British Airways’ Impressive World Traveller Plus

Hello from London! I’ve flown back to university after a short trip home, and did so in British Airways’ premium economy. While I’ve always wanted to try British Airways’ premium economy in order to try all premium economy products flying between Hong Kong and London, in this case I didn’t really have a choice, due to the limited award space availability between Hong Kong and London during the new year. This is also the reason I flew British Airways’ 777 over their A380, as I personally would’ve preferred the latter.

British Airways Boeing 777 Hong Kong Airport

My predictions for the premium economy products flying between Hong Kong and London was that British Airways would come rock bottom, though I came off this flight very impressed. British Airways is a strong contender for having the best premium economy product between Hong Kong and London. Since I’m a bit behind on trip report writing, I figured I’d briefly share the things I was impressed by, though expect a full report to follow within the coming month.

What British Airways gets wrong

Two things about British Airways’ premium economy product really annoy me, and make the product a lot less appealing than it otherwise would be.

The first, and by far the worse of the two caveats, is that you have to pay to select your seat. I frown upon this in economy, let alone in premium economy – I paid HK$484 to select my window seat, and an exit row seat with no window went for more than double that at the time of booking. I forgot to screenshot the prices for selecting a seat on my specific flight, but here’s a picture of seat selection pricing on my parents’ flight in British Airways business class later this month – yowzers!

No other airline I know of charges for seat selection in premium economy or business class, and the competition on this route (Virgin Atlantic and Cathay Pacific) certainly doesn’t. Unacceptable, British Airways!

The second caveat is that British Airways doesn’t offer a separate check-in line for premium economy passengers. I saw a few surprised faces from business travellers in premium economy as they asked ground staff where the premium economy line was, only to be directed to a huge line along with economy. I’d checked in online, though this didn’t accelerate the process – same line. Check-in took around 30 minutes, especially considering British Airways’ A380 and 777 flights depart at essentially the same time.

Long check-in line in Hong Kong for British Airways passengers

While I don’t consider this last point a caveat specific to British Airways, it’s annoying how premium economy baggage allowance is allocated on both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic – both allow two 23 kg bags for each premium economy passenger. On the other hand, Cathay Pacific allows two pieces of baggage for a total of 35 kg, which is far less, but much more convenient – one of my bags measured 29 kg, which cost me an extra HK$664.

In summary, the ground experience isn’t great when flying British Airways’ World Traveller Plus.

British Airways’ impressive onboard experience

British Airways boards business class and premium economy passengers together. This is great news for premium economy passengers, though I’d imagine I wouldn’t be as happy if flying in business class.

As aforementioned I could only secure a seat on British Airways’ 777, featuring 44 seats in a 2-4-2 configuration (the middle section features 6 rows, whereas the side sections feature 5 rows each).

British Airways Boeing 777 Premium Economy Class

The seat itself was basic for premium economy and featured a somewhat worn footrest, though I was impressed by the padding. The seats featured a winged headrest, which some may like more than others – personally, this took away my preferred sleeping position of ramming my head against the wall, though I actually found that the headrest cradled my head quite well.

I managed to sleep very well in this seat, contrary to my expectations. While I try my very best to score a window seat in premium economy so I can sleep leaning on the wall, I might actually consider choosing the aisle seat when flying British Airways premium economy next time due to how nice the headrest is.

British Airways Boeing 777 Premium Economy Seats Reclined

In terms of amenities, I received an amenity kit with all the basics (including a dental kit), a pillow, and decent headphones. However, I was most impressed by the blanket, which was quilted and very comfortable. It reminded me of Lufthansa’s blanket in business class (British Airways has better bedding in their own business class product).

British Airways Boeing 777 Premium Economy Blanket

While the seat was good, the food on this flight far surpassed my (unfairly low?) expectations. I ordered a braised beef dish, which was served with some mixed root vegetables. I put my fork into the beef and it fell apart – no knife required. The potatoes were also buttery and very well-cooked, the carrots were seasoned well (they were cooked with bacon), and the onions were very good as well. The side barley-based salad also featured a refreshing squeeze of lemon, and the cinnamon carrot cake for dessert was moist and flavourful as well. I was almost shocked by how good the food was on this flight.

British Airways Boeing 777 Premium Economy Food

In addition, while by no means personable, the crew were bubbly and eager to please. The flight attendant serving my aisle in particular was efficient, accommodating and great with refills. British Airways crews serve alcohol on the side when serving cocktails. I ordered a bloody mary during the first meal service, and was served a tomato juice/Worcestershire sauce/ice concoction with a vodka mini on the side. I only used half the mini in my first glass, and told the flight attendant I wasn’t sure what to do with the other half of the mini. She smiled and eagerly topped up some bloody mary “base” for me.

British Airways Boeing 777 Premium Economy Bloody Mary

I struck up a conversation with a flight attendant on the way to the toilet (located in economy, as British Airways doesn’t dedicate any lavatories to premium economy passengers), and the flight was particularly full as British Airways scaled back their 777 flight to Hong Kong over the Christmas period. Despite that, the crew were in high spirits, and provided excellent service on this flight.

I also bought WiFi on this flight, which cost £21.99 (~HK$223) for the entire flight. That’s not cheap by any means, though WiFi was unlimited and consistently fast, which I really liked. The only annoying thing was that you couldn’t switch between devices, so I was confined to my phone on this flight (I wasn’t going to do any productive work on a redeye flight to London, so decided I’d get more value out of purchasing inflight WiFi for my phone in this case). Speeds were great, measuring 6.11 Mbps down and 2.82 Mbps up.

Bottom Line

Based on what I’d read about British Airways, I had very low expectations of their premium economy product. My expectations were further lowered when going through their subpar ground experience, from selecting my seat for an additional fee, to queueing in the economy lane during check-in.

As a result, British Airways’ premium economy product came across as alarmingly good. With a very comfortable seat, awesome food, great service, good amenities and WiFi, I was left very satisfied on this flight. That being said, Virgin Atlantic also has a very good premium economy product between Hong Kong and London.

I can’t wait to try out Cathay Pacific’s premium economy product in June so I can properly compare all three airlines’ premium economy products between my two home cities.

Have you flown British Airways’ World Traveller Plus before? How was your experience?

Any thoughts?

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