British Airways B777-200ER World Traveller Plus04/10/2012
FIRST IMPRESSIONS I had checked in online selecting seat 21J in premium economy (World Traveller Plus) for my BA169 flight to Shanghai’s Pudong airport, and arrived at the airport at 1230 for the 1415 departure. I dropped off my bags at the bag drop, was quickly through security, and then went to the BA Galleries Lounge, courtesy of a BA silver card (600 tier points in one year).
BOARDING At 1325 the screens showed the flight was open at Gate A10, and by the time my laptop had shut down it showed the flight was boarding. I went down to the gate and by now announcements were saying the flight was closing, which it was not. Obviously this is all to get passengers quickly down to A10 which is where you are bussed out to the airport, but it doesn’t make for a restful start to a trip.
THE SEAT On this B777 the premium economy (known as World Traveller Plus or WTP for short) cabin was four rows (21-24) with a 2-4-2 configuration. For a seatplan, click here.
The seat was upholstered in blue fabric with plastic armrests. The headrest, leg rest and level of lumbar support can all be altered using the buttons in the armrest.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? Seat 21J is in the front row, which had the advantage of not having a seat reclining back into my space. It is a larger seat than those in economy (where the configuration is 3-3-3), has in-seat laptop power (though only if you have a special aircraft adaptor, which I didn’t) and an increased luggage alliance of two bags each weighing up to 23kg. As part of the service, we were also supplied with a cushion, blanket and amenity kit including earplugs, toothbrush, toothpaste, flight socks, and eye mask.
For more details and pictures, click here.
THE FLIGHT Once on board I was offered a choice of newspapers, and after takeoff (1440) a drinks service with a small packet of pretzels. There was then the meal service and a choice of meals: braised beef or chicken curry. I chose the chicken, which was delicious. There was also a choice of two red wines or two whites, as well as lager, bitter and soft drinks.
This is a long flight (11 hours outbound, over 12 on the return), so I spent a lot of time watching the Inflight Entertainment, which is Audio and Video on Demand (ie: you can stop and start it). I tried to sleep but found it difficult because this was effectively a day flight for those coming from the UK, although with the time difference, when you land it is the next morning in China. I also thought the cabin was too hot, which didn’t help, though obviously that comes down to personal preference.
During the night water was offered at least twice, and some juice about three hours before arrival. Although WTP is in its own cabin, if you want service you have to walk back through economy to get a drink. There are two toilets immediately behind the cabin between WTP and economy, but of course these are used by economy passengers as well, and can get busy. The previous time I flew WTP was on a B747-400, and a small drinks selection was set up, but on this flight it either was missing, or was at the back where I never ventured.
Before landing we were offered breakfast – a full English or Frittata. I had the latter which was uninspired, but which I ate because I was hungry.
ARRIVAL We landed on time and spent around ten minutes taxing before getting to our stand. There were no problems at immigration, and our bags were out quickly.
VERDICT Depending on route, WTP can be as much as double the price of an economy ticket, and I’m not sure it quite justifies that. The cabin had several seats spare (unlike business class and first class which were full, and economy which certainly looked full) and perhaps that’s a reflection of the increase in price over the economy product and what you get in return. My impression was that we were served by the same crew as in economy, the food was the same, and other than the larger seat, the onboard experience was about the same, so it really comes down to the extra legroom and extra baggage allowance (which, it should be noted, you get anyway if you are a silver or gold card holder in the BA Executive Club). You also earn Tier Points in that scheme and a 25 per cent mileage bonus every time you fly Word Traveller Plus.
PRICE A mid-week return in November through BA’s website costs £2,188.