Good Advice Tried and Tested

British Airways B787 World Traveller Plus

29/06/2014

BACKGROUND

British Airways launched its London Heathrow to Austin service in March, the only direct route between the cities and the third Texan destination for the airline, after Houston and Dallas.

The route operates daily with one of the carrier's brand new B787 Dreamliners.

CHECK-IN

I arrived at Austin-Bergstrom International airport at 1515 in good time for my 1810 departure on flight BA190 to Heathrow.

I was seen to immediately at the British Airways World Traveller/World Traveller Plus desk. There was a bit of a queue at security but it moved quickly and I was airside by 1525.

BOARDING

The flight was departing from Gate 2, about a five-minute walk to the right of security. When I reached it at 1735 I was just in time to hear my row being called, so I boarded immediately.

Once in my seat I was offered juice or water, a newspaper, and given a menu. A blanket, pillow, noise-cancelling headphones and an amenity kit containing socks, shades, earplugs, a pen, toothbrush and paste were waiting for me.

THE SEAT

The B787-8 seats 214 passengers across three classes — 35 Club World seats, 25 World Traveller Plus (premium economy) seats and 154 in World Traveller (economy).

World Traveller Plus is set across four rows (ten to 13) configured 2-3-2, with seats labelled A-B, D-E-F, J-K. For a seat plan, click here. I was in 10A.

Upholstered in dark blue fabric, the seat is 18.5 inches in width, reclines eight inches and has 38 inches of legroom (compared with 30 to 31 inches in economy). It has an adjustable headrest with side wings, and a footrest that either comes out from the seat in front or, in the case of the front row, from under the seat itself.

Individual 10.6-inch in-flight entertainment (IFE) screens are either on the back of the seat in front or — in my case — pop out of the armrest. The tray table came out of the central armrest and folds in half if you just want to put a drink on it, or folds out fully for working or eating. It bounced a bit when I typed on my laptop.

There is also a small shared cocktail table between the seats. There is in-seat power for UK/EU/US plug sockets, and USB ports, and a magazine rack is either located on the seat-back or the bulkhead in front of row ten.

Even though the cabin was almost full (as was also the case in the other two classes), there was plenty of room in the overhead lockers, which are larger on the B787.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE?

Go for the front row (ten) as you have more room in front and no one will be reclining into your space.

Even if you are in the window seat it isn't too hard to step around your neighbour to reach the aisle. If you are by the window you can also control the B787's windows, which are larger and can be brightened or dimmed at the touch of a button, creating a more natural ambience.

Seats at the back of the cabin (13A, B, J and K, and 12D, E and F) are directly in front of the bassinets at the front of economy so you may be disturbed by noise, as was the case on my flight. Avoid E seats as you have neither a view nor direct aisle access.

THE FLIGHT

We pushed back five minutes ahead of schedule and took off shortly afterwards.

There was a hot towel service and then drinks were served, before the meal service. This comprised a salad with a serving of balsamic dressing, beef fillet or vegetable lasagne (I had the latter and it was tasty but there wasn't much of it, and I found myself looking longingly at my neighbour's beef dish), rolls and lemon cake.

Service was friendly and helpful, and when I asked if there was any fresh milk for my tea, the attendant brought some back to me from the galley, which was appreciated. A small bottle of water and metal cutlery were provided, and wine was served in mini bottles.

After dinner the lights were dimmed so I switched on my reading light (the button is on the remote control fitted into the armrest) so I could continue working. I then reclined my seat and got a few hours of fairly decent sleep. Breakfast was served before landing.

ARRIVAL

We landed a few minutes behind schedule and were quickly off the aircraft. Both immigration and baggage collection were swift.

VERDICT

Impressive. The Dreamliner is a great aircraft to fly, the premium economy seat was comfortable for both work and rest, and the crew were welcoming.
 

FACT FILE

  • PRICE Internet rates for a return premium economy flight from London Heathrow to Austin in June ranged between £1,435 and £2,875 depending on flexibility.
  • CONTACT ba.com


Michelle Harbi