First Published October 2017, last updated October 2018.
Just over a year ago I flew premium economy with Qantas Sydney to hong kong return. It was a fantastic experience. In fact, it was so good it made me question if I could really justify the extra amount to fly business class if it wasn’t an Australia – Europe/US flight. So when was looking at flying from London to New York – and then Los Angeles to London return – I thought I would give British Airways World Traveller Plus a shot.
British Airways World Traveller Plus: Online Check-In
Unfortunately, things did not get off to a good start. Two days before my flight I went on to the app and was able to reserve an aisle seat – great! The next day when I went to actually check in online I was told that my passport number was wrong and that I wasn’t able to check in. I then had issues with my uber so only arrived at the airport 90 minutes before my flight.
British Airways World Traveller Plus Review: Bag Drop and issues arise
I went and used the check-in machine and my seat had changed to a window – which was, of course, good news for me! Then I went to the desk for bag drop. When the attendant is on the phone for some time when all you are doing is dropping your bag it is not a good sign.
I was told by the attendant that I had been “sneaky” taking the window seat. I was quite annoyed by this and said that how could I be sneaky when the app had done this for me. I was then told that they had overbooked business class and that seat had been meant for someone who was being downgraded to world traveller plus – which meant they now wanted to move me to economy.
I was so annoyed. It really makes me furious when airlines do this. Or should I say when British Airways do this as they are the only airline that has tried to bump me from flights several times due to overbooking. In what other industry would an organization take your money ahead of time and then when you turned up to experience that service be told that you couldn’t as they had overbooked – and that apparently this was fine?
It is a major problem as a solo traveler as we are at the top of the list when it comes to who gets bumped first. I was once told by a BA staff member that the safest people were those also flying with BA from a connecting airport eg Manchester to London and then on to say NY, followed by groups, followed by families and then followed by couples. Only the male solo traveler is worse off than the female solo traveler!
My annoyance was greater as I had injured my ankle in Nepal earlier that year and absolutely could not have sat in economy for several hours without problems. Luckily I had a letter from my doctor with me (I had it in case my ankle got worse and I needed medical treatment) so I was able to produce this and say I had to stay in world traveller plus.
I ended up in premium economy but not without quite a bit of undue stress and frustration. This experience alone has been enough to really put me off flying with British Airways. I do find it outrageous that you can be potentially bumped like this – and that the staff always seem to act like this is of no consequence and why are you getting upset?
OK rant over!
Click here to read My review of Thai Airways Business Class
BA Premium Economy: Getting to the Gate
Anyway, the flight was then at Gate A10 at Terminal 5 which means a very long bus trip. I thought we were driving to New York! BA World Traveller Plus also means no lounge access and no priority seating.
British Airways World Traveller Plus: The plane and the seats
The plane was a little old and compared to Qantas it felt a lot less spacious. The seat layout was 4 in the middle and 2 on each side. I was on the side thank goodness. I would have been very unhappy to have paid for premium economy and to have had one of the extreme middle seats. I often wonder who ends up in these seats – are they the people that don’t make sure they do early online check-in? Or maybe they are more tolerant than me!
BA World Traveller Plus Review: In-flight amenities
There were very good quality headphones which were nice. BA also does have a very good in-flight entertainment system. The in-flight amenities kit was not bad – socks, eye mask, earplugs, toothbrush and a pen. Great idea to have a pen as everyone needs one on a flight!
There is a lot of leg room and the seats are comfortable. I was also pleased to see that there were 2 USB ports in the seat ahead and then 2 power points between the seats.
Read my review of Air France Business Class
The food was a big positive for the flight. It did feel like an upgrade from economy. We were also offered a glass of sparkling wine before take off which was lovely.
Click here to read my Iberia Business Class Review
British Airways World Traveller Plus: Some Positives
One of my favourite features of British Airways world traveller plus is that they have a very useful brochure which explains all the features and benefits of the world traveller plus seat – this is such a good idea! Every premium economy and business class seat is different and you don’t want to miss out when there are good features that can be used!
There was also a good sized storage locker next to the window which was handy – another reason to try to get the window seat.
World Traveller vs World Traveller Plus
In March 2018 British Airways made major upgrades to its World Traveller and World Traveller Plus cabins at Gatwick on their Boeing 777s. Both cabins have had their entertainment screens increased by 50% in size. I’m looking forward to checking out the new six-way headrest! Interestingly these new planes will feature a considerable increase in the number of World Traveller Plus seats – coming from a reduction in Club World. Premium Economy is on the increase!
