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British Airways Premium Economy Review Shanghai to London – Boeing 777-300 – BA168 World Traveller Plus

27th May 2014
British Airways Flight 168
Depart : Shanghai (PVG)
Arrive : London (LHR)
Departure time : 11:00am (Actual 11:07am)
Arrival Time : 16:15pm (Actual 16:47pm)
Boeing 777-300ER
Seat : 25K
Flight Time : 12 Hours 30 Minutes
Meal Service : Lunch & Afternoon Tea

Full Video Trip Report


After almost four months in Asia today we would be heading to England. We had booked our outbound flight with British Airways as an open jaw ticket with a return from Shanghai. We wanted to relax on our return flight so we upgraded our class of service from Economy to Premium Economy, Sadly Club world was a tad bit more. We paid about $300 USD each to move up into the next class of service, which was fairly reasonable for a 12 hour flight.

I will mention that I made sure that our Aircraft on the route was a new one. At the time of writing this (Jan 2015) British airways has different versions of Premium Economy on their aircraft. I personally don’t enjoy the old premium economy that British Airways has to offer and only wanted to try the new product.

British airways are retrofitting all of their aircraft with the new premium economy product. All of their 777-300’s have it and the A380’s.
Most of the 777-200’s will be fitted with it and select 767’s.
At present there are no plans to fit it on the Boeing 747’s. So you might get the old product here.

The good news for us is that our flight today was going to be operated by one of the New Boeing 777-300’s in BA’s fleet.
Our aircraft registration was  G-STBI and had been put into service in January 2014, making her just 5 months old.

We left our hotel in Shanghai and took the MRT. The journey to the airport took around 30 minutes.



British Airways check in area is located in section E at Shanghai airport. It was really easy to find when arriving from the MRT stop located underground.

We proceeded to the check in area.



Lucky for us there was no line for check in. There was a dedicated Premium economy check in counter for us to use (world traveler plus). It was a nice little feature as I had not checked to see if BA’s premium economy had a dedicated check in area.



Check in was done very quickly and we were handed our boarding passes.


 I was really impressed at how quickly we went through security, the entire process must have taken in total around 5 minutes. Comparing this to Beijing’s airport I found Shanghai’s to be much more efficient.

As everything was very smooth and quick we had some free time and decided to have some breakfast while we waited. The restaurant was located on the second level of the airport and gave a nice view of all the European heavies arriving overnight.




After breakfast we walked down to our gate and awaited the call for boarding.
I took a few pictures of our almost brand new 777-300 waiting for us.



Boarding was called at 10:30am, which was really surprising given the capacity of the aircraft. I presumed the plane must have a light load today. I did find out later the plane had a very light load, Club world was almost empty, Premium economy was about 70 % full and Economy was about 70 % full. I did not see the load in first class.

British airways 777-300 operate with 4 cabin choices.

We boarded and were greeted with a welcome and a smile and we were directed to our seats. I was instantly impressed with the premium economy seat. In a few ways it was much like a US domestic first class seat. Comfortable wide chair with a cocktail table in between the two seats. We had picked our seats in advance when we checked in and selected the window and aisle seats. The seating configuration in premium was 2 – 4 – 2 which is a great bonus if travelling as a couple.


British Airways sells World Traveller Plus with the following benefits.

wider seats and more legroom
small, intimate cabins with expert, attentive service
delicious meals and full bar service
personal entertainment system with noise-reducing headphones
larger free baggage allowance

A few of the addtional benefits are you can check two bags, premium dining experience and more entertainment options.
Click here for a view of their website write up about the service.

Delicious meals and a full bar service

There’s plenty of ‘plus’ in your World Traveller Plus menu, featuring a delicious assortment of fine foods designed to keep your taste buds entertained throughout the flight:

three-course meals crafted to perfectly match the time and duration of your flight
a premium dining experience, featuring high-quality ingredients, fine china and linen napkins
a wide range of special meal alternatives to suit your dietary needs
complimentary bar service, hot drinks, juices and water (on some very short flights, a full bar service is not always available)



The chair was comfortable and had really impressive recline, it also had a 37 ” seat pitch.
Though these are not shell seats and you pretty much recline so far that the person behind you might struggle to get up from their seat. I did have a conversation with the person behind me about this making sure I was not just lying in all of their personal space.

I did notice a few moans from other people in the cabin when the person in front on them reclined as they had paid for the extra space and it really dissipated when the person in front of you reclines.

I explored the seat and layout a bit more before we taxied for departure.








Smaller more intimate cabin






Handy USB ports for charging during the flight


The giant wingspan of the 777-300.
After everyone had boarded we pushed back and taxied to the runway. We had about a 10 minute wait before we book off.


