British Airways Premium Economy checks all the boxes. The seats are comfortable — but a little outdated. The food and service was also perfectly passable. With competitive pricing both on paid and redemption tickets, World Traveller Plus is great value.
I flew British Airways’ 787 in Premium Economy from Montreal to London Heathrow in June of 2023 – but never got around to writing out my review. Considering that not much has changed about the product since 2023, I figured that it would be useful to give my thoughts on the product and share what passengers should expect.
Booking the Flights
This was the return journey of my flight from London to Montreal in British Airways’ World Traveller Economy product. I managed to snag a ticket with a return in World Traveller Plus for around GBP 500. I credited these flights to the Cathay loyalty programme and received 25 Status Points – which isn’t bad considering that I received 5 Status Points for my outbound flight in Economy.
British Airways 787-9 at Heathrow Airport
Before we jump into the review, I just wanted to clear up some terminology:
- World Traveller Plus is the “branded” name of British Airways’ Premium Economy product.
- World Traveller is the name of British Airways’ Economy product.
- Club World is the name of British Airways’ Business product.
I’ll be using these terms interchangeably throughout the rest of the review. With that out of the way…
The Ground Experience:
I received a notification that our flight would be delayed by approximately 2 hours and arrived at Montreal-Trudeau Airport around shortly before our re-scheduled departure time. The check-in area was deserted at the time. Even though the delay was announced more than 8 hours before our original departure time, it appears that many passengers weren’t notified.
British Airways Check-In at Montreal Airport
I appreciate that World Traveller Plus passengers now receive priority check in with British Airways, which wasn’t previously the case with British Airways.
A friendly ground agent checked me in quickly and informed me once again about the delay. Interestingly, although I’m a oneworld Sapphire member, I didn’t receive priority baggage handling for this flight. I’m not sure if this was a slip-up, or standard British Airways policy.
After clearing security, I headed to our gate to wait for begin. I got a (very bad quality) photo of our aircraft as ground preparations for our flight continued.
British Airways 787-9 at Montreal Airport
Eventually, boarding was called starting with Group 1 (First and oneworld Emerald) passengers. World Traveller Plus passengers board after First, Business, and oneworld elites in Group 3.
British Airways Flight BA94
Monday, June 5th, 2023
Origin: Montreal-Trudeau International Airport (YUL) Dep: 22:10 (23:45)
Destination: London Heathrow Airport (LHR) Arr: 09:40 (11:15)
Duration: 6 hr 30 mins
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9
Seat: 18D (World Traveller Plus)
I was welcomed by the friendly Inflight Manager and turned right into the Club World cabin, which sported British Airways’ last-generation “yin-yang” seats.
British Airways 787-9 (Old) Club World Cabin
These seats will progressively be replaced by British Airways’ Club Suites product, which features direct aisle access and privacy doors.
After the Club World cabin was a relatively large World Traveller Plus cabin with 39 seats arranged in a 2-3-2 configuration. Interestingly, British Airways’ 787-9s are very premium-heavy, with First, Business, and Premium Economy making up approximately 75% of the aircraft’s cabin space. The decision to go with a low-density product appears to have paid off, especially considering the rapid increase in popularity of Premium Economy in recent years.
British Airways 787-9 World Traveller Plus Cabin
I found the last-generation Recaro seats equipped on this aircraft to be perfectly comfortable, but nothing industry-leading. Each seat was noticeably wider than a standard Economy seat and came with a fixed-wing headrest. I wasn’t a big fan of the fixed wing style of the headrest – which didn’t allow for as many resting positions as an adjustable headrest. The seat was also quite well-padded.
British Airways 787-9 World Traveller Plus Seats
Each seat also comes with an adjustable footrest which could be locked into different positions. However – unlike on British Airways’ Airbus A350 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft – the seats don’t come with a padded calf rest. On one hand, I managed to get quite comfortable with just the footrest alone. However, an additional calf rest would have been nice – and would bring the seat up to current industry standards.
British Airways 787-9 World Traveller Plus Legrest
According to British Airways, World Traveller Plus seats are spaced at 38 inches apart from each other, which is quite standard across most of the industry. Still, I felt that the amount of personal space in Premium Economy was a drastic improvement from Economy – especially considering that Economy cabins on the 787 are generally densely packed.
British Airways 787-9 World Traveller Plus Legroom
Each seat is also equipped with a 10 inch personal television, as well as two USB-A power outlets. The television relies on last-generation touchscreen technology which is painfully slow. Thankfully, there was a functional remote in the armrest. Both USB outlets were broken – which is consistent with British Airways’ lax approach to cabin maintenance. Thankfully, there was a universal power outlet located under the seat which worked well.
