a plane with many seats

Review: British Airways 787 Economy Class (LHR-YUL)

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Review Overview
YTHK'S VERDICT

A perfectly pleasant way to cross the Atlantic Ocean in Economy, albeit with slow service and sub-par cabin maintenance.

4.0

I recently flew with British Airways from London to Montreal in their long-haul World Traveller Economy Class product. While we’ve reviewed British Airways’ Premium Economy and Business Class products here at YTHK, we haven’t had the chance to talk about their long-haul Economy product – until now. With British Airways restoring twice-daily flights to Hong Kong, I figured that it would be helpful to share my experience.

Booking My Flights

I needed to take a quick hop across the Atlantic Ocean after a semester in Europe and managed to snag a round-trip ticket between London and Montreal for around GBP 400, with the outbound in British Airways’ Economy Class (also known as World Traveller) and the return in British Airways’ Premium Economy (also known as World Traveller Plus – review of that incoming).

a row of seats on an airplane
British Airways’ 787-9 World Traveller Plus Cabin

With my Cathay Gold/oneworld Sapphire benefits, I also got two free checked bags up to 32kg, seat selection, priority check in/boarding, and lounge access. Not too shabby if you ask me!

I credited my flights to Cathay – Cathay Pacific’s loyalty programme. However, since my outbound flight was booked in discount economy, I received a whopping 5 Status Points and 810 Asia Miles.

The Ground Experience

I made my way through London Heathrow Terminal 5’s priority check-in and security lines (which were mercifully short) to our departures gate. Unfortunately, boarding for our flight was significantly delayed – although this wasn’t announced on the flight information monitors After a few more minutes of standing around at the gate, boarding began, following which a hoard of priority passengers scrambled to get in line.

I was welcomed aboard by the Inflight Manager.

British Airways Flight BA95
Monday, June 5th, 2023
Origin: London Heathrow Airport (LHR) Dep: 18:40
Destination: Montreal-Trudeau International Airport Arr: 20:10
Duration: 6 hr 30 mins
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9
Seat: 33D (World Traveller)

I made my way past the large World Traveller Plus cabin to reach the World Traveller section. British Airways’ Boeing 787s are in a premium-heavy configuration. On this aircraft, the World Traveller cabin is located between the third and the fourth set of doors.

a plane with many seats
British Airways Boeing 787-8 World Traveller Cabin

I find British Airways’ cabin design to generally be modern but inoffensive, and this aircraft was no exception. There were, however, small signs of wear and tear, which was unsurprising considering that this aircraft is almost 8 years old and British Airways’ relatively… relaxed approach to cabin maintenance.

a row of seats on an airplane
British Airways Boeing 787-9 World Traveller Cabin

The Seat

Each seat has a large headrest with large “wings”. To my surprise, while the headrest can be adjusted up and down, the wings are fixed in place. Regardless, I found the headrest to be perfectly comfortable enough to rest my head on. Each seat is 17.5 inches wide, which is slightly less comfortable than the standard 18 inch-wide seat on the Airbus A350. That being said, I found the seat to be noticeably wider than British Airways’ Boeing 777 aircraft, which are configured with 10 seats per row.

Legroom on these aircraft is at an industry standard of 31 inches. For reference, I’m 175cm tall, and found the legroom to be good but not amazing. The seat also has a bi-fold tray table and a seat pocket.

a close up of a seat
British Airways Boeing 787-9 World Traveller Seat

Each seat is equipped with a 9-inch last-generation television screen. The touchscreen function on these television screens was a little slow and the display was lower quality than the screens you’ll find on some newer aircraft.

Under the television screen is a clunky handset, and a USB power outlet which was broken for most of the flight. Thankfully, I was able to use the – rather slow but fully functional – universal AC power outlet located under the seat to keep my phone charged. I was a little disappointed at how poorly British Airways has maintained the hardware on these relatively new aircraft.

a screen on an airplane
British Airways Boeing 787-9 World Traveller Television, USB Outlet, Remote

The Inflight Manager and Captain hopped on the PA to welcome us onboard after boarding wrapped up. Shortly afterwards, British Airways’ new(ish) safety video was shown.

a screen on a plane
British Airways Safety Video

I actually really like British Airways’ safety video. It’s not too long, stacked with classic British humour, and paced fast enough to not be awkward.

The Entertainment System

After the safety video, I took some time to explore British Airways’ last-generation entertainment system, which felt a little outdated. Regardless, there was a pretty extensive selection of movies, television shows (including full box sets!), and even a collaboration with Paramount+.

a screen on a vehicle
British Airways Boeing 787-9 Entertainment System

There was also a Best of Britain sub-section in the system, which looked interesting.

a screen on a plane
British Airways Boeing 787-9 Entertainment System

As I mentioned, there were also some episodes of Paramount+ shows onboard.

a screen on a vehicle
British Airways Boeing 787-9 Entertainment System

I still decided to stick with my preferred form of inflight entertainment for the flight: the inflight map ;).

One noteworthy point is that the system was really laggy. It often took a really long time to move between selections, which was quite frustrating, especially considering that the touchscreen was also really slow. Overall, this speaks to a recurring theme that the hardware on some of British Airways’ Boeing 787-9 aircraft is either outdated, or very poorly maintained.

