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Flying in economy just isn't what it used to be. Over the decades, many airlines have reduced legroom, squeezed more seats into each row and cut back on services. Many travelers can't afford to pay for business class. Enter a Goldilocks middle ground: premium economy. Arguably, one of the better premium economy products available is British Airways premium economy.
Let's take a look at what you need to know about British Airways premium economy — which the airline calls World Traveller Plus — including what you'll find onboard and how the experience differs from what you'll find in economy.
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For many passengers, the main reason to book premium economy instead of economy is the larger seats. And British Airways certainly delivers in this regard.
Compared with economy, British Airways premium economy gives you more space in all directions — more seat width, more legroom and more recline. Tall passengers rejoice: British Airways premium economy gives you around 7 inches of additional legroom — measuring 38 inches of pitch vs. just 31 inches of pitch in economy.
In addition to a substantial recline, British Airways premium economy seats offer both a fold-out legrest and a fold-down footrest.
Throughout the cabin, you'll find a large, fixed armrest between each seat. Although this slightly reduces seat width, it means that you shouldn't need to battle your neighbor for control of the armrest. At the front of each armrest, a cup tray provides enough space for two glasses. And you'll find a water bottle holder between the footrests in each seat pairing.
Depending on the aircraft type, the British Airways premium economy cabin is either arranged 2-3-2 or 2-4-2. This means there are two seats by the windows and either three or four seats in the middle column of seats. This arrangement makes British Airways premium economy a great option for couples traveling together who prefer to have their own two-seat row.
Each British Airways premium economy seat has a large and bright 12-inch touchscreen with seemingly endless entertainment options. All of this is a substantial upgrade from what British Airways offered prior to a recent cabin refresh.
Below the in-flight entertainment screen, British Airways installed a storage tray. This provides a convenient place to store your phone, passport, boarding pass or other items that you want nearby — but not in your pockets — while in-flight.
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In addition to bigger and better seats, British Airways provides notably better food and drink service in premium economy as compared with economy.
This elevated service starts before the wheels even leave the ground. Flight attendants pass through the cabin offering pre-departure beverages of orange juice or water, served in real glassware. Although sparkling wine is available in-flight, it's not available on the ground in the World Traveller Plus cabin.
In-flight, British Airways advertises that World Traveller Plus passengers get "two delicious meals, complimentary bar service including signature cocktails (or mocktail)." Here's what that looks like in practice.
Flight attendants pass through the cabin shortly after takeoff to provide a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. In my experience, flight attendants proactively provide doubles of alcoholic beverages. Plus, you'll get a choice of wine to go with your dinner.
For meal choices, menus aren't provided to passengers. Instead, flight attendants note the meal options as they pass through the cabin. British Airways provides two options — typically one vegetarian and one meat-based meal. Meals are generally served with a salad, a packaged roll, a dessert and a choice between several types of wines — typically two reds and two whites.
While the first meal is hot and meets premium economy standards, the second meal is generally a cold, packaged meal served in a brown paper bag. Although perfectly adequate, I haven't found this meal to be particularly "delicious" — falling short of what British Airways advertises.
British Airways premium economy doesn't just provide bigger seats and better meals. British Airways World Traveller Plus passengers also get better amenities and additional perks like priority boarding.
British Airways premium economy amenity kit, pillow and blanket
At boarding, World Traveller Plus seats are typically stocked with a small pillow, blanket and a plastic-wrapped package including noise-canceling headphones and an amenity kit.
The British Airways premium economy amenity kit includes socks, an eye mask, lip balm, a pen, a toothbrush and toothpaste. Earplugs are available on request.
Other perks of British Airways premium economy
Extra baggage allowance: British Airways premium economy typically allows two free checked bags at no additional cost. Comparatively, some British Airways economy fares are "hand baggage only" and charge up to $175 each way for two checked bags.
Priority boarding: British Airways World Traveller Plus passengers board no later than Group 3 boarding. Meanwhile, economy boarding groups stretch to Group 9.
Universal power outlets: The recent refresh to British Airways economy cabins only provides USB power outlets in economy. However, you'll still find two universal power outlets between each pairing of World Traveller Plus seats in addition to a USB outlet.
British Airways premium economy represents a significant step up from economy. You'll get a bigger seat with extra legroom and recline. Plus, passengers get better food and drink options along with extra perks like priority boarding and extra baggage allowance. And mileage collectors and elite status members will appreciate earning extra miles and elite-status credits.
Photos by JT Genter.
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