View Full Version : BA versus Virgin premium economy

Tony Flynn
2nd May 2004, 10:33
I'd welcome some opinions from you seasoned travellers on here. My wife and I are on our yearly hard earned two weeks in Florida in October and I thought I'd spend a few quid extra and pay for premium economy - anyone here got any experience on this route? Which one would you choose and why? where's the cheapest place to buy etc...

2nd May 2004, 17:54
service and seating on board pretty much the same on both VS and BA Premium Economy. I'm 6ft ++ and found BA pretty good even on a long bash to SYD, OK recline on seats wasn't great but legroom was a whole lot better than back in the veal crates.

A couple of pluses though for VS, you get a dedicated check in desk for Premium Economy, on BA you are with the masses queuing for economy, also with VS on some config 747's, Premium Economy is on the Upper Deck which makes for a quiet ride.

In terms of price, it's hit the phones time, grab a copy of the Sunday Times travel supplement, all the main long haul agents advertise in there, or any of the Sunday's for that matter and start bashing through them. Heard good things about Airline Network recently.

You only say Florida, if you are heading to Orlando rather than MIA, maybe consider a fly drive package from one of the charter operators, they have premium seats which are often good value and they fly into Sanford (http://www.orlandosanfordairport.com/) , a bit north of Orlando but a load more pleasent than the zoo that is Orlando International. One thing to watch at Orlando if you are picking up a rental car, some of the lots are way off the airport, rent from an operator that is on airport. At Sanford you walk out of the terminal and into your car.

g'luck TF and let us know how what deal you go for :ok:

B Sousa
3rd May 2004, 00:05
I have done both and as I stated before BA Business is probably the best I have ever been treated.
VS is slipping. I do them every year from the West Coast through London to South Africa. The only difference I see in VS Premium is the seat is a bit bigger. from there on its is economy in the worst fashion........ This year I did Continental Economy and it was better than VS Premium (except for the seat).
I will say that the folks who work the counters at VS have always been very helpful to the point of going the extra mile.
If your going to fly Business do it with an Airline that advertises Business, not Premium Economy.......

3rd May 2004, 02:13
Consider also American Airlines. They fly the 777 LHR-MIA which has MRTC (More Room Throughout Coach) meaning that you get legroom more or less the same as BA's World Traveller Plus but at the standard economy fare. You do have to pay for alcoholic drinks on AA though.

Pax Vobiscum
3rd May 2004, 10:10
christep has a good point, as long as all you want is some extra legroom. AA's MRTC has a pitch mid-way between WT and WT+ on BA (31" and 38" respectively, the same as Economy and Premium on Virgin) - I don't believe there's any more width though.

In my experience, service on either BA or VS is far superior to any of the US carriers, where a smile is a rare sight. I've often wondered why this is, when the US sets such high standards for service industries in general (I'm thinking restaurants and shops), to the point of being a bit overwhelming for us Brits.

Tony Flynn
3rd May 2004, 17:59
Thanks for the help so far guys, I always thought the AA flights to Miami were a codeshare operated by BA but apparently not. I've travelled to the States a fair bit and found the BA economy product to be excellent, I've never travelled with Virgin and have to echo Pax's observations of US based airlines - why is this?

Ropey Pilot
5th May 2004, 11:46
I thought flights to MIA were an AA / BA codeshare? :confused:

At least last time I travelled MAN - MIA on an AA flight it also had a BA number.

And christep - last time I went to AA no-one was allowed alcoholic drinks at all!:E

Young Paul
5th May 2004, 11:59
Yes, but the joys of codeshare - the standard of service is different, depending on who the carrier is, despite the fact that there is a codeshare! Bless!

5th May 2004, 12:21
B Sousa: If your going to fly Business do it with an Airline that advertises Business, not Premium Economy.......If you're talking about VS Premium Economy, that's exactly what it is. "Upper Class" is VS' business class; they have no first class product.

There aren't any AA/BA codeshares from LHR, but there are now some codeshares on routes to other UK stations - this is after a relatively recent approval by the regulators.

There is, IMO, a big gap between AA's economy (even with MRTC) and BA's and VS' premium economy products. AA's seats are just ordinary economy seats. The extra width and features of the W class seats on BA and VS set them a long way apart from AA - they're almost as good as the very first generation of business class seats, back in prehistoric times - although you do have to pay the extra /$ for them.

5th May 2004, 13:42
If you read the other current thread in this forum, PPRuNe (http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=128462) then this will give you more info.

If you feel like treating yourself and having more than Economy but cannot afford full club/biz then the Premium Economy and World Traveller Plus are excellent.

