British Airways premium economy review: A350-1000 London to Dubai

British Airways premium economy review: A350-1000 London to Dubai

Flying British Airways premium economy (World Traveler Plus) has been a long time goal of mine, and I’ve been scouring the interwebs for years trying to find a cost-effective opportunity to make it happen – which isn’t easy on BA.

Long story short, I finally stumbled across a great deal on their A350-1000 (BA017), and I jumped on it as fast as I could. So – for the second time in three weeks, here we go with another SANspotter review of a flight departing London for parts unknown.

Well, the place I’m headed isn’t exactly uncharted territory or anything, but I like the way that sounds so I’m not going back and editing it. Sorry.

London, England (LHR) – Dubai, UAE (DXB)
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Aircraft: A350-1041
Registration: G-XWBA
Duration: 6 hours 18 minutes
Seat: 24A (World Traveler Plus / premium economy)

British Airways A350-1000 side view
British Airways A350-1000 side view illustration by
LHR-DXB flight track
Our route from LHR to DXB this afternoon

The video

Since I’m still a bit behind on my written reviews, chances are pretty good that you’ve already seen the video I created for BA107. Well, only if you aren’t royally annoyed by my editing style and quit watching my videos long ago that is.

The music in this video comes from Epidemic Sound, a service I recommend for YouTubers of all genres. If you want to learn more, I’d recommend reading the full review I wrote about it several months ago. I’ve listed out all the pros and cons, and I hope it’ll help you make an informed decision about whether or not it’s a service that’s right for you!

Arriving at LHR for my first ever British Airways premium economy experience

So yeah. I’m in London again! Terminal 5 at LHR to be exact, and I’m just 2 hours away from checking out the new British Airways A350 on a 6 and a half hour flight down to Dubai.

LHR Heathrow express
Arriving fresh off the train and ready for anything. Exactly the kind of attitude required before any long distance air travel experience IMHO.
Swiss gear carry on
Accompanying me today is my trusty new Swiss Gear carry on. I wrote an entire blog post about this dang bag (outlining all the reasons I bought it), so I do recommend reading it if you’re searching for a slick and stylish new travel buddy of your own.
LHR Terminal 5 British Airways check in
Considering that I crashed an entire row of kiosks trying to check in for my Air New Zealand flight to LAX several weeks ago…do I even dare?
LHR T5 check in
FYI, I used the mobile app to check in for BA107, thus saving all those innocent kiosks from the full wrath of SANspotter’s deadly touch.

Today I’m flying in world traveler plus, which, is the fancy name for the British Airways premium economy product.

And yes. I spent the entirety of my pre-flight time trying to learning how to say that with a thick British accent. And no, it didn’t go well, so that’s why you didn’t get to hear it in the video.

Inside Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport

Terminal 5 here at LHR is incredibly impressive with it’s glass architecture and high ceilings. It’s also slightly annoying because of how crowded and loud it can be. There are very few places to find peace and quiet in the main building.

LHR Terminal 5 crowds
Just another typical day in Terminal 5. I’m sooo tempted to count how many people are in this pic, but I gotta keep moving with this review…
Terminal 5 LHR
I’ll bet anything that every person in this pic is thinking “God I wish I could find a place to sit…”
Sanspotter selfie Heathrow airport
Good news: the seats behind gate 22 are usually open. Bad news: you’re gonna get cooked through the glass by the sun.
LHR Terminal 5 train
They posted the gate info just 20 minutes before boarding was scheduled to commence. Of course it ended up being a gate 25 minutes away.

Of all the times I’ve flown in and out of London over the years, I do believe this is the only time I’ve done it under clear blue skies. It was perfect weather for plane spotting.

British Airways a350-1000
Speaking of barely being able to spot planes far in the distance…this is the A350 taking me down to Dubai this afternoon as BA107.
Gate c61 Heathrow airport
My departure gate for this British Airways premium economy review is C61 (which, as you’ve already learned, is exactly 25 minutes from the security checkpoint back in concourse A).
LHR Airport US passport
FYI, taking a pic of your boarding pass and passport directly in front of the gate podium does *not* put any extra pressure on the gate agents to start boarding the flight early.

