I recently flew from Toronto, Canada to London, England in World Traveller Plus aboard British Airways. I was especially excited to try the airline’s premium economy offering (known as World Traveller Plus) because I had heard so many positive comments about the upgrades BA had made to their premium economy product over the last year from fellow travelers.
Leading up to their centenary (the airline turned 100 in 2019) British Airways has been publicizing the big changes they had planned for World Traveller Plus, including comfier seats, better entertainment and enhanced meal service. I wanted to find out for myself if the reality lives up to the hype.
What is it about priority seating that just seems to get a trip off on the right foot? Guests flying World Traveller Plus sadly don’t get to enjoy airport lounge access, but they do get to take advantage of priority seating, which I very much appreciated. The World Traveller Plus section of my Airbus Industrie A350-1000 flight was an updated and elegant warm navy color. It was clean and inviting with a nice amenity pack, a cozy herringbone design quilt, a plush pillow and noise-cancelling headphones awaiting me on my seat. There was lots of storage room for carry-ons and room to maneuver in the aisle is you needed to let someone pass.
The flight attendants were very gracious and welcoming and soon after take off walked around to pass out menus and ask if passengers needed anything.
Laid out in a 2-4-2 formation, the World Traveller Plus section was larger than I expected with 52 seats. Seats feature a wow-worthy, six-way adjustable leg, foot and headrest. Seats themselves have a width of 18.5 inches with a seat pitch of 38 inches and there’s a very generous recline (though I was not able to get the exact measurements). Equally impressive is the legroom, made more enjoyable with the useful leg rest and fold-down foot rest, which really seemed to help take pressure off my back. The armrests were large enough that I never had to jostle with the person beside me for space.
One thing that must be noted, however, is that I found there was an annoying issue of decreased legroom storage space if you were seated on one of the outer two seats in the four-seat rows. For some reason, the outer seats are designed such that there is a bar that comes down right in-between a passenger’s feet that inhibits their storage space. This means that you only essentially have 50% of the storage space you normally would if the bar wasn’t in your way.
If I had had an average sized knapsack (or possibly even a small, kid-sized knapsack, for that matter) rather than a small purse, I would have had to store it inconveniently in the overhead bin or worked very hard to jam it into the allotted space. You can’t store your item in the larger space to the right because you share that space with your neighbor. The impeded space also means that you really couldn’t sit comfortably with your ankles crossed if you wanted to. I did, however, note that this was not an issue with the two middle seats in the four-row seats, nor was it a problem in the two-seat formation. This is really my only complaint about the seating. Just be sure to choose your seat wisely and keep this limitation in mind.
Luckily, it was easy to distract myself from my foot space issue thanks to World Traveller Plus’ new in-flight Panasonic entertainment system. It now has four times as many films, TV and audio and the screen size has doubled from six to 12 inches. Every single seat has a USB socket and World Traveller Plus seats feature a power outlet socket that handles UK, US and EU plugs.
The amenity bag in World Traveller Plus is another winner. Featuring materials made from recycled plastic bottles, the eye-catching pack includes eyeshades, socks, a pen (a novelty these days that excited my seat mate to no end), a toothbrush and toothpaste and luscious lip balm from Scaramouche & Fandango. Even the toiletry bag itself is one of the prettiest and best made I’ve seen in premium economy and I’ve already started using it as a change purse.
Service and Food
The food service in World Traveller Plus has also been re-vamped and the result was a mouth-watering surprise. On my flight there was a choice between grilled tenderloin of beef, chicken stir-fry and cannelloni pasta. I ordered the tenderloin and was impressed to find the cut was not dried out (an all-too-common issue I’ve had with ordering beef on a flight) and the veggies were not overcooked. To ensure you get your first choice of meal, customers traveling in World Traveller Plus have the added bonus of being able to pre-order a main meal up to 24 hours before departure via the ‘manage my booking’ tool on ba.com.
There was also a wide choice of complimentary alcoholic drinks, including British Airway’s refreshing drink, the “gin fizz.” I can truly declare that it now ranks as my favorite aircraft signature cocktails.
Throughout the voyage, the flight attendants were very attentive and gregarious and there was never an overly lengthy pause between food or drink offerings. There seemed to be a genuine effort to make passenger’s flights as enjoyable and friendly as possible. Once, hearing me asking my seat companion for under-the-radar museum recommendations in London, the attendant kindly suggested God’s Own Junkyard and Horniman Museum and Gardens and her suggestions were met with unanimous agreement by the Londoners seated nearby.
Overall, I was impressed with British Airways stylish and updated World Traveller Plus. Aside from my complaint about impeded foot space, the food, service and entertainment were highlights of the trip and I was even able to catch a lengthy snooze (a sad rarity for me normally on airplanes). It made what was a seven-hour flight seem like a much shorter, eminently endurable affair and showcased what elevated economy should be.