When flying on British Airways or BA, is it worth paying to upgrade to Premium Economy from Economy seats on long-haul flights?
Economy vs. Premium Economy: Price
If the price is your biggest factor when making the decision on which class to fly in, you should probably choose to fly Economy. After all, the entire plane will get to its destination, whichever class you are sitting in.
Having said that, particularly for overnight flights, being stuffed in a sardine-tin, with little space to move and next-to-no recline, means that sleep is difficult. Certainly, when I have flown in Economy, I find, if I do manage to nod off, the fact that my head then droops to one side because of the lack of seat recline means that I almost always wake myself up.
The result is that you can feel pretty grotty after an Economy flight when you get to your destination. This means that you are potentially ruining the first day of your trip because you have not spent the extra on upgrading your flight.
So even if the price IS your biggest factor, Premium Economy can mean that you avoid wasting a day of your holiday, which may ultimately be worth more than the price difference.
Economy vs. Premium Economy: Check-in
There is not a dedicated British Airways Premium Economy check-in.
Economy vs. Premium Economy: Baggage
You get 2 hold suitcases when traveling in Premium Economy, which is a big bonus.
Economy vs. Premium Economy: Lounges
When flying in Premium Economy, you do not get access to any British Airways lounges. Still, if you are flying out of London Heathrow, you can use your Priority Pass or pay to access to the Aspire Lounge In Heathrow Terminal 5 or the Aspire Lounge in Terminal 3.
You can access airport Lounges for free with the free (in the first year) American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card, which comes with two Lounge Club passes that could be immediately used at the No 1 Lounge or at the Grain Cafe for £30 GBP of free drinks (including alcohol) and food.
The American Express® Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card offers 12,000 bonus* points when you apply, are approved, and spend £3,000 GBP in your first three months of card membership. You also get two Lounge Club passes. To get the full 12,000 points, you must apply through a referral link (contact us if you would like me to refer you via our Luxury Travel Concierge page). If you apply without a referral, you only get 10,000 points.
Economy vs. Premium Economy: Space
When flying in the Premium Economy seat, you get a wider seat with additional pitch. For me, the extra elbow room in the Premium Economy seats enables me to work more comfortably on my laptop.
The extra recline also enables me to sleep for a short period, a crucial reason to choose to fly Premium Economy.
Economy vs. Premium Economy: Food & Drink
A big bonus of traveling on BA in Premium Economy is that you get ClubWorld standard meals (with fewer choices) served on proper crockery with a real napkin.
You also usually get a welcome drink and another round of drinks with the meal, along with tea and coffee during/after the meal.
Depending on the flight’s length, if it is overnight, you sometimes get breakfast served, although I believe that this is the same as in Economy. On shorter flights, you just get a drink and a mars bar (or similar).
Just like dinner, the food is decent, but nothing spectacular.
Economy vs. Premium Economy: Conclusion
I would say that the British Airways Premium Economy is a good product and worth paying the extra if you can afford it. I have flown in Premium Economy and would not hesitate to fly it again.
Read my more detailed reviews of BA in Premium Economy for more information on this product. I have also compared British Airways vs. Virgin Atlantic’s Premium Economy.
*The bonus is only available to customers who have not held a personal American Express card, which issues Membership Rewards points in the previous 24 months. This would include Green, Gold, Platinum, and the American Express Rewards credit card.
You are OK if you currently or recently only had a British Airways, Starwood, Costco, or Nectar American Express card. But you must not have held a card offering Membership Rewards points.
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