Boarding BA107 to Dubai

Passengers holding a World Traveler Plus boarding pass get to board in group 3. A somewhat awkward group number teetering right on the edge between “spectacularly special” and “nauseatingly normal”.

However, once they finished boarding groups 1 and 2, it seemed as if half the plane was loaded and I wasn’t feeling special anymore. Story of my life really.

LHR jet bridge
They seem awfully overdressed for a trip to Dubai. Just sayin’.

Can I just say that gate C61 here at LHR is the longest in the world? It sure felt like it.

British Airways flight to Dubai
It felt like I had been been walking for miles, so I really appreciated this sign reconfirming that Iwas indeed walking in the right direction.
British Airways a350 boarding door
Approaching the boarding door here, and I’m still teetering on the edge of feeling “special” and “normal”.

British Airways premium economy: first impressions

It’s important to keep in mind that my only two British Airways experiences up until this point have been in Club World (business class) on both the 777-200 and 747-400. World Traveler Plus was a completely new concept for me at this exact moment.

British Airways a350-1000 premium economy
British Airways premium economy! My first thought was that it wasn’t as visually appealing as QANTAS 787-9 premium economy, but that’s just my opinion (and you know how sketchy that can be).
British Airways premium economy seats
Well, ok. That settles it. It took all of 3 seconds to push myself over to the “special” side of the spectrum once I saw these large and spacious premium economy seats. British Airways vs American Airlines (or any other airline) is an easy choice when it comes to premium economy.
British Airways premium economy seats a350
Seats 24A and B. I would’ve like to have claimed them both as my own, but I had to settle for just one (the window).
British Airways premium economy swag
On every seat was a pillow, blanket, and amenity kit.
British Airways premium economy leg room
Leg room here in British Airways premium economy is pretty good. And it dang well better be, right?

If you’ve ever wondered what kind of amenities you get in World Traveler Plus here on British Airways (more particularly for BA107), here it is packaged in one compact (and convenient) bundle:

British Airways premium economy amenities
Looks to be noise canceling headphones and an amenity kit, wrapped in a crinkly-plastic bag that made a LOT of noise when handled. Imagine an entire cabin filled with the sound of people trying to open bags potato chips…

It’s worth noting that noise cancelling headphones aren’t always a guarantee when flying long haul premium economy these days (for example, I only got cheap ear buds when I flew Lufthansa long haul premium economy). It’s nice to see British Airways being one of the airlines that provides them. 

British Airways a350 entertainment system remote
Trying to get a pic of the entertainment system remote without it looking like I’m trying to get a pic of my seat mate’s legs.
British Airways a350 premium economy power outlets
Oh, you want power to charge your devices? Since it would have been far too convenient to put those ports near the video screen, they put them down (way down) between the seats.
British Airways premium economy water bottle holder
There was also this “thing”, which I assumed fo be a water bottle holder. Kind of handy if that’s what it’s actually for!

Overall I was quite impressed with the look of World Traveler Plus here on the A350. Colors are a bit muted in typical British Airways style, and pretty much the polar opposite of the visceral slap in the face I got when stepping onboard the Virgin Atlantic A350-1000.

British Airways a350 interior
Pretty much the polar opposite of the strip-club vibe on Virgin Atlantic’s A350, but…this is exactly what I was expecting.
British Airways a350 world traveler plus
I guess it’s probably a good idea to have at least one British airline that the Queen feels comfortable on, right? Whether or not she prefers British Airways or Virgin Atlantic is something we’ll never know…
Sanspotter selfie British Airways
Great. Now I can’t stop wondering if the Queen is into strip club vibes or not…

The cabin crew came by with menus just as I was bent over filming the recliner button of my seat, which was an awkward moment. Even more awkward, in fact, than trying to open the menu with one hand. Graceful and suave I am not.

British Airways premium economy menu
The menu, showing the two choices we’ve been faced with since 1919: chicken or beef?

Good news and bad news just before departure

Not unexpectedly, the captain had good news and bad news for us as we were pushing off the gate.

The good news: BA107 is ready for departure and we’re pushing off the gate now.

