Why British Airways Premium Economy Is Rubbish Compared To Virgin!


I compared British Airways Premium Economy Vs Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy last year. I actually love flying British Airways around Europe and you can read my British Airways Club Europe flight reviews for a run down of my thoughts, but their international Premium Economy product falls short of Virgin’s offering and here’s why.

Both these Premium Economy products and seats are better than those you will experience when flying in Economy but are worse than the experience of flying in Business Class (obviously!). You can also compare these airlines by reading my Virgin Premium Economy flight reviews vs my detailed British Airways Premium Economy flight reviews.

Why Is British Airways Premium Economy Worse?

Virgin enables you to select your Premium Economy seat for free. A feature that British Airways reserves for its Gold and Silver tier members only.

Virgin offers a special Premium Economy check-in desk. On BA you have to check-in with coach passengers.

Virgin offers priority boarding all over the world for Premium Economy passengers, BA only offers priority boarding out of Heathrow.

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy is supposed to be 2.5 inches wider seat than British Airways (according to published figures) although real-life experiences suggest that the two seats feel like they are a similar width.

Virgin Atlantic offers priority baggage handling to Premium passengers, British Airways doesn’t.

Virgin Atlantic has dedicated cabin crew for the Premium cabin. This is not the case on British Airways

What About the Brand New BA Premium Economy?

If you’ve not heard, British Airways is launching a new version of it’s World Traveller Plus. Starting on 1st February there will be new food options. Later in the Spring, there will be new soft furnishings and a brand new amenity kit. For exclusive pictures of the food in particular, visit our friends at Head For Points.

British Airways is currently rolling out newest World Traveller Plus seats, which are being installed on the Boeing 777-200 fleet. They also have another version of the new seats on their A380, B787 and B773. The new 777 seat (pictured above) offers a leg rest, whereas those older “new” PE seats on the B787 do not offer a leg rest.

It is worth noting that reviews of the new seat have not always been positive suggesting that the new seat is harder than the old one. The new food will, however, be an improvement on the current British Airways offering. Overall, British Airways Premium Economy remains worse than Virgin.

Why Would Anyone Book British Airways Premium Economy?

Good question given the inferior product! There are a number of reasons why a traveller would think it is worth flying BA in Premium Economy. Firstly, British Airways has a huge network of routes, Virgin has a very limited selection of routes so Virgin may not fly where you want to go.

Next, if you only collect Avios miles and not Virgin miles it makes sense to redeem these miles for a flight simply because of your mileage balance. You might also have a British Airways 2-4-1 voucher from your BA Credit card, therefore, making it significantly cheaper to fly with British Airways on miles (see more details about getting hold of these vouchers below).

You might instead want to use your flight to increase your status with British Airways. If you are about to hit Gold Level, for example, it may make sense to choose British Airways instead of Virgin.

You might want to book and pay for your British Airways flight in Premium Economy and then upgrade with miles to Business Class afterwards, which only costs 20,000 each way from London to New York plus the difference in taxes which is around £100 for each leg.

How I Fly On British Airways For Free

I fly on British Airways Avios for free accrued on by my FREE Amex Gold Card. Contact me for a referral which will get you 22,000 Amex bonus points, 2,000 more than the usual offering (when you spend 2,000GBP in your first three months).

I convert my American Express Rewards directly to airline miles so that I can fly about exclusively on these.

The UK British Airways Amex Card is also a great way to collect Avios. You will receive 26,000 Avios if you spend 3,000 GBP in their first three months on the Premium card and a 2-4-1 free flight after spending 10k GBP. Our referral gets 1,000 more than the usual 25,000 Avios bonus and you can apply for this at the same time as the Gold card these cards are unrelated in Amex’s eyes.

If you are US based and need points, a brilliant way to load up on a massive bonus of points is outlined in our easy guide.

Is British Airways Premium Economy Rubbish?

In conclusion, British Airways Premium Economy is not rubbish. Quite frankly, if you can afford to travel anything above Economy then you are fortunate. It does remain a less appealing offering to Virgin most of the time, but given the diversity of destinations that British Airways fly to, Virgin isn’t always practical!

Let’s not forget that one of the best Premium Economy seats in the sky is in fact on low-cost carrier Norwegian Airlines. It’s better than Virgin and British Airways so bear this in mind next time you fly transatlantic.

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Reviews within this content are solely the opinion of the author and have not been sponsored, influenced, or reviewed by American Express.