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Executive travel: BA’s premium economy from Dubai to London

Premium economy on British Airways is a comfortable cost-saver for the business-class passenger looking to cut back on travel expenses.
A premium economy return to London from Dubai currently costs from Dh4,440. Nick Morrish / British Airways
A premium economy return to London from Dubai currently costs from Dh4,440. Nick Morrish / British Airways

Making the choice to fly premium economy from Dubai to London opens the door to a tricky decision. Emirates, my preferred option for flying to London, does not yet offer a cabin class that sits between economy and business – although I have heard this is under consideration.

On the other hand, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic both do. How to choose? I ended up checking out both websites to get a sense of what to expect. Virgin has a video on the site – and it’s pretty good. The cabin presents well, and in typical slick, Branson-inspired style, it conjures up images of bright stylish young things frolicking about … but alas, the flight schedules didn’t work. So on to British Airways. No video or swagger — just a straightforward description of what its World Traveller Plus has to offer. But the flight time worked well, so a few clicks later I was all booked and ready to travel.

Check-in was easy, done online with a bag drop that didn’t involve a great deal of queuing. The powers that be have done a good job of refurbishing Terminal 1 at Dubai International Airport. The combination of smart gates, a new shuttle system and a refreshed dining offering has closed the gap a bit on Terminal 3.

On board, the World Traveller Plus cabin on board a Boeing 777 consisted of five rows in a 2-4-2 configuration. Sitting down, my initial reaction was to be pleasantly surprised. I’m 6’2’’ and 95 kilograms, but the seat is wide and the leg room quite decent. There are two USB ports and a standard socket, which was a lifesaver as my laptop battery was running perilously close to empty. Later in the flight though while trying to get some work done I was struggling a bit with “desk” space – my laptop was occupying the entire fold-out table, leaving little room for my notebook or the papers I was reviewing.

Lunch consisted of a starter mezze plate of hummus and fattoush alongside a main dish of seared beef fillet (chosen over the pan-fried dory fish fillet). The presentation, however, was much closer to economy than the linen and crockery experience that you typically get in business class on Emirates.

q&a six-hour stretch to scale up

Zaid Alrawi expands on his World Traveller Plus experience with British Airways:

Was it worth it to fly premium economy and miss out on the perks in business?

Having worked a long time in banking, you get used to being flown business class on long-haul flights for work. However, if you’re not working or flying overnight, then the cost saving with a premium economy fare – which can be as much as 60 or 70 per cent – is completely worthwhile.

So how do current fares compare?

A premium economy return to London from Dubai will currently cost you from Dh4,440, while the same journey in business will set you back from Dh12,070. BA currently flies four times a day to London Heathrow.

Are more business travellers choosing premium economy?

When I started my career in 1999, executives generally flew business on all flights. The collapse of the dot-com bubble brought about the introduction of economy class on short-haul flights. During the far more severe 2008 recession many companies played around with thresholds. Whereas companies might have historically permitted employees to travel business for flights longer than three or four hours, a straw poll of my friends suggests that the average is probably closer to six hours these days.

Any downsides to not being in business?

The screen in World Traveller Plus is roughly the same size as a tablet, and while you do get decent earphones the functionality of the system is a bit clumsy.


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Updated: February 26, 2017 04:00 AM



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