Flight Details: London Heathrow (Terminal 5) to Sydney, June 2018.
Aircraft: Boeing 777 jet
Flight number: BA0015
Seating: 40 seats in Premium Economy
24J & 24K
Duration: 22 hours 40 minutes via Singapore.
Tier points: 300 Tier points return. Avios depend on your Executive Club Tier.
2 x 23kg checked baggage allowance.
Separate cabin offering more privacy, personal space and comfort.
Complimentary food and drink service.
* Over standard World Traveller (Economy).
When the Unique Boutique Travel team travels for business it is invariably at the client’s expense. That means budget airlines and chain hotels. When we travel for pleasure we always prefer to travel in style. That means Business class or Premium Economy whenever possible.
As an antipodean living in London, I have made the return journey to Sydney many times over the last twenty years. In the early days, my budget restricted me to Economy class, which was a nightmarish journey. At 6ft 2”, the Economy seating is oppressive. My knees touch the back of the seat in front and it’s a crushing journey of nearly 24 hours. In recent times the budget has extended to Premium Economy and finally Business class. British Airways may be our preferred airline, but this remains an unbiased review of their long-haul World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy) offering.
Check-in, Security and Lounge
The good news? Well, there is none. There is no advantage for Premium Economy passengers when it comes to Check-in or Fast Track through security. Likewise, there is no access to the Business class lounge for Premium Economy passengers, all of the benefits begin at boarding. However, if you are an Executive Club Silver you can use the Business class check-in desk and the lounge. This is one of the advantages of travelling regularly with a preferred airline.
This is where the benefits start for Premium Economy passengers. World Traveller Plus passengers are called to board after First and Business class passengers. You pass through the Club World (Business class) on your way to the small section designated for Premium Economy. Typically, you will be seated with your luggage stowed away before the economy passengers begin filing past. Before take-off, you will be offered a pre-flight drink, a sparkling wine or a juice.
In the Boeing 777 layout, the Premium Economy seating is in a 2-4-2 arrangement. The first thing you will note is the extra legroom, an entire 7 inches more than the Economy class seats. This makes all the difference on a long-haul flight. Even if the passenger in front reclines their seat you don’t get that claustrophobic feeling that occurs in Economy class (the pitch in Premium Economy is 38 inches, width 18.5 inches. Standard Economy has a pitch of 31 inches and a width of 17.5 inches).
There is no toilet in the Premium Economy cabin. You need to move back to the Economy or forward to the Business cabins. This is by no means a bad thing. However, at certain times during the flight, the Business class cabin will be cordoned off, leaving Economy as the only bathroom option.
Premium Economy has access to the Business class menu. This includes fine china crockery, contemporary tableware and linen serviettes. One thing to note is that Premium Economy will be served after Business class, so if a menu item has proved popular you may miss out on your first choice. The solution here is to always pre-book (a minimum of 48 hours in advance) your food selections before you fly.
The British Airways website states that Premium economy passengers receive noise-cancelling headphones. This is not the case, true noise-cancelling headphones will drown out all noise. The headphones I was given on the flight noise-reduction only. They reduce the roar of the engines to a steady, but audible, hum.
Lastly, you get the standard in-flight entertainment system, which is slightly larger than what is received in Economy. There is also a power supply incorporated into the seat to power mobile devices.
To be honest, the service is not that different to Economy class and certainly falls well below the attentiveness received in Business class. The only real advantage over economy is the smaller cabin, meaning that the flight crew have fewer passengers to deal with. I don’t have an issue with the level of service. There needs to be something to justify the steep price increase to upgrade to Business class. This said the service is certainly not poor.
The food offerings, being from the Business class menu was exceptional when compared to the meals served in Economy. Portions were sufficient in size and I never felt hungry throughout the flight. In fact, I probably could have eaten less. The drinks service was good with perfectly acceptable wines to accompany the meal.
World Traveller Plus is a 40+% mark-up (approx.) in price over standard Economy. Is it worth the extra cost? In the opinion of Unique Boutique Travel, absolutely yes. Economy class is efficient and functional, it provides a means from getting from point A to B. This fine if you are travelling for business, but if you are travelling for pleasure you want the journey to be pain-free and comfortable.
Premium Economy lacks all of the full-service benefits of Business class, but it provides a clear step up in comfort from the standard Economy offering. If your budget can’t quite stretch to Business class then World Traveller Plus is definitely an option well worth considering. The down-side to exploring the enhanced options is purely financial and once you have tried Premium Economy you will never want to go back.