Features

Premium economy versus business class

23 Jan 2004 by Tom Otley
British AIrways sleeper service from 2004

London Heathrow to New York JFK

Departure/lounge:

World Traveller Plus and World Traveller economy passengers board simultaneously, so no preference there, and there is no automatic access to lounges. What you miss out on at Heathrow is the BA Club World lounge (“The Terraces”). It is a reasonable size with a good choice of drinks, though only snacks for food for most of the day. Business facilities for work are popular but not overcrowded.

Boarding:

The flight from London Heathrow was called on time, there was little queuing once security had been cleared and we were off on time. No drinks were offered prior to the flight, though a few metres forward we could see Club World passengers enjoying a choice of water, orange juice or champagne.

Seating:

The Boeing 747-400 had a 2-4-2 configuration with a seat pitch of 97cms (compared to 79cms in World Traveller). Club World has flatbed, of course.

The flight

Trouble free. The five hour time difference between the UK and east coast US means that on a typical flight you arrive only a few hours after you set off. It gives you time to work, then relax.

Entertainment/food:

Other than seat-pitch, the main sells for World Traveller Plus over and above World Traveller are in-seat laptop power, personal video screens with the same programme as in Club World, complimentary newspaper (the Daily Mail on our flight) and the same three-course meal as World Traveller. The in-seat power for both World Traveller Plus and Club World is only an advantage if you have bought an adapter. None were available on the flight.

Arrival:

No problems, other than a 45-minute wait to clear immigration.

JFK to London Heathrow

It’s here that Club World pays dividends. There are several flights returning daily with BA, the majority late afternoon and evening, which means you can wake up the following morning to arrive in London. There are several Club World advantages. Firstly, the dedicated check-in, which speeds up your arrival. Secondly, the business class lounge at JFK is of a high standard, with lots of room and several different areas for those wanting to work, read, relax or watch television. Most crucially, there’s also a dedicated dining area offering a three-course buffet menu. It means you can have an evening meal, then fall asleep on the plane taking advantage of the flat bed and getting a good, uninterrupted night’s sleep.

Verdict:

On the way out, on a day flight, you can manage with World Traveller Plus. You don’t need to sleep, and you don’t mind Club World getting served first, since you’re awake and working or watching TV anyway. On the way back, though, typically overnight with the time difference, flat bed, the lounges and the preferential service comes into its own.

Price comparison:

fully flexible out in World Traveller Plus and back in Club is £2641.30 and the fully flexible Club return is £4036.30.

INFORMATION BOX

PREMIUM ECONOMY

British Airways Premium Economy — World Traveller Plus — was first introduced in 2000, and is now available on more than 90 long haul craft in the BA fleet, serving more than 50 routes to and from Heathrow and Gatwick. Recent additions include Gatwick to Barbados and Gatwick to Atlanta.

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