in economy. The meals are the same, though business class passengers are offered beverages before takeoff. Business class passengers have lounge access, which priority economy passengers do not. They also receive more luggage allowance and earlier boarding.
Examples of previous deals Going has found on British Airways
- $1,007 roundtrip to Mallorca in premium economy
- $1,182 roundtrip to Sicily in premium economy
- $904 roundtrip to Barcelona in premium economy
- $2,254 roundtrip to Edinburgh in business class
The British Airways premium economy experience at the airport
British Airways premium economy lounge access
Lounge access is not included in premium economy tickets.
British Airways premium economy check-in
Premium economy passengers will find dedicated check-in desks in London airports. At other airports, they may use the same check-in line as economy passengers.
Two checked backs up to 23kg/51lbs each are allowed free of charge, along with a cabin bag up to 23kg/51lbs and a handbag. A third and fourth checked bag cost £155.00 each. Those traveling with an infant can check two additional items for free, such as a stroller or carseat.
The British Airways premium economy experience in the air
British Airways premium economy seats
British Airways flied the A350, A380, 777, and 787 on its longhaul routes. The premium economy seats are the same and configured in the same way across all aircraft. The difference is in how many premium economy seats are on each aircraft, and in which rows they are found.
- A350: Each aircraft has 56 World Traveller Plus seats, laid out in a 2-4-2 configuration (AB-DEFG-JK) from rows 20-27. They have a width of 18.5 inches, the same as business class, and recline 38 inches. There are also 38 inches of legroom and a footrest, as well as moveable armrests. Seats have moveable headrest wings and are the same plush cloth as economy seats.
- A380: Seats are the same as on the A350, but in rows 60-68.
- 777: Seats are the same as on the A350, but there are fewer of them.
- 787: Seats are the same as on the A350, but there are fewer of them.
Benefits of flying in premium economy on British Airways
The main benefit of premium economy is the extra space. You get seven more inches of legroom than in economy, though seats are only one inch wider. Premium economy passengers also receive priority boarding and double the economy baggage allowance. While all flight classes receive two meals, those served in premium economy come with more options and are served on real dishware. Passengers also receive a slightly upgraded amenity kit, including a bag made using material from recycled plastic bottles, an eye mask, pen, socks, toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, earplugs, and noise canceling headphones.
Meals in premium economy on British Airways
Two three-course meals are served on porcelain dishes. Customers can choose from the same selection of main entrees as business class passengers. Passengers can also order snacks and drinks anytime during the flight.
Guests receive a glass of sparkling wine after takeoff. Throughout the flight, complimentary alcohol, including beer, wine and mixed drinks are available. British Airways offers a signature cocktail as well for premium economy and business class travelers.
How to book British Airways premium economy
How much does it cost for a premium economy ticket on British Airways?
While costs vary depending on the time of year and day of the week, a flight between London and New York is about $1,500-$2,000. Going frequently finds fares under $1,200 roundtrip.
How to upgrade to premium economy of British Airways for free
Like with most airlines, loyalty members with status will have the easiest time upgrading for free. If you are a member of British Airways’ Avios program you can add yourself to the upgrade list and hope you make it. You can also volunteer to take the next flight if your original flight is overbooked, and negotiate for a premium economy seat on the new flight.
How much does it cost to upgrade to premium economy on British Airways?
You can upgrade to premium economy for the fare difference between your regular economy seat and the premium economy price. This varies widely depending on the route, but can be hundreds of pounds. Some passengers have reported lower fares when they ask to upgrade and pay cash at the check-in desk, rather than paying the listed price online ahead of time.
How many miles to upgrade to British Airways premium economy?
Those flying on a non-refundable economy fare can not upgrade, but those flying on a flexible or low fare ticket can. If you do have a flexible ticket (only about 10% of economy tickets), you will be charged the difference in miles between an economy and premium economy seat. There is no set number, as it varies depending on the route and time of year, but is typically around 20,000, plus a £100-£200 fee. You can upgrade online ahead of your flight.
If you crave extra legroom or really can’t sleep without a bit more of a recline, British Airways' premium economy is a good option. That said, World Traveller Plus is often significantly more expensive than regular economy, with few major differences. Check flight prices and if World Traveller Plus is 20% more expensive or less (prices vary greatly depending on the time of year and route), it’s probably worth it. Otherwise, you’re better off saving your money in economy or trying to upgrade to business class.