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Comparison: BA World Traveller Plus vs Virgin Premium Econ

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Comparison: BA World Traveller Plus vs Virgin Premium Econ

COMPARISON – British Airways World Traveller Plus versus Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy

For anyone thinking of travelling either British Airways World Traveller Plus (BA WTP) or Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy (Virgin PE), I’ve drawn up a quick reference comparison table – the information is from the respective airline’s websites and my recent experience of both products. Greater detail is given below the table.

(Can’t seem to post the table so have broken it down into a list instead.)

Dedicated check-in desk

WTP – No

PE – Yes

Checked baggage allowance

WTP – 2 x 23kg

PE – 2 x 23kg

Priority baggage

WTP – No

PE – Yes

Priority boarding

WTP – No (in fact WTP is very last group to board)

PE – Yes

Seat pitch

WTP – BA website does not specify but SeatGuru says 38”

PE – 38”

Cabin layout

WTP – on 777, 2-4-2, 3 or 5 rows

PE – on 747, 2-2 upstairs and 2-4-2 downstairs; 2-3-2 on A340 and A330

Dedicated toilets

WTP – No. On 777, where 3 rows WTP, toilets are in middle of Economy cabin; where 5 rows, toilets are in Economy cabin but immediately behind WTP

PE – depends on aircraft and configuration

Entertainment (IFE)

WTP – varies according to aircraft

PE – varies according to aircraft

Dedicated cabin crew

WTP – No

PE – Yes

Pre-departure drink

WTP – No

PE – Yes

Different meal to Economy

WTP – Yes; to/from LHR and LGW, not clear for other routes

PE – Yes

Food extras

WTP – No

In our experience:

One drinks run on 8½ hour flight, then a few water/juice runs during flight

One drinks run on 7½ hour flight, no water/juice runs

PE - Yes

Help-yourself fresh fruit

More food on the tray (eg cheese and biscuits)

Ice cream (all classes, not just WTP)

Other snacks (sweet and savoury) offered during flight

In our experience:

Drinks readily available – crew either do drinks runs (offering water/juice or actually asking what you want) or you could go to galley any time

Bottle of water provided

WTP – No

PE – Yes

Reading material

WTP – No (except BA in-flight magazine)

PE – Yes; newspapers and magazines as you board, newspapers offered onboard

Extra mileage points

WTP – 25%

PE – 125-150%

I have flown Virgin PE numerous times and have just completed my 4th transatlantic flight in BA WTP.

I am not impressed with BA WTP. It is not a good product, especially when compared to Virgin PE, even though it is a similar cost and is marketed as being comparable. In reality, a more accurate comparison would be with United Airlines Economy Plus, ie just extra legroom. Unlike Virgin, there is no separate check-in desk, no priority boarding (in fact, just the opposite!), no priority luggage, no dedicated cabin crew and no pre-departure drink.

The BA website says WTP is, “given priority when leaving the aircraft”. Personally I do not believe this is a specific benefit for WTP but simply a result of WTP being located between Business and Economy. What the website does not tell you is that BA’s policy is to board by row number from the rear forward which makes perfect sense but means that WTP boards last of all, which doesn’t quite fit with the idea of a premium product.

Despite the BA website mentioning a complimentary newspaper, none were offered at all on my 2 recent WTP flights. The “complimentary bar service … throughout your journey” consisted of one drinks run and I was only given one small can of soda. Other than wine, no drinks were offered with the meal. Some water/juice runs were made on one flight, none on the other. Bottles of water were not provided. I saw no evidence whatsoever of the advertised “snacks”; and I think the “3-course meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner” is a figment of the BA marketing people’s imagination, certainly where my special meal (fruit platter) was concerned.

By comparison, on my most recent flight in Virgin PE, by the time I took my seat I had been given 2 newspapers, a Hello magazine and a bottle of water. Before departure I had been offered sparkling wine, orange juice or a mixture of the two, and more newspapers. Drinks were offered regularly, by the dedicated cabin crew who came around and asked as well as being available in the galley, and who always gave 2 of the small soda cans. A full bar service was offered with the main meal; there was an ice cream run and several water/juice runs; a fruit bowl was available to help yourself from; and other snacks were offered during the flight (including hot savoury snacks). The meal was the usual appalling airline food but there was more of it, including cheese and biscuits, so more chance of finding something vaguely edible.

