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What to Know About British Airways Premium Economy

By
Rebecca Holland
|
Freelance Writer
British Airways plane.
May 20, 2022
|
6 min read

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 While they were innovative at the time, their product now seems a bit outdated in comparison to newer offerings.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. 

British Airways premium economy seat.
All photos courtesy of British Airways

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 Scott's Cheap Flights has found on British Airways

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.

Baggage allowance

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 premium economy

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 balms, earplugs, and noise canceling headphones. 

British Airways amenity kit.

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. 

Alcohol

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. Scott's Cheap Flights 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. 

Summary

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.

More premium economy resources

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Frequently asked questions about British Airways premium economy

What does British Airways premium economy include?

British Airways premium economy includes larger seats than economy, two three-course meals, snacks, complimentary alcohol, an upgraded amenity kit, priority check-in, and double baggage allowance.

Do you get lounge access with British Airways premium economy?

No, lounge access is not included with a British Airways premium economy ticket.

Is food served in premium economy on British Airways?

Yes, passengers in premium economy on British Airways generally receive two full meals, plus snacks, on a longhaul flight.

How many checked bags do you get in British Airways premium economy?

Premium economy passengers on British Airways can check two bags weighing up to 23kg/51lbs each.

What are the best seats in British Airways premium economy?

On British Airways, seats closer to the front of the premium economy section are slightly better, because the farther back you are the closer you are to the restrooms and to economy, which can be louder.

Last Updated 
May 20, 2022
What to Know About British Airways Premium Economy
Rebecca Holland
Freelance Writer

Rebecca is a freelance travel and food writer who has lived around the Middle East for the past decade, in Jordan, Iraq, and now Dubai. She wants everyone to visit this part of the world for the history, hospitality, and especially the food! She writes for AFAR, Food & Wine, The Guardian, and more, and is the founder of Curiosity Magazine.

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