British Airways 787-9 World Traveller Plus Entertainment Screen and USB Outlets
Pre-Departure Service and Amenities
There were no pre-departure drinks or hot towels on our flight, although I believe that this has been restored by British Airways since my flight.
A basic amenity kit with eyeshades, socks, earplugs, and a dental kit was placed at my seat upon boarding. I particularly liked the eyeshades, which fit comfortably around my face and was well-padded.
British Airways World Traveller Plus Amenity Kit
Alongside the amenity kit was a pair of large headphones which are supposed to be noise cancelling. However, I felt that the sound quality and comfort of these headphones weren’t great.
British Airways World Traveller Plus Headphones (featuring my hands – if anyone’s looking to hire a hand model…)
Shortly after boarding was completed, the inflight manager made a welcome announcement and screened the safety video.
British Airways Safety Video
Shortly after, the cabin lights were dimmed entirely and we took off around two hours behind schedule.
The crew kept the lights dimmed until well after the seat-belt sign turned off. Shortly after, crew members came through the World Traveller Plus cabin with paper menus while the cabin was still dark. Eventually, the lights were turned all the way up and the meal service commenced.
British Airways 787-9 World Traveller Plus Cabin
Due to the late departure time, no pre-dinner drink service was available. Considering that I was pretty exhausted by this time, I didn’t have a problem with this. It is, however, worth noting that World Traveller Plus passengers have the option of cocktails not available in World Traveller (including my personal favourite: the bloody mary). However, as far as I know, the rest of the drink selection is identical to World Traveller.
Instead, the crew launched directly into the main meal service. There was a choice of three main meals – a braised beef, a curry, and a pasta dish. World Traveller Plus receives different meal options to the choices offered in World Traveller. I went with the red-wine braised beef, which I washed down with a mini bottle of red wine. The main came with a cold bread roll, a grain salad, and a chocolate brownie.
British Airways 787-9 World Traveller Plus Meal
The meal was pretty good for airplane food, but nothing spectacular. The beef was quite tender, although I found that the dish – especially the potatoes – was quite dry. A little bit of gravy or sauce would’ve gone a long way in making the dish better. On the plus side, the sides were pretty delicious. The starter in particular was light, refreshing, and flavourful.
Overall, I was enjoyed the meal. The food was high quality, and I appreciate that the food was served in porcelain or glass tableware and with stainless steel cutlery. Overall, the catering was pretty average for a Premium Economy product but significantly better than a typical Economy meal.
When the meal wrapped up, some of the crew from the Club World cabin came back to clear trays and offer coffee and tea to passengers in the World Traveller Plus cabin, which was a nice touch. The cabin lights were shut off well before service in the Economy cabin was completed, which allowed me to get a little bit more rest.
I woke up as the lights were turned on for the breakfast service. The crew came through the cabin with a choice between two different warmed savoury pastries and drinks. I went with a cup of apple juice.
British Airways 787-9 World Traveller Plus Breakfast
The friendly inflight lead ended up giving me both of the options to try, which was a really nice touch. The pastries were pretty good – nothing mind-blowing, but filling enough to tide me over for a little bit. I appreciate that British Airways offers a warmed choice for the pre-landing snack on transatlantic flights, especially as most competitors only offer a cold continental breakfast. That being said, the food on offer in World Traveller Plus and World Traveller was identical, which is a little disappointing considering that other airlines (such as American) offer an upgraded second meal service in Premium Economy on transatlantic flights.
Service on our flight was pretty good. Everyone I interacted with was friendly and courteous – although it did feel at times that some of the crew were a bit inexperienced and a confused by the service flow.
Landing and Arrival
After the breakfast service, the lights were fully turned on and we prepared for our descent into London Heathrow Terminal 5.
British Airways 787-9 World Traveller Plus Cabin
The rest of the flight was uneventful, and we arrived at London around two hours late. As a silver lining to our delay, I missed rush hour at Heathrow Terminal 5 immigration and got through in 5 minutes – which must be some kind of a record for London Heathrow. I headed on to Terminal 3 to catch my connecting flight back to Hong Kong in Cathay Pacific’s A350 Premium Economy.
British Airways offers a stellar Premium Economy product. While the product is not industry leading, the seats are a nice upgrade from your average Economy product, the food has a “premium” touch, and the service is friendly. That being said, it’s definitely not a product that isn’t outstanding or particularly aspirational. British Airways seems to have settled with offering a serviceable inflight product, and is instead relying on its network out of London Heathrow as a key differentiator with other airlines.
Furthermore, I note that British Airways typically prices its Premium Economy product lower than competitors, and charges a relatively more modest premium over standard Economy than other airlines. All things combined, British Airways’ World Traveller Plus offers great value. I wouldn’t hesitate to fly the product again in the future if the price is right.