Let me begin with some disclosure. I am a mad collector of avios! It’s an addiction, akin, I imagine to so many of the other unrecognised addictions like binge watching box sets and the game Fortnight. I do many crazy things to get my British Airways tier points and earn Avios. Mostly, using the skills I have developed over the years, I generally travel in Club World or First for a fraction of the normal prices. When I can’t, I am in World Traveller (Economy).
So today I am experiencing something very new. I have walked pass the World Traveller Plus cabin a few times and gazed over at it from my favourite seats in Club World, 25A and 25K many more times but I haven’t actually travelled in it during all the years I have been a miles junkie. Incidentally, 25A & K are the only seats in Club World on the Boeing 777 that offer completely privacy and don’t carry the risk of someone tripping over you or you tripping over someone on the way to the bathroom.
I digress! Back to my review of the British Airways Premium Economy offering.
Now, the first thing you need to know about the miles game is that you can pay a lot less money to travel on British Airways premium cabins if you are prepared to put in some effort. When you travel from the UK in any cabin higher than economy you have to pay the air passenger duty (APD). This is a staggering 176. When you are transitting through the UK, APD does not apply and you therefore save this amount. In addition when travelling in British Airways from the UK you pay a premium on long haul routes because they are the home carrier and they are offering you a direct flight. Flying from Europe on British Airways via London however is an entirely different story. From Europe, BA are competing with every other long haul hub carrier offering indirect routes to various destinations. So by flying on British Airways in any premium cabin from Europe you save on APD and you save on the premium price that is applied for direct flights from London.
To put this in perspective, my flight from London to Jeddah in WTP return was pricing in at £1,219 if I bought the flight starting in London. From Frankfurt however the ticket cost me €660 which is a little over £580. That’s an incredible 53% saving on World Traveler Plus from London.
Of course, I had to get to Frankfurt first. To do this, I used 4,000 avios (I will earn over 10,000 as a from the trip) plus £17.50 for a one way ticket to Frankfurt. I flew out on BA902 at 0710 and arrived in Frankfurt at 0955. So far so good. My return ticket from Frankfurt was booked on BA903 (the same aircraft I came in on) departing Frankfurt at 10:55 and arriving into London at 11:30. All things being well, I planned to be home by 1pm with 7 hours to relax before heading back to Heathrow from my 2205 flight to Jeddah. Unfortunately, once we had boarded, the captain announced that due to adverse weather conditions at Heathrow we would be delaying our departure by 1 hour. This was doubly frustrating because in addition to the delay, I didn’t get a chance to review the JAL lounge at Frankfurt which BA Silver and Gold card holders are entitled to use.
Jeddah and Kuwait are the only 2 long haul routes in the world where British Airways use a wide body aircraft and only charge 60,000 Avios for a return ticket in Club World. The other long haul routes that BA offer at this rate of avios are Amman, Beirut and Cairo, but all three of these are on the old BMI Airbus A321 aircraft.
By booking premium economy on British Airways, I would only need 22,500 avios to upgrade to Club World. That’s not bad for £580 considering a return business class ticket to Jeddah on British Airways usually costs over £2,000!
Alas, I was unable to upgrade on the outbound flight as availability on the reward booking class for Club World never opened up and hence my review of this cabin which sits between economy and business class.
We landed at 12:10 and I headed home for some much needed rest! After leaving home at 0430, I was back home and in bed at 14:00.
As a Silver member, recently downgraded, but 93.6% of way back to Gold. I get the benefits of checking in at the business class counters and using the fast track security lanes at terminal 5. These are not benefits available to World Traveller Plus passengers. In addition I get to use the British Airways business class lounges at Terminal 5- again not something that is available to passengers booking World Traveller Plus.
I got to gate B33 at about 2115 which was 50 minutes before departure. Silver members along with business class passengers are priority group 2. As there was only one person in the first class lane, getting on board was pretty quick. World Traveller Plus passengers do get the benefit of priority boarding. They board immediately after business and first passengers along with British Airways Bronze and OneWorld Ruby members in Priority Group 3.
The first thing that surprised me was the air steward offered to hang my jacket for me. Considering the last few times I was in Club World the cabin staff forgot to ask to hang my jacket, this marked an encouraging start to the journey. Hot towels and welcome drinks followed! The seats are wider than economy with a 2-4-2 formation. Previously BA operated a 3-3-3 formation in economy but this has now been changed to 3-4-3 on the 777. The space is noticeably wider than economy and reasonably comfortable.
The screen size is slightly larger than in the economy cabin. the table is stored in the side arm of the chair, which provides a little more real estate for screen space. For dinner we were offered a choice of Arabic style roast lamb with rice or roast chicken. British Airways have recently switched caterers from Gate Gourmet to Do&Co. The changes are instantly recognisable. The lamb was tender and juicy and the flavours were delicious. Shortly before landing we were offered tea or coffee and a croissant cheese sandwich.
Flying Premium Economy on British Airways offers some advantages. Firstly, if you are collecting tier points for a higher status on British Airways, Premium Economy offers 90 tier points per flight. A return flight gives you almost one third of the tier points needed for silver status or almost two thirds of the tier points needed for bronze status. In addition, all Premium Economy bookings are eligible for upgrade with Avios. On longer routes like Los Angeles, Hong Kong or Johannesburg where the price differential between Club World and World Traveler Plus is significant, this can be a cheap route to flying in Business class.
With only 40 seats in the cabin, you do get a better service than in economy and more personal attention from cabin crew. The dining options are superior to standard economy and you are served in fine china and offered linen napkins, metal cutlery and a 3 course meal.
On my Jeddah flight the price of World Traveller Plus can be as low as £650 direct from London if booked in advance, during a sale and for travel during an off peak period. At this price, it is only £200 more expensive than a standard economy ticket, and worth the premium. For my dates, the price differential was over £1000 and not worth the differential in my opinion.
Will I travel in World Traveller Plus again? Probably, but only if the price differential between economy and premium economy isn’t too significant or if the option to upgrade is available immediately at the time I book.
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