The bad news: We’re gonna go sit in the taxiway for 45 minutes to wait for an open departure slot. I’ll spare you any footage of that and keep this part as brief as possible.

British Airways 747
It was right about this moment where the captain informed us of the impending 45-minute wait. Not even the sight of a 747 at point blank range could make me feel better after hearing news like that.
British Airways a350-1000 safety card
I guess I’ve got no excuse not to look at the safety card now, do I?

Thankfully that 45 minute wait was whittled down to just 20 minutes, and I couldn’t help but wonder how the captain was able to negotiate that. No matter how he did it, it earned a coveted double fist bump from me.

British Airways a350-1000 takeoff
Some pics of the departure sequence. But wait! Before you blast me for not showing more, do have a look at the full departure video below:

What’s the cabin service like?

Since I was fully expecting food (and lots of it) to be coming soon, I figured now was as good opportunity to peck at the video entertainment system. As you can see (below), it’s a really clean looking user interface. I liked having the flight information right on the main screen, which can easily be dismissed to get into the movie and tv catalog.

British Airways a350 premium economy video screen
The main screen on the video entertainment system. Looks nice with loads of valuable information…but you know I’m headed straight for the moving map, right?

Ok. You wanna know what my biggest gripe bout these World Traveler Plus seats are? It’s the USB and electrical outlets located in the darkness down in between the seats (remember that upside down pic I showed earlier?).

British Airways premium economy leg rest
Speaking of in between the seat action…there’s also a leg rest, which didn’t feel particularly comfortable.

Since I’m complaining about stuff, I might as well voice my displeasure about the sour cream and chive pretzels they tossed at us. It wasn’t really what I was in the mood for.

British Airways premium economy snack
Cabernet Sauvignon and sour cream & chive pretzels. Do I know how to pair wine with with food, or what?

Oops. I was actually so excited to be on the A350 (and BA107) that I completely forgot to take the amenity kit out of the package earlier. It’s not like there’s much to show anyway, since it was a typical amenity kit fit filled with the usual stuff that I always give away to friends and family.

British Airways premium economy amenity kit
Do I even need to open it? I think we all know what’s inside anyway.
British Airways a350 winglet
When’s the last time you saw Jaws?

The first meal service

It’s been a while since I’ve flown a premium airline product, so it’s not hard to understand why I was feeling especially…special….as I peeled back the cover of my meal.

British Airways premium economy food
British Airways premium economy food! I certainly wasn’t expecting real plates.

My initial impression? I thought it looked really good. And the fact that it was served on *real* dish ware that klinked and clacked whenever I touched it with the fork was a huge plus.

British Airways premium economy meal
Yup. I’d eat that. (And I did).
Sanspotter selfie British Airways world Traveler Plus
Just a little preview of what you’ll look like eating in British Airways premium economy.
Bring Airways premium economy seat recline
If you’re curious, this is what seat recline is like here in World Traveler Plus. Not only is it on par with what you would get in Air France A350-900 premium economy, it’ll smash the food on the tray behind you real good!

Fast forward 30 minutes, and I’ve got to say that was easily one of the best airline meals I’ve had in a good long time. I’m just so glad that the person in front of me was respectful enough not to fully recline as I was eating.

Stuff that happened before the next meal service

Is there nothing more amazing than flying off into the sunset towards a place that’s *nothing* like your own culture back home? Flight BA107 is a special one indeed.

A350-1000 wing
Maybe what I said at the beginning of this video is true? The Middle East definitely qualifies as “parts unknown” in my mind, and I’m feeling excited as all heck to see Dubai again.
British Airways world Traveler Plus seats a350
Yup. I’m *still* watching the map.
British Airways a350 lavatory
Quite possibly the nicest airplane lavatory colors I’ve seen since my Hawaiian Airlines A321neo segment from SAN to OGG last year!

Since I couldn’t think of anything witty and creative to do in the loo this time (eeew), I’d like to take this opportunity to five you my thoughts on the British Airways A350 economy class product:

British Airways a350-1000 economy class cabin
The big video screens look nice, but…wow do those seats ever look narrow.

