Airline review: British Airways World Traveller Plus (premium economy)

Proper meals and generous baggage allowance will make you carry on laughing.

THE ROUTE

London to New York

THE PLANE

Boeing 747-400. British Airways operates 57 of these planes, the greatest number of the type in operation with any airline.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Executive Club. Passengers can also earn points toward other Oneworld Alliance airlines' programs.

UP THE BACK OR POINTY END?

World Traveller Plus (BA's name for Premium Economy), seat 28D

TIME IN THE AIR

Seven hours between Heathrow and JFK Airports

THE SEAT STUFF

38 inches (97cm) pitch, 18.5 inches (47cm) width. There are 30 Premium Economy seats in a mostly 2-4-2 layout.

BAGGAGE

Two checked bags, each up to 23kg in weight. As carry-on luggage BA also allows one cabin bag and a smaller personal bag, each (believe it or not) up to 23kg in weight.

COMFORT FACTOR

Our Premium Economy seats are in a small area between Business and Economy Class, with an air of exclusivity once the curtains are drawn. Unlike some airlines' Premium Economy offerings, BA's version feels like an incremental step up from Economy rather than a budget version of Business. Our exit row seats, with their fixed armrests, seem snug, however, the headrest can't be raised quite high enough to match my height. There's plenty of leg room though, and the seat has an extendable footrest and lumbar support adjustment. As we're in a bassinet row and there are no babies present, we're able to fold down the table for our own use.

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT

Entertainment comes via a tiny screen with a 4:3 aspect ratio, which swivels from beneath the armrest. The picture quality of my screen menu is occasionally dodgy, with interference lines, but movies look fine when played. There's an impressively long and diverse selection of new release films, from Godzilla to The Grand Budapest Hotel via Muppets Most Wanted. A smaller kids' section contains such British heroes as Postman Pat. The TV section includes such gems such as the aptly trans-Atlantic comedy series Episodes. A pleasant change of pace under Audio is a collection of spoken-word books, ranging from classics such as Moby Dick to Jennifer Saunders' Bonkers.

THE SERVICE

The cabin staff are a friendly and cheerful multinational crew who respond quickly and efficiently to requests.

FEEDING TIME

Lunch is served an hour after take-off, and it's reminiscent of Business Class with its cloth napkins, metal cutlery and wine glasses. I go for the seared fillet of British beef, which is pleasingly tender, accompanied by a decent French merlot cabernet sauvignon. My wife Narrelle opts for the most tongue-twisting dish I've ever seen on an airline menu: chicken malagueta with biro biro rice, roast peppers, okra caruru and chimichurri sauce. We joke about the airline making up some of the words, but Narrelle reports that it's a tasty dish, moist and tender. She still doesn't like okra (to which I reply "Don't watch her show then"), but is positive about the orange chocolate mousse for dessert. I like it too.

ONE MORE THING...

Sofitel has a comfortable upmarket hotel connected to Heathrow's Terminal 5, so if you don't fancy an early morning trek from central London it can be worth staying on-site.

THE VERDICT

Though not a substitute for Business Class, BA's World Traveller Plus is a notch above Economy and would be worth considering if you had the pounds to spare.

THE FREQUENCY 

Nine times daily

Tested by Tim Richards, who paid for his flight but was upgraded to World Traveller Plus by British Airways.

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