We passed a few different airlines during our taxi run



The captain informed us that our flight time today would be just over 12 hours and that we should be in for fairly smooth sailing most of the way.

Take off was very smooth and it took about 15 minutes to reach an altitude where the captain turned off the seat belt sign and the crew started going about their duties.


The drinks service commenced about 20 minutes after, what was really surprising it that for the next two hours the flight was fairly turbulent. I’m not sure if there is an air space rule in China but for the first two hours of our flight we cruised only at 24,000 FT. This could also have been due to the amount of fuel on board.

Cloud cover was fairly thick at 24,000 ft , so we bounced along in the clouds, I could see the clear skies just a few thousand feet up.
I had a few beers to take my mind off all of the bouncing around.

Lunch service began about 1 hour and 45 minutes into the flight and we were given two options from the Business class menu

Chinese Chicken

I asked for the Steak and was informed that they had ran out, which was disappointing, but I guess the business class passengers get the first choice.


I was a little disappointed with the presentation also. I guess i had expected the entire meal to be served on fine China. But it was just the dish for the main course that was. The rest was the usual economy looking items.


The Chinese chicken was served with rice and vegetables.


It was ok. I think I ate just half of it and then decided to pass on the rest.

There was a side of what I’m guessing was potato salad, this tasted better than the main dish.


And for desert there was apple pie with custard, though it did look like someone had taken a bite out of mine and the custard tasted more like water with added sugar.


I was not that impressed to be honest with the food served in premium economy. Personally I would say it was not any better than Economy food. What you are really paying the extra for is the Extra legroom, a slightly bigger seat and a more private cabin.

To drown out the taste of the food I sampled a few of the wine’s that British airways had to offer.


After dinner we went from 32,000 FT to 36,000 FT and then cruised at this altitude for the next five hours. I watched a few tv episodes and enjoyed some more wine to pass the time, it was really smooth flying for the rest of the flight back to the UK.


I did try to watch Anchorman 2 on the flight as I did really enjoy the first movie. Lets just say I got half way through it and decided to end it there.




I forgot to point out at the start of the flight you are given an amenity kit in Premium economy. I can’t say it was anything special. It contained the usual, Sleeper shades, socks, tooth paste & brush.



We then passed up and over Russia and our cruise level then reached 38,000 FT and we remained at this altitude until we began our decent into London.

1 hour and 30 minutes before landing the crew started offering our afternoon tea service. The options were really disappointing and it should not have been called afternoon tea. Sometimes I find British Airways meal wordings a little old fashioned. I know they are a British airline and traditional , But remember I’m British myself and I must say its been a few years since I’ve had afternoon tea.

They should just call it Dinner and stop mixing up the names.

The two options for this so called Afternoon tea. Chicken or Mushroom pasta.

As I had sampled the Chicken dish earlier I decided to try the mushroom pasta.


Get ready to feast your eyes on this wonderful dish. Also note that this is just food served from Economy, Like I said before the food really is no better in Premium Economy.



Sloppy, Soggy and Salty, So salty in fact I might as well just be pouring salt on my tongue while writing this. I can still taste the salt from it. I know that our taste buds are altered when flying at altitude, but this completely killed mine.


At this point it had been around nine hours since I had eaten anything, so I did try my best to eat it, I had to give up and see if the crew could find anything else for me to eat. I think i ended up eating some instant noodles.

So as far as the food goes in Premium Economy…..overall I would say its not much of an improvement.

We then flew down over Copenhagen and started our decent into London.



Landing into London was a little bit bouncy with massive cloud cover and having to stack for around 25 minutes, up until this point we had been making great time on the flight.



After our twelve hour flight I had a think about if I would fly in premium economy again. For the food I would definitely say NO. But as far as space and comfort goes…..Maybe.

It really depends on what the price difference is on your flight, if its stay $200 more per person for an 11 hour + flight then I would say yes. If I was flying from London to New York I would say no, its not worth the extra and to save the money for some extra sight seeing or a wonderful dinner somewhere at your destination.

Premium Economy will continue to be an interesting middle product until someone really gets it right. They try to market it with style and sophitication, but you feel as though you are missed our on the flights. I feel as though First & business have decided flight crew and so does Economy. But I get the feeling that we are just served just before or around the same time as economy passengers and given the same food.

The real big bonus was the leg room.

Personally the best economy plus product out there right now is Air New Zealand’s. That is what an economy plus product should look like.

Just in case you have never seen it.


Now that’s a premium economy product.

I spent several hours at the back of the plane chatting with some of the crew. Chris and Christina. They were both fantastic cabin crew and had been with British airways for a long time. I think Chris had been with them for over 27 years.

Chris and Christina were amazing flight crew.


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