So what about the rest of the fleet?
World Traveller Plus is a major improvement on World Traveller, which doesn’t offer the best seats. Also, there are few opportunities to upgrade within World Traveller – apart from the exit rows. If you have a long flight or an overnight flight I think the upgrade cost is absolutely worth it.
Upgrading to Club World
Theoretically being in World Traveller Plus means it is easier/more likely that you can be upgraded to Club World. BA does offer paid opportunities for upgrades but not all the time – and not necessarily at the best prices. The best way to check if this is an option for your flight is to visit the Manage My Booking page. The price varies generally between 400 and 700 GBPs.
For frequent flyers, Avios points are a good option for upgrading – or combining Avios points with payment. It is not normally the best use of Avios to upgrade (they tend to be their most effective for less visited longer trips in economy class in my experience) but it is a good option.
Finally, if you are a frequent flyer and flying World Traveller Plus there is a greater opportunity of an upgrade. This is most likely to happen where World Traveller Plus has been booked out and business class has seats.
British Airways Premium Economy: The Verdict
Overall it feels like the key difference between world traveller and world traveller plus on British Airways is the seat itself. On Qantas and other airlines, there does feel like there is more of a difference between the 2 cabins – particularly when it comes to service. I was flying with British Airways when they were having extensive problems as an airline so it cannot have been fun to be working for them at that time. However, I am paying the extra and I do expect a slightly better service.
I would hesitate to take British Airways Premium Economy again – mostly driven by nearly being downgraded to economy. I don’t want to have to worry about this when I am headed to Heathrow. I, of course, would fly with them if there was a good enough deal I suppose but they have certainly moved down my list after this experience.
Here is BA’s full rundown on their premium economy offerClick here for Prices and Deals on British Airways
I use Skyscanner for all my flights – from economy through to business – click here to Check out SkyScanner
And don’t leave home without Travel Insurance
Boutique Hotels in London
Artist Residence is located in Pimlico which is fabulously central. IT is in a gorgeous 5 store regency building and has a cute bar. Prices start at £150 a night. Click here for latest prices and deals
The Portobello Hotel is located in one of London’s best known and cutest neighborhoods Notting Hill. This is also the hotel where Kate Moss and Johnny Depp filled up the bath with champagne! The hotel is located on a quiet street but is a great location. Don’t miss Portobello Road not just for the traditional Saturday market but for loads of great restaurants and bars like The Distillery – and one of my favourite London experiences The Electric Cinema. Prices start at £150 a night. Click here for deals and availability.
The Great Northern Hotel is ridiculously close to Kings Cross and St Pancras stations which is incredibly convenient. This area has also nearly finished its amazing rejuvenation project and there are loads of fabulous restaurants and bars and interesting things to do on your doorstep. The hotel dates back to 1854 but has had a major refurb so it feels fresh and modern. Prices start at £229 a night. Click here for deals and availability.
The Hoxton hotel is in the heart of east London in Shoreditch and a perfect base for exploration. The rooms aren’t huge but the location makes up for it – as does the great value for London with rooms starting at £99 a night. Click here for deals and availability.
Heading to London? Key Things to Book Before You Go
Several purchases ahead of your trip can allow you to save money and time. Here are some of the essentials:
-A london visitor oyster card is the cheapest and easiest way to get around London. Preload the Oyster Card with money and you will be able to tap in and out of the tube, buses and trains. And the Oyster Card figures out the cheapest rate for the journey you take each day and calculates and deducts this for you. A Must have!
-If you’re landing at Heathrow – as so many international flights do – the fastest way to get to central London is the Heathrow Express. Save time and money by booking your heathrow express tickets before you leave home. If you’re flying into Gatwick then book your gatwick express eticket here.
-if you’re planning on taking some day trips around London to places like Oxford or Brighton you’ll save a fortune if you order the BritRail London Plus Pass. You MUST order this pass before you arrive in the UK. This pass will also cover your tickets on the Heathrow Express and/or Gatwick Express.
-Another great pass that you MUST by before you arrive in the UK is the English Heritage Overseas Visitor Pass. This pass provides access to over 100 of the most important places in British History – including Stonehenge, Hadrian’s Wall and Dover Castle to name a few. You only need to visit three locations and the pass has paid for itself. And use your BritRail London Plus Pass to get to the sites for even more savings.
-Check your emails as soon as you land with mobile wi fi rental wireless internet anywhere you go in britain
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Also published on Medium.