Skip to Content

Flying in Style: An Honest Review of British Airways Premium Economy

I live in West London so British Airways is my immediate airline of choice due to its base at Heathrow. I feel like I know Heathrow Terminal 5 almost as well as I know my home sometimes. I fly British Airways often and am currently on silver status. To clarify, British Airways has never paid for any of my flights and I’m not even sure they know I write airline reviews.

I have flown Club World with BA quite a few times, so this British Airways business class review covers several business class flights, thus the number of meal photos you will see! I have also flown British Airways Premium Economy several times so I will compare BA business class with premium economy and British Airways with Virgin Atlantic upper class and premium economy.

British Airways Business Class Offer

British Airways Business Class is called Club World globally. Within Europe, on short-haul flights, business class on BA is called Club Europe. The big difference between the two is that Club Europe does not have flat beds. Instead, the seating is the same as you would find in economy apart from it being at the front of the plane and the middle seat is always empty.

In this review, I will focus on business class in Club World. I most frequently travel business class with BA when I visit the United States so this article covers long-distance flights between London and the West Coast of the United States.

The key features of British Airways Club World are as follows:

  • Dedicated Check-in Areas at the Airport
  • Security Fast Track at Heathrow, Gatwick, and JFK
  • Additional Checked Bag Allowance
  • Ability to book a seat at check-in at no extra cost
  • Priority boarding
  • Lounge Access
  • Flat Bed Seat and all on-board amenities etc.

British Airways’s newer planes (Airbus A350-1000 and the Boeing 787-10) offer what is called Club Suites in business class. The key difference between Club Suites and Club World is a privacy door, direct aisle access for all seats and more storage area.

BA business privacy screen
Club Suites Privacy Door

The Boeing 777-300ER and the Boeing 787-9 both have Club World Seats.

Checking In

Club World has separate check-in areas at both Heathrow Terminal 5 and London Gatwick. When you arrive at Heathrow Terminal 5 have your car take you to the end of the drop-off section as this is where the Club World check-in area is located. The check-in area is clearly marked but not closed off (First Class check in is closed off). Bag drop is normally very speedy at the Club World check-in at Heathrow Terminal 5.

heathrow terminal 5 british airways check in

Club World has a closed-off check-in area at London Gatwick which I like a lot. It definitely has a more premium feel vs an open check-in area where business class is merely a separate hopefully shorter queue.

Club World passengers can bring a cabin bag and a laptop or handbag on board. This isn’t that different from what a premium economy or economy customer can bring on board. However, on full flights economy, passengers often have to check their cabin bags. This won’t happen if you are flying Club World.

Checked baggage is a generous 2 x 32 kgs per person. This is 9 kgs per person more than premium economy (2 bag check-in as well) and economy (1 bag check-in), a substantial difference.

gatwick british airways check in club world
Gatwick Airport British Airways check in for Club World

NB: If you are traveling on a connecting flight the luggage allowance is determined by the airline that operates the longest flight in your itinerary.

British Airway’s Club World Passengers receive security fast track at Heathrow and Gatwick and priority boarding.

British Airways Business Class Lounges

British Airways’s home in London is Heathrow Terminal Five. BA has two lounge options at Terminal 5: the north and south lounges. I personally prefer the south lounge as it is closer to many gates. This is also where the first-class lounge for British Airways is located.

british airways business class statute at the airport

The Club World Lounge is located at the top of the escalators. It is a large lounge with a nice view over the runway and airport. Best of all, a great and extensive food selection is generally available at the South Lounge at Heathrow. I am a huge fan of their breakfast, which would give many hotel breakfast buffets a run for their money. The lounge uses Union Coffee and the machines are good.

BA lounge Heathrow.
BA lounge Heathrow.

During the day there is normally an extensive range of different types of salads and warm food on offer. The big differentiator of this lounge for me is its extensive range of food. I have not seen many lounges offer this level or variety outside the Middle East. It is also possible to order via QR code from your seat in the lounge.