I think the seats and legroom are comparable, although Virgin PE upstairs on a 747 wins hands-down every time. Unfortunately the exclusivity of the 747 ‘bubble’ is being phased out with the current refitting of Virgin’s Gatwick/Manchester 747 fleet. I have not yet flown in the new ‘purple’ Virgin PE seats, nor have I travelled in the new WTP cabin. The IFE varies from aircraft to aircraft with both airlines.

Given a choice, I would always choose Virgin PE over BA WTP. It is a much superior product, distinctively different from Economy, and far better value for money. BA should either improve their WTP product to bring it in line with Virgin PE or re-brand it as extra legroom only and reduce the cost accordingly.

However, Virgin’s routes are far more limited than BA. I do not want to travel Economy and cannot often afford Business, so BA WTP is sometimes my only option. No doubt this effective monopoly is why BA can get away with providing an inferior product at an inflated cost.

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1. Re: Comparison: BA World Traveller Plus vs Virgin Premium Econ

BA should either improve their WTP product to bring it in line with Virgin PE ...


They are in fact doing this right now, there is an ongoing fleet upgrade rolling out, the first few planes in service already.

IME VIrgin was preferable when it was in the upper deck of the 747 but that's going away and the last two times I flew Virgin PE it was pretty tatty, and now from recent reports its got worse (I dont fly them any more) especially the IFE which pretty consistently gets very bad reviews in terms of reliability.

Whilst I used to think that BA really missed out by not providing a seperate checkin for WTP, in these days of online checkin and bag drop its an irrelevance at LHR and LGW, however it would be appreciated at foreign airports.

As for lack of drinks, you can always ring the bell or just go to the galley, what I've found is that its very variable, sometimes they seem to come round every hour, other times you dont see anyone at all. I've seen complaints on Virgin about this as well

One of the several reasons I stopped flying Virgin was that I found their FF program didnt work well for me. With BA I buy WTP and then use miles to upgrade to CW, I know you can do the same with Virgin but it just never seemed to work well in terns of availability whereas with BA so far I've pretty much always been able to get flights with availability (I do have a lot of flexibility in terms of dates and time though) , and the Virgin part points part miles scheme was lousy value (though to be fair, so is the equivalent for BA economy class also, in fact its utter rubbish :-)

I do think Virgins product, when the IFE is working and the seats not falling to bits, is in general slightly better but the new BA rollout will equalise that. I've also found upgrades to CW more forthcoming on BA WTP than VIrgin PE, though that could just be luck of the draw.

Finally I dont think your comment that BA have an effective monopoly on some routes is why they "have an inflated price", IME you'll find prices almost identical between comparable routes where there is and isnt competition, for example two Caribbean islands where BA flies only to one and both to the other, or two nearby North American cities.

Edited: 9:53 am, June 21, 2012
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2. Re: Comparison: BA World Traveller Plus vs Virgin Premium Econ

Thanks for preparing this comparison but where service is concerned it depends on the stewards and stewardess's that you get on the day, some are more active than others with drinks etc, but I would fly with either depending on price/schedule.

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3. Re: Comparison: BA World Traveller Plus vs Virgin Premium Econ

Nice comparison tigger -

Don't fly P.E myself but have flown economy in both VS & B.A and prefer VS 'down the back'

Also flown Upper Class & Club World and would choose Club World over Upper Class...... Just - but have to admit I do like the VS Clubhouse at LHR!


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4. Re: Comparison: BA World Traveller Plus vs Virgin Premium Econ

The WT+ cabin in BA's747s has its own washroom, behind the last row of seats in the cabin. Boarding tends to be last because the WT+ cabin is near the front of the plane, between doors 1L and 2L on the 52J 747s. Since the cabin has no more than 36 seats ensuring there is room for one's bags in the overhead lockers is not usually a problem.

I've always been offered a newspaper when flying in WT+. Main meal service now includes hot towels and menus before trays are delivered; a choice of two Club World mains has been on offer since October last year. Again in my experience - and crew diligence may vary - drinks runs are made every 30 - 45 minutes after lights out on long flights. A tuck box for WT+ pax has reappeared in the galley as well, a nice addition.

