The British Airways premium economy class service known as BA World Traveller Plus provides more space and comfort than the regular economy class service. But is it worth the extra money? Let’s take a closer look. You’ll see that, on balance, I would still pay for this service even though it has declined.
I’m rarely a business air traveller so most of my flights are holiday flights. These are short haul into Europe or long haul to the Caribbean. As I don’t fly often enough, and with the impact of travel restrictions during the pandemic of 2020/2021, my formerly Silver BA Executive Club membership has been downgraded to Bronze due to the fact that I haven’t collected enough tier points.
In another post, I’ve compared BA to Virgin but in this one, I’m going to explain how things have declined in BA’s premium economy service. These impressions are based on the experience of flying from London Heathrow to Barbados and back. Other flights, particularly the longer flights to South Africa, Asia, or the west coast of America may be different.
What do you get with BA World Traveller Plus?
The BA website tells us that upgrading to World Traveller Plus is “exciting”. Well, perhaps I’m a little jaded but my recent experiences have left me thoroughly underwhelmed.
The Premium Economy cabin is in front of Economy and behind Business Class. You certainly do get a wider seat, greater seat pitch, a foot rest, and extra leg room. There’s a cushion for that all important lumbar support on a long flight, and blanket for the night flight home.
There is a greater baggage allowance and priority boarding for World Traveller Plus, after First, Business, and families with young children and those who require extra support.
The BA website tells you that you can expect two “delicious” meals. This was not the case in my experience. There is a complimentary bar service though you may have a wait a while to get served.
The noise reducing headphones supplied with each seat are an improvement from those of a few years ago. This is probably the only thing that has improved in a British Airways Premium Economy seat. I used to fly with a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones but I won’t bother to take them any more if I’m flying BA World Traveller Plus.
The entertainment system is good. It contains a wide selection of the latest films, TV, music, audio books, and games, so there’s enough there to keep most people occupied for most flights.
You’re also supposed to receive an amenity kit but I don’t recall seeing any, and there were no separate toilets for World Traveller Plus passengers on our flight aboard a Boeing 777. The only option were those behind the curtain separating Economy from Premium Economy.
London Heathrow LHR to New York JFK
What did you use to get with BA World Traveller Plus?
If my memory serves me correctly then these things have been withdrawn:
- No glass of sparkling wine is offered after boarding and before take off
- No cheese and biscuits are offered with the main meal
- No extra drink offered after the main meal
- No brandy or cream liqueur is offered after the main meal
- No additional sweets or ice creams
- Sub-standard low-quality second meal (afternoon tea on the way out, breakfast on the way back)
Understandably, British Airways has had to find ways to save money after the impact of travel restrictions during the Covid pandemic. Across an airline, these cost-cutting measures would make a huge difference, but for the passengers paying higher prices each year the downgrade in terms of perks is very noticeable and weakens their loyalty to the airline.
British Airways Cabin Crew
It can’t be easy, being a flight attendant. Long hours, low pay, stress, jet lag, the threat of redundancy in a volatile industry, and all for looking after what are sometimes obnoxious and often demanding passengers.
On the other hand, without the passengers there would be no job. We rely on each other, and the fact is that, from a passenger’s point of view, a smiling and cheerful flight attendant can make a big impact on the flight experience, and therefore on the prospects of repeat custom. A surly and unfriendly face in the uniform can do the exact opposite.
I’ve experienced both demeanors while travelling with British Airways. I’ve seen courteous, professional, and cheerful flight attendants doing their utmost make the journey enjoyable. On the other hand I’ve seen crew with faces that would turn milk sour. Everyone has their bad days but it gets to the point at which you dislike the passengers and don’t look forward to work anymore then you’re in the wrong job.
BA World Traveller Plus with a baby
Passengers travelling with infants are allocated the first row of seats in the World Traveller Plus cabin. This is behind the bulkhead separating the cabin from the Business Class cabin. The seats have a pull-down table in front of them onto which the infant’s cot can be strapped. For those not wanting to sit near any parents with their babies, the best seats are those a few rows back, but not in the back row of the small cabin.
What is BA World Traveller Plus?
British Airways World Traveller Plus is the premium economy class cabin offered by British Airways. It is a step up from the standard economy class and provides passengers with additional benefits and features designed to enhance their flying experience.
Passengers travelling in British Airways World Traveller Plus enjoy wider seats with more legroom and additional recline, providing greater comfort and relaxation. The cabin is generally located closer to the front of the aircraft than standard economy, allowing for faster boarding and disembarkation.
World Traveller Plus passengers also receive a range of other benefits, including priority check-in and boarding, increased baggage allowance, noise-cancelling headphones, and an upgraded dining experience with a choice of complimentary meals, drinks, and snacks.
Does BA World Traveller Plus get lounge access?
No, there is no free lounge access with a World Traveller Plus ticket. You’ll need to be a BA Executive Club Silver cardholder or higher.
Does BA World Traveller Plus get priority check-in?
There is a separate desk for World Traveller Plus but I’ve rarely found it to make any significant difference. If you’ve already checked in online and printed your boarding pass then there’s little more to do than have these checked and drop your bags.
How does BA World Traveller Plus compare with VA Premium Economy?
In terms of seat comfort and space, both cabins offer wider seats with extra legroom and increased recline compared to standard economy. However, Virgin Atlantic’s Premium Economy cabin generally provides a bit more legroom and seat width than British Airways World Traveller Plus.
Both airlines offer similar benefits such as priority check-in, boarding and baggage handling, upgraded dining options, amenity kits, and in-flight entertainment systems.
One of the main differences between the two cabins is the type of seat that is offered. British Airways World Traveller Plus features a fixed shell seat, which provides a high level of privacy and comfort, while Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy features a recliner seat with a footrest. The recliner seat is a good option for passengers who want to stretch out and relax, while the fixed shell seat is ideal for those who want more privacy and a more business-class like experience.
How much extra is World Traveller Plus?
Ticket prices vary greatly according to demand, day of the week, time of day, and seasonal holidays. The three snapshots shown below for ticket prices for flights from Heathrow to New York in the Spring of 2023 illustrate these variations.
They also show how there is no fixed percentage for the upgrade from Economy to Premium Economy. So the answer to the question, “How much extra is World Traveller Plus?” is “It depends when you fly. You can pay a small percentage higher than the Economy ticket but it could also be nearly double.”
You can also upgrade to a British Airways World Traveller Plus seat using your Avios points. This particularly useful for the solo traveller who might be flexible about the date of travel.
Is BA World Traveller Plus worth it?
On balance, I would still buy a BA premium economy seat, particularly for long haul flights, but that’s because I’m fairly tall and I like the few extras that remain. Air travel should be stress free and enjoyable and I’ll take advantage of those things I can afford to meet that goal. More room in a smaller cabin on a longer trip is a plus.
Despite the cutbacks the majority of the benefits remain; priority check in, priority boarding, more room, etc. I like to board earlier, settle into the bigger seat with extra leg room, and hope that maybe this time the food and service will be better. But it often feels like the triumph of hope over experience.
British Airways in the media
“…we need to hark back to the days when BA planes drew gasps of admiration from our French neighbours, as hilariously depicted in one of the “Fly The Flag” commercials from the Eighties, rather than offering competition to Ryanair. If you want to sell Britain abroad it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that a successful flapship airline is an invaluable asset.”Mariella Frostrup, The Daily Telegraph, November 2017
AIRLINE: British Airways. I have Stockholm syndrome—the worse they treat me, the more devoted I become!Mariella Frostrup, Air Mail, July 2022