British Airways Premium Economy vs Economy – Is It Worth Paying Extra?

Many questions arise about whether it’s worth paying extra for the Premium Economy over Economy cabins at British Airways since the company launched its World Traveller Plus cabin in 2000. 

Prioritizing comfort for passengers during a long-haul flight, Premium Economy also gives value to business travelers who prefer a more cost-friendly option than a business class flight. As a result, British Airways World Traveller Plus has gained popularity, earning a place in the top 5 of the World’s Best Premium Economy Class Airlines last year. 

In this post, I will focus more on comparing Premium Economy and Economy flights of British Airways based on a few categories, including: 

  • Price
  • Seat and Comfort
  • Perks and Rewards

In addition to comparing two flight cabins, I will also share a few alternatives for Premium Economy cabins from other airlines if you’re looking into booking your next long-haul flight from Europe!

Bottom Line Up Front

The price difference between British Airways Premium Economy and the regular Economy is quite huge, so I think upgrading to Premium Economy is only worth it for long-haul flights.

Besides the wider seat, British Airways Premium Economy also gives you more benefits in other aspects as they serve the same in-flight meals as the Business Class, and you can also check baggage for up to two pieces for each flight.

Main Differences Between British Airways Premium Economy vs Economy

The main differences between British Airways Premium Economy vs Economy are: 

  • British Airways Premium Economy offers wider seats with extra legroom and a greater recliner, whereas Economy has regular seats for regular Economy passengers. 
  • British Airways Premium Economy allows passengers to check baggage for up to two pieces, whereas Economy Standard passengers can check only one bag per flight. Economy Basic fare doesn’t include baggage allowance in the ticket, so passengers may have to pay extra if they want to check their belongings for the flight. 
  • British Airways Premium Economy can enjoy an intimate cabin experience and more attentive service with in-flight meals similar to Business Class, whereas Economy offers standard service for the passengers. 

The Cabins on British Airways

Cabins for World Traveller

Although most people say that Premium Economy is the mid-class between Economy and Business class, the main objective of British Airways when they started introducing the Premium Economy cabins was to encourage Economy class passengers to upgrade their flights rather than the Business class downgrading them. 

British Airways currently offers four flight cabin classes for their long-haul flights, including: 

  • World Class Traveller, which is the standard of their Economy class.
  • World Class Traveller Plus. The Premium Economy cabin has additional perks to their Economy class, including wider seats and more legroom for comfort. 
  • Club World is the Business Class standard with a spacious, convertible seat that you can use as a fully flat bed during the flight. 
  • First class, the most luxurious cabin class with onboard fine dining and priority services. 

So, what’s more about British Airways Premium Economy than the Economy class? 

Premium Economy vs Economy Class at British Airways

Before making a 1-on-1 comparison between British Airways Premium Economy and Economy class, let’s get a brief overview of each cabin class!

British Airways Premium Economy Overview

Branded as World Traveller Plus, British Airways Premium Economy offers some perks compared to Economy, including priority check-in. 

Available on all flights throughout Europe and the U.S, British Airways Premium Economy is popular with many of their corporate clients adjusting their travel policies, which allow their staff to fly the cabin instead of the regular Economy class. 

Apart from priority check-in, passengers for British Airways Premium Economy cabins also get “priority boarding, ” allowing them to board on flight after passengers in the first and business class. Premium Economy passengers can also check their baggage for up to two pieces.  

Pros:

  • Better flight experience with wider seats compared to the regular Economy cabin. 
  • You’re entitled to “priority boarding” after First and Business Class passengers. 
  • British Airways Premium Economy serves the same in-flight meals menu as the Business Class. 
  • You will get an upgrade for baggage allowance, as you’ll be able to check up to two pieces of baggage per flight. 
  • You can earn double miles for your Avios points compared to the Economy flights. 

Cons:

  • The British Airways Premium Economy flight ticket is much more expensive than the regular Economy.
  • Priority check-in counters for British Economy passengers are only available in London airports. 

British Airways Economy Overview

The regular Economy class for British Airways, World Traveller, offers the standard flight experience for flight routes beyond Europe. 

There are two ticket fares for the British Airways Economy cabin. For selected routes, you can choose Basic fare. Suitable for light travelers, the Basic Economy flight at British Airways allows you to travel with only hand luggage. 

If you’re planning to check in additional baggage, you can opt for the Standard Economy instead, which enables you to check one piece of baggage. You will have to pay an extra fee if you plan to bring more than that. 

Pros:

  • It’s the most affordable option for British Airways flights!
  • Depending on the fare types, you’ll still be eligible for a 1-piece baggage allowance if you purchase the Standard fare of the Economy flight. 

Cons:

  • If you want to check your baggage for the flight, you need to be more vigilant about your fare type as you may have to pay extra for additional baggage in that case. 

British Airways Premium Economy vs Economy: Price

When I compare the price for British Airways Premium Economy to the Economy class, the price difference is around £800. I think it’s not too bad, considering the price difference with the Business class is around four times higher than the Economy. 

Is it worth paying extra to upgrade to British Airways Premium Economy? I think £800 will be worth it if you book a long-haul flight to America which can take more than 12 hours. However, I think the gap is a bit too extravagant if you take a shorter flight route like London to Lagos. 

British Airways Premium Economy vs Economy: Seat & Comfort

british airways

Extra comfort is the main point of Premium Economy, but how is it rated compared to the standard Economy class? 

The main difference between British Airways Premium Economy vs Economy is their expanded legroom, where the Premium Economy seat is around 8 inches wider than the standard Economy. But other than that, they also offer additional perks that make paying extra for Premium Economy worth it. 