BA lounge heathrow food
BA lounge heathrow food

The downside of this lounge is that there are only a few toilets and they always seem to be busy. Getting a shower at the lounge is possible, but this needs to be booked via the QR code.

The business class lounge at Gatwick is similar but not as large.

BA planes on tarmac

The British Airways Club World Lounge in Seattle is a good size with some decent food but it is crying out for a refurbishment.

BA lounge heathrow bathroom
BA lounge heathrow bathroom

NB: British Airways also has an arrivals lounge at Heathrow Terminal 5.

British Airways Business Class Review: The Cabin and the Seats

There are three different cabin configurations for British Airways business class.

2 x 4 x 2
-A380 main deck
-777-200 LGW

2 x 3 x 2
-A380 Upper Deck

1 x 2 x 1

Personally, I much prefer the 1 x 2 x 1 configuration as all seats then have direct aisle access. If you want to see the person you are traveling with then taking the two middle seats works well. If you end up with one of the middle seats and don’t want to see your neighbor, there is a handy privacy screen that is easily erected.

british airways business class cabin

Club World seats convert into a 183 cm or 6 foot fully flat bed. They also have a fully adjustable headrest and lumbar support.

BA business class cabin

Club Suites have a whopping 198 cm or 6 foot 6 inches fully flat bed plus digital seat functionality to ensure your sitting time is as comfortable as possible. This is a vast improvement in bed length but only manages to bring BA into line with some of the major Middle Eastern and Asian airlines when it comes to bed length. For example, the flat bed on Cathay Pacific can be up to 205 centimeters.

british airways business class bed

There is extra storage space compared to Club World and even a little cupboard with a mirror. In my experience, most planes haven’t many mirrors outside the bathroom.

You might enjoy reading some more of my business class reviews:
Malaysia Airlines
Thai Airways
Air France
Swiss Airlines

BA business class seat controls

Even better the power area is to the side of the seat allowing for easy access. This is considerably better than the locations used by most airlines which generally require an extensive yoga position to get a fully charged phone.

british airways business class foot rest

In Club Suites there is also a nice little reading light that is easy to turn on and perfect for reading on your flat bed before heading to sleep.

You might enjoy reading my reviews of Delta Premium Economy and Alaska Airlines First Class.

british airways business class review locker for shoes

I am a huge fan of British Airways Club Suites. I have always liked the British Airways Club World product but all the Middle Eastern airlines and many of the Asian airlines have a much better business class offer. With Club Suites, I now find BA comparable to the best Middle Eastern and Asian airlines. And as I am short I don’t mind that there are longer beds available.

british airways business class seat and screen

The food

BA champagne

British Airways generally serves two different champagnes: brut and rose. When I flew with them in early 2023 the champagnes were Heidsieck & Co Monopole and Bessarat de Bellfon. The white wines were a sauvignon blanc from Marlborough and a South African chenin blanc. The reds were a South African Pinot Noir and a South African cabernet sauvignon.

BA shrimps seattle-lon
british airways business class steak

My meals were poached shrimp with cherry tomatoes, jalapeno peppers and saffron aioli followed by an excellent barbeque beef short rib with mashed sweet potato, sauteed spinach, carrot and broccoli. Dessert was pistachio mousse or chocolate coffee fondant and a selection of cheeses.

BA meal lon-seattle
BA meal lon-seattle

Headed in the other direction, I enjoyed a roasted British beef salad with broccolini, baby corn, carrots and horseradish cream. My main meal was braised beef cheeks with cheddar au gratin, french beans, broccolini, fire-roasted red pepper, asparagus, parsnips and beef jus. Dessert was British apple crumble or chocolate pudding and a selection of cheeses.

BA dinner seattle-lon
BA food lon-seattle

I find the lunch and dinner meals on British Airways business class to be of outstanding quality. However, the breakfast offers are generally quite average.