Overall, while there are definitely better entertainment selections and systems out there, British Airways offers a decent enough system that should be more than enough for any long-haul flight.

a screen on a plane
British Airways Boeing 787-9 Moving Map

First Meal Service

A drinks service began 20 minutes after take-off, which is quite impressively speedy. Unlike some of its transatlantic partners (ahem… Finnair and American…), British Airways continues to offer a complimentary full bar – including wine and spirits – for passengers. I decided to order some white wine, and was given two mini plastic wine bottles. The crew also offered a pack of sour cream and onion pretzels, which I declined.

two bottles of wine and a glass on a table
British Airways Boeing 787-9 World Traveller Drinks Service

The wine was drinkable – although I caveat this observation with the fact that I’m more of a wine drinker rather than a wine enjoyer. Cups were not collected after the initial drink service.

After the drinks service, the crew disappeared World Traveller cabin for 2 hours. The meal service for World Traveller started with special meals – which arrived around 2 hours after takeoff. The “main” meal service for World Traveller started around 2 hours and 20 minutes after take-off.

I’m not quite sure what the delay was about. As it was a relatively short, daytime transatlantic flight, the drawn out meal service wasn’t too much of an annoyance. However, I would imagine that – if we were on a red-eye – I’d be a bit frustrated at the slow pace of the meal service.

Eventually, a friendly crew member came by and offered a choice of piri piri chicken with rice or pasta. I went with the chicken. Another flight attendant offered extra drinks to go with the meal – so I ordered another white wine.

food in a tray on a table
British Airways Boeing 787-9 World Traveller Meal

The rice came with a quinoa salad, a (cold) bread roll, some cheese and crackers, a bottle of water, and a lemon torte dessert. I appreciate that British Airways has moved to wooden cutlery on its Economy flights.

food in a tray on an airplane
British Airways Boeing 787-9 World Traveller Meal

Overall, the meal was (surprisingly) solid. The chicken was tender and flavourful, and the side salad was light and refreshing. The dessert in particular was delicious. The portion sizes were also plentiful enough for an Economy Class. Notably, the meal was catered by Do&Co – which has a relatively strong reputation among inflight caterers.

The cabin crew came through the cabin offering coffee or tea. I went with a tea with milk. When in Rome…

a cup of coffee and a sugar packet on a table
British Airways Boeing 787-9 World Traveller Tea

By the time the meal service wrapped up, we were about halfway through our flight to Montreal. It appears that the crew were struggling a bit during the service, to the point where the Inflight Manager came to the World Traveller cabin to help finish up clearing the trays.

Service onboard was friendly and professional. I wonder if the slow pace of the meal service was due to a poorly planned service flow, insufficient staff, or the crew just having a bit of an “off” day.

a screen on the plane
British Airways Boeing 787-9 World Traveller Moving Map

Pre-arrival Meal

After a very satisfying nap, I woke up in time for the pre-arrival meal. There was a choice between a chicken pastry or a vegetarian pastry. I went with the chicken pastry, along with a glass of water. I was very pleasantly surprised that the pastry was warm. Historically, British Airways only served a cold sandwich as a pre-arrival snack on transatlantic route.

a box of chocolate on a table
British Airways Boeing 787-9 World Traveller Pre-Arrival Snack

The pre-arrival snack came from Monty’s Bakehouse, which infamously also supplies inflight baked goods for other airlines. Most notably, Cathay Pacific used to serve Monty’s Bakehouse sliders and pizza wraps in their Premium Economy cabins as a mid-flight snack, although this has since been cut.

While the chicken pastry isn’t going to win any awards for best inflight catering, I found it to be hearty enough to tide me over until arrival – especially considering that it was served only a few hours after the main meal service.

Coffee and tea was offered, which I declined. Before I knew it, we were nearing Montreal.

a screen on a plane
British Airways Boeing 787-9 World Traveller Moving Map

Descent and arrival

Around an hour before arrival, the captain came on the PA system to give us updated arrival. As is standard on British Airways, the announcement ended with a thank you to the cabin crew for their hard work during the flight, which is a nice touch.

Shortly after, the crew came through the cabin with pre-landing checks.

an airplane with a screen and a tv
British Airways Boeing 787-9 World Traveller Arrival into Montreal

The sun was just starting to set as we arrived into Montreal. We were treated to some very nice views of the city through the Boeing 787’s extra large windows.

a screen on a plane
British Airways Boeing 787-9 World Traveller Arrival into Montreal

Our arrival was smooth, and before we knew it, we were on our way towards immigration.

Bottom Line

British Airways is an airline that gets a lot of flack. From operational meltdowns to constant cost cutting, the airline is often portrayed in a very negative light both within the media and also in the frequent flyer community. However, I rather enjoyed my transatlantic hop with British Airways. The seats were comfortable enough, the service was friendly, and the food was excellent. I walked off the flight very pleasantly surprised. The experience certainly wasn’t perfect – the first meal service was really slow, and our boarding delay was poorly handled. Yet, I found the overall experience to be good enough.

As a oneworld loyalist, I wouldn’t hesitate to fly with British Airways again in World Traveller, especially if the pricing is competitive. Pricing and scheduling being equal, I would prefer British Airways over other oneworld carriers’ transatlantic products.

2 comments

  1. “Around an hour after arrival, the captain came on the PA system to give us updated arrival. As is standard on British Airways, …”

    I presume you meant before?

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