BA and VS have designed their services to appeal to different types of pax. I don't think either is 'better' than the other, as those who like the VS product will like PE; those who are fans of BA will like WT+. A bit of competition is good for the market, or it should be, and so I hope that both airlines will try to improve their products to make them more desirable to those pax who are familiar with the airlines and those looking for a new way to fly.

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5. Re: Comparison: BA World Traveller Plus vs Virgin Premium Econ


A couple glaring errors in your facts.

There are dedicated check-in desks for WTP at the newly refurbished London Gatwick North Terminal. I've used them already.

There is also priority boarding which I myself have experienced from London Gatwick. First, then Club, then WTP, then WT.

BA does NOT serve different meals to economy in WTP flights from LGW. It's only from LHR. They however offer hot towels from both LGW and LHR.

Reading Materials? Yes, BA provides newspapers for WTP customers from both LHR and LGW. I experienced this as recently as two weeks ago.

BA and VS are different airlines. Virgin only has 14 Upper Class seats, therefore, they can afford to have dedicated crew and pre flight drinks for PE pax. BA has 14 First + 48 Club World which is equivalent to Virgin's Upper Class... so that's 62 premium seats alone on a 4-class 777 for example. Even more on a 747. Different strategies are employed by each airline.

BA's focus has always been on the business travel market and that's where it will continue to be. Hence the massive investments thus far.


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6. Re: Comparison: BA World Traveller Plus vs Virgin Premium Econ

Just want to say thanks to OP for this comparison as I had always wanted such information.Looks a no-brainer to me when thinking of flying the same route.Although the last time I flew carriage on VS from MCO to LGW the B747 was nearly as old as I am and looking just as worn.

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7. Re: Comparison: BA World Traveller Plus vs Virgin Premium Econ

As clearly stated, this comparison was based on information from the airlines websites and MY recent experiences of both products. My recent experience, on 2 different flights and routes, was obviously different to other people's experiences. I was unfortunate not to receive the service, on either flight or route, that others have enjoyed. It would seem that crew diligence does vary considerably.

As for the glaring errors pointed out by BGIWorldTraveller. My experience was from LHR T5, where there are no dedicated WTP check-in desks - my apologies, I should not have assumed this would be the same elsewhere. Similarly with priority boarding which, in my experience, did not happen at LHR or ORD. And whilst you may have been provided with reading materials, I was not, on either flight. Not glaring errors on my part, simply statements of fact.

The information about different meals from LHR and LGW was taken from BA's website, where it clearly states, "On flights into and out of London Heathrow and London Gatwick, your choice of main course comes from the business class Club World menu". So if that is a glaring error then it's one of BA's making.

I don't consider myself any particular "type of pax". I'm an individual who needs to get from A to B, and who travels with a variety of different carriers in order to do so, not just BA and Virgin. But when I choose and pay for any product, flight or otherwise, I like to get what the seller has advertised to me, not what they feel like giving me on the day.

I offered this comparison thinking it may help fellow travellers. And it is always interesting to read of other people's experiences and opinions. But it would be nice if people would do just that rather than criticise anyone who holds a different opinion or has had a different experience!

Edited: 10:00 am, June 22, 2012
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8. Re: Comparison: BA World Traveller Plus vs Virgin Premium Econ


Thank you, much appreciated.

I know what you mean about the 747s, definitely a bit scruffy. I believe they are in the process of being refitted though, which is good because I was afraid they'd be leaving the fleet and do love the 747 as a design.

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9. Re: Comparison: BA World Traveller Plus vs Virgin Premium Econ

'BA does NOT serve different meals to economy in WTP flights from LGW. It's only from LHR'

Sorry that is incorrect - the glaring error in this case is not from the OP.. From 1st June the LGW meal offering in WT+ should include a Club World entree.

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10. Re: Comparison: BA World Traveller Plus vs Virgin Premium Econ

For me the biggest advantage of flying WT+ with BA is that you usually earn nearly enough Avios on a return flight to upgrade your next WT+ to CW, which is truely a different world.

Additionally flying WT+ a few times a year also usually gets you a shiny Silver EC card which leads to a lot of the perks the OP missed from the BA product such as priority check in and priority boarding as well as lounge access.

And of course, flying from LHR with BA also means the pleasures of T5 which I'd take over T3 anyday.