BA cheese
BA bagel breakfast seattle-lon
BA bagel breakfast seattle-lon

The Service

I really like the service of British Airways business class. I always find it very friendly but never too much. Having said that, I have lived in England for 20 years. The staff are generally quite jolly and authentic and I like this on my long flights.

british airways business class bubbles and toiletries bag

As always, the farther up the cabin, you can sit, the better e.g. lower row number when it comes to service. The back row, of course, gets served last and is most likely to have a more limited offer of food and drink items.

The entertainment

British Airways Club World seats have a 12-inch flat screen. Club Suites has a 17-inch high-resolution screen; the difference is noticeable and enjoyable. I believe both versions of business class offer the same noise-cancelling headphones which are effective but nothing extraordinary.

BA entertainment screen

I am a big fan of the British Airways in-flight entertainment offer but again I live in the UK. In August 2023 British Airways doubled the size of its entertainment library and they now offer more than 70 box sets. They also have channels for HBO Max, the BBC and Paramount Plus as well as others.

BA entertainment menu

Evaluating the in-flight entertainment system is very personal, as what I love might be your worst nightmare. However, based on my experience, British Airways has one of the biggest entertainment offers.

ba headphones

The amenities

BA amenities bag inside

I really like the White Company amenities on offer with British Airways. The little leather-ish bags are a very handy size. Each one contains a lip balm, a very nice pulse point roller and moisturizer. The eyemask is good quality, as are the socks. The bags also contain a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a pen.

british airways business class toiletries

The pillow is actually a good size which can be quite rare in air travel. There is a slim mattress protector to place on the seat which I like and then a separate duvet that is very comfortable.

BA bedding

I have had very little luck with British Airways flights to and from the West Coast of the United States when it comes to wifi. The flights often go over Iceland, Greenland and Canada so I assume this is why there is generally not much wifi available during the flight.

BA business class bed

Airline Comparisons

British Airways Business Class vs British Airways Premium Economy

British Airways Club World is a big step up from British Airways World Traveller Plus, particularly with the new club suites offer. I find the British Airways Premium Economy offer to be much closer to economy versus the excellent Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy product.

It is definitely worth paying quite a big extra to upgrade from British Airways premium economy to business class. Personally, if business class costs up to USD$700 more than premium economy per leg I upgrade.

British Airways Business Class vs Virgin Atlantic Upper Class

I prefer British Airways business class to Virgin Atlantic Upper Class. Whilst Virgin has the best lounge product and the fab onboard bar, I do not like their “pod” sleeping configuration. I don’t like being that close to the next seat and I really don’t like being seated directly across from other passengers. Their Upper Class offers no privacy.

I prefer the standard British Airways Club World to Virgin Atlantic Upper Class. When you add the British Airways Club Suites offer, I would absolutely pay a few hundred dollars extra to fly with British Airways business class vs Virgin Atlantic.

British Airways Business Class vs Other Airlines

The standard British Airways Club World product is inferior to the standard offer on most of the Middle Eastern and Asian airlines like Emirates and Qatar in my opinion. However, combine Club Suites with the quality of their food and the strong in-flight entertainment offer and I think they are on par. If I was flying, say London to Australia I would not pay extra to fly British Airways vs Singapore or Qatar but I would see them as being on the same level.

British Airways Business Class Review in Conclusion

Overall I am a fan of British Airways Business Class, particularly when it comes to the Club Suite product. It is a major upgrade compared to the rather average British Airways premium economy offer. In my opinion, British Airways business class is better than Virgin Atlantic and the club suite offer is in line with the business class offers of the Middle Eastern and Asian airlines.

I covered most of the costs of all of the flights mentioned in this article. In some cases, the destination marketing organisations with whom I work subsidized part of the airfares. However, British Airways did not cover any of my airfares. This post does contain affiliate links. That means if you click through on some of the links in the article and make a purchase I may receive a small commission.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Like this post? Why Not Share It?

Thanks for Sharing!