The second meal service

Not that I’m complaining or anything, but what is it with pizza being the default pre-landing meal served on all flights to and from the Middle East? BA107 is no different from the rest.

A350 wing sunset
A brief look out the window as I wait for the flight attendants to reach my row, and…I smell pizza.
British Airways premium economy pre landing snack
Why was I not surprised to be handed a box of something pizza-ish? I experienced the same thing in Qatar Airways 777-300ER economy recently.

As I ripped open the cover, I couldn’t help but to have flashbacks to the pizza they used to serve in elementary school. Isn’t it funny how (after all these years) that disgusting elementary school pizza is still how I guage the quality of all pizza today?

British Airways world Traveler Plus snack
Yes. A pile of napkins was absolutely necessary.
Sanspotter selfie British Airways world Traveler Plus
Elementary school flashbacks like a mofo! Astonishingly enough, this was still a lot better than the food I ate in ANA 777-300ER premium economy.

The descent and landing into Dubai

Less than an hour to go now, and…would it kill them to dim the cabin lights a bit? Oh well.

Cabin lights on
It was right about this point where I was feeling awfully tempted to get up and find the light switch. Call me a bat (or a vampire) if you will, but…I prefer a dark cabin thank you very much.

The glaring lights didn’t exactly ruin this World Traveler Plus experience for me, though I was hoping to spend the second half of BA107 bathing in deep blue British Airways mood lighting.

British Airways world Traveler Plus cabin
Less than 2 minutes after feeling strong vampire-like urges, they finally dimmed the lights. #winning

Our approach and landing into Dubai would have been a lot more amazing if it were daytime still, but it still felt really good to see this place once again. DXB is easily one of the most amazing airports in all the world, and it was unfortunate that I couldn’t see any of it when we arrived.

There is some brief footage of our arrival in the video, so do be sure to check that out if you’re feeling like you just gotta see it.

Thanks for coming along with me on this British Airways A350 (BA107) down to Dubai tonight, and I hope I’ve given you a pretty good sense of what this premium economy product is all about.

British Airways A350-1000 premium economy FAQs:

Since the British Airways A350 is such a hot new product at the moment, I thought that it might be beneficial to end this with a FAQ about this premium economy product.

Is it worth paying for premium economy over regular economy?

Yes – especially on any flight over 4 hours since you’ll get a full meal served at a relaxed and professional pace. It’s also enough time to fully enjoy the added recline of these seats. Which leads me directly to the next question:

Do British Airways premium economy seats on the A350 recline more than standard economy seats?

Yes. Quite a bit more actually. While not completely lie-flat (or angle-flat), they will recline far enough to be a massive nuisance to the person behind you if they are eating or working.

Is there direct aisle access from every seat in the premium economy cabin?

No. The World Traveler Plus configuration on the A350-1000 is 2-4-2, and seat pitch isn’t generous enough to be able to access the aisle from an interior seat. Those seated at the window or in the middle of the center section will have to ask the person next to them to move. However, I suppose you could crawl over that person if you’re really good at talking your way out of awkward situations.

What’s it like to sleep in British Airways premium economy?

For short(ish) flights such as London to Dubai, I’d say that it’s perfect for sleeping. For longer flights (where you’d want a full nights sleep after the meal service), the limited recline of these seats (compared to business class) will make deep sleep difficult. Note, however, that the blankets and pillows they provide are of very good quality.

Is the food in premium economy better than business class?

In my personal experience, yes. I’ve flown BA business class (Club World) several times (most recently from San Diego to London), and the food I got here in premium economy / World Traveler Plus was far better in my opinion. I do need to emphasize that my latest Club World experience was several years ago, so maybe things have changed since then. All I know is that I was extremely impressed with the first meal service on this particular flight in regards to both quality and quantity.

How do these premium economy seats compare to Virgin Atlantic premium economy seats?

As I mentioned in my British Airways vs Virgin Atlantic comparison, I slightly prefer the Virgin Atlantic premium economy seat because of how stylish it is. The BA premium economy seat is perfectly fine, but good looks are important! Functionally, both seats are the same.

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