In London airports, you can find dedicated check-in counters for Premium Economy passengers, giving you the convenience of priority check-in compared to the Economy. There is also an additional baggage allowance where Premium Economy can check up to two pieces of baggage for the flight. 

For the in-flight meals, British Airways Premium Economy serves the same in-flight meals as the Business class. Served on porcelain dishes, you can choose the same menu as the Business class passengers during the flight. 

Unlike the standard Economy, you can also get free-flow snacks and beverages throughout the flight by request. British Airways Premium economy also offers signature cocktails, and complimentary sparkling wine is served after take-off! 

British Airways Premium Economy vs Economy: Perks & Rewards

Perks & Rewards

British Airways Premium Economy won’t give you lounge access unless you have Silver status on the British Airways Executive Clubs. Alternatively, you’ll be eligible for lounge access with British Airways Premium Economy if you’re a member of OneWorld with Sapphire status or above. 

Sign up for your British Airways Executive Clubs to collect Avios points for your flights. The main perk of being a British Airways frequent flyer member is that you can get points through the flights booked. On top of that, they’ve also partnered with various merchants, making it easier for you to collect points for a discount or upgraded flights with British Airways. 

Compared to the standard Economy class, you can get more rewards from booking a flight with British Airways Premium Economy as you can collect triple more miles than the Economy ticket. You can calculate how many points you can generate based on the cabin class and flight destinations by checking it through the Avios calculator

Alternative Premium Economy Flights from Europe

Apart from British Airways, a few other airlines also offer the comfort of their Premium Economy cabin in Europe. In this section, I’m going to highlight a few alternatives you can consider to flying with Premium Economy from the continent. 

Air France

The flag carrier of France is probably the best alternative to British Airways Premium Economy, especially if you travel from the UK. With Paris being the main hub, traveling to France from the UK is relatively fast and easy. 

Whether you take the Eurostar train from London to Paris or find a budget airline from anywhere in the UK, Air France is an excellent alternative to British Airways. Flying with Air France Premium Economy will give you access to priority check-in and boarding with extra baggage allowance. Lounge access is also available for an additional fee. 

KLM 

KLM

Branded as Premium Comfort class, KLM is one of the latest airlines that offer Premium Economy cabins on their flights. The Dutch flag carrier only launched the service in July 2022, and it’s currently limited to flight operations to destinations in North America only. 

Premium Economy passengers will receive the Sky Priority benefits during check-in and boarding for the flight with KLM. They also allow two carry-on bags with one personal item on board and two standard-size checked bags. 

Besides the wider seat legroom, KLM also offers in-flight gourmet meals for their Premium Economy passengers. 

Lufthansa

lufthansa

Unlike the other airlines in Europe, Lufthansa doesn’t include priority check-in for Premium Economy passengers. Although for an additional fee, passengers can get lounge access at most airports on top of their Welcome Lounge in Frankfurt. 

The in-flight meals for Premium Economy at Lufthansa are also upgraded similar to the Business class, served with non-disposable dishes and cutlery. However, unlike Premium Economy at other airlines, Lufthansa has the same policy for hand-carry onboard with their standard Economy. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Question: Does British Airlines Premium Economy get lounge access? 

Answer: No. However, you can get free lounge access with British Airlines Premium Economy if you’re a passenger with the following condition: 

  • You’re a British Airways Exclusive Club member with Silver Status or above. 
  • You’re a OneWorld Alliance member with Sapphire Status or above. 

Question: How much does it cost to upgrade to British Airways Premium Economy? 

Answer: You can upgrade to British Airways Premium Economy using cash or Avios points. The cost to upgrade to Premium Economy may vary, depending on the route and availability. However, an upgrade is not available for the lowest World Traveller fare. 

Question: Do British Airways Premium Economy seats lie flat? 

Answer: No. Lie-flat seats are only available in British Airways Business and First Class. However, British Airways Premium Economy offers wider seats with greater recliner and lumbar support with extra leg room to stretch out.

British Airways Premium Economy have the same seat width as their Business Class for around 18.5 inches, which is also reclinable for up to 38 inches with moveable armrests on both sides. 

Question: How do I upgrade my seats on British Airways? 

Answer: With an extra fee, you can upgrade your seats on British Airways through their official website. Log into your account and go to “Manage My Booking” to modify your booking and upgrade. 

The fee for the upgraded seat on British Airways flights will consist of the following: 

  • a cash amount for the flight
  • Avios points needed for the upgrade
  • Taxes, fees, and carrier charges may apply

Depending on availability, you can also upgrade your seats using your Avios points. Unfortunately, the lowest British Airways Economy fares (World Traveller) are not eligible to upgrade using your Avios points. 

Question: Who can use British Airways priority check-in? 

Answer: Business and First Class passengers are eligible for priority check-in whenever and wherever you fly with British Airways. In London airports, Premium Economy passengers also have priority check-in counters. 

Conclusions

British Airways Premium Economy offers top-notch on-ground and in-flight experience compared to the regular Economy class. Although I think not all Premium Economy is worth the extra cost compared to the Economy. 

While the spacious seat and extra legroom sound convenient for a flight, it’s not worth paying almost 50% extra from the regular Economy price if you only fly a short-haul flight with British Airways. Personally, Premium Economy is only worth it if I fly for flights longer than 10 hours. I don’t have any issues with longer legs, so extra legroom isn’t necessary for me during the flights.

However, as I’m not a light traveler, the additional baggage allowance makes it worth paying extra since it will be more costly to pay for the excess baggage on standard Economy flights. British Airways Premium Economy also brings value to the in-flight experience since the Business Class menu is far better than the Economy, especially if you’re a picky eater like me!

Booking a Premium Economy is also worth the price if you’re looking into collecting Avios points through your flight since it can double your point earnings compared to the standard Economy.