I have used the VS 'PE' many times and am a big fan, but as I am a big fan of VS, I would say that wouldn't I? I have not used WT+ but understand it's about the same.

In PE, the seats are wider than in standard economy and you do get dedicated check in. Look at Virgin Atlantic (http://www.virgin-atlantic.com) and select 'Flying With Us' and then 'Premium Economy'. I'm not sure if BA have the same but their web site is one of the best going.

If you have a few other pennies to spare, then see if your departure airport has a pay-as-you-go lounge. These are often operated by ServisAir or similar. Check the web site of the airport, or their information desk, as this will be a pleasant start. Lastly, with VS, don't forget that you can order your duty free before you leave home. They need 24 hours notice and you can book and pay for outbound and return. Then the goodies are delivered to your seat!

7th May 2004, 12:11
Never flown VS so can't comment but BA WT+ is IMO an excellent product for the money, once you have done a trip you'll never want to fly WT again and will always be able to justify the extra cost for WT+ to yourself. If you go the extra mile for full business class on BA then make sure someone else is paying 'cause if it's your own money the real differences between WT+ and Business are not enough for the extra dosh. Fly BA WT+ and keep the extra in your pocket everytime.

7th May 2004, 13:24
I agree that WT+ is worth the money, although the catering is the same as cattle class. On a recent trip to Hong Kong in WT+, I was stunned when the breakfast came round after some 11 hours in the air - it was a toasted (rock hard) cheese and tomato ciabatta sandwich!

7th May 2004, 14:38
Funny thing about food ... on one trip to South Africa, I was in VS Upper and the dinner choices were not for me. Although they had all of things on the menu, none of them appealed to me. They either had spices in them, or pasta or other foods that I cannot stomach. So ... they went and got me a choice form Economy - and it was great. :)

B Sousa
7th May 2004, 21:59
Globaliser writes:" you're talking about VS Premium Economy, that's exactly what it is. "Upper Class" is VS' business class; they have no first class product."

It makes sense now. Virgin economy is lower than anything else and the best they have is not first class..........

Thanks, I didnt realize it and based on the prices Im sure many others had no clue.

8th May 2004, 14:42
B Sousa: "It makes sense now. Virgin economy is lower than anything else and the best they have is not first class."

Well, it's not for me to defend VS's marketing but I think you will find that, they chose the different names when they launched, to distinguish their product from the competition and encourage people to think of what was different.

Also, when they started, they had only Biz and Economy but the biz product that they oferred was better than almost any other Biz at that time. in some cases, their Biz was better than 1st Class! It fell somewhere between the two, but never below Biz, another reason for calling it by a different name. Don't forget that their 1st/Biz/Upper was so good that BA took such fright as to start the whole dirty tricks plan?

The innovations of VS are legion. Individual screens, which actually started in Upper with a personal tape player 'VideoMan' and a choice of tapes in 1987 was one. Limo service to/from airports for Upper pax and so forth.

The introduction of Premium Economy was copied by BA as World Traveller Plus. I think it amusing that PE was going to be called Middle Class up until about two weeks before the launch when they got cold feet and changed the name! (I sit to be corrected on that)

Perception is everything. I consider VS and BA to be the same in economy many say that one in particular is better. As you will have seen in many threads here, the perception of the individual pax as to what is 'good/better/best' has too many intangibles to be written down. One's cultural upbringing, standard of living at home, age, gender, outlook on life, etc. etc.

"I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you any different." Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

8th May 2004, 21:25
Paxboy is spot on. I have flown biz class four times in the last four months. 2 United, 1 virgin and 1 AA. By far the most impressive is Virgin, and no, I'm not a great fan of there's. ( Virgin economy is not fun, but give them credit, it could have been the "bucket and spade" flights).
Virgin don't have a first class cabin. But you could easily think you were in one.:ok:

B Sousa
9th May 2004, 06:30
OK, I understand the different names etc. But the price fo VS Business is comparable to First Class on others, So I cant see any big deal in the name game.
BA Business still goes down on record with me as the best out there.

High as a Kite
9th May 2004, 20:33
B Sousa,

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class fares are the same as British Airways charges for Club World. You'll find that First Class fares are generally a few thousand pounds more.

Premium Economy is an upgraded Economy class. The extra benefits include:-

- dedicated Premium Economy check in counter(s)
- priority boarding and disembarkation
- pre take off drink (champagne, bucks fizz or soft drink)
- newspapers
- wider seat with extra legroom

On flights departing from LGW the Premium Economy cabin is on the upper deck.

The Premium Economy cabin is separate from the main cabin on all LHR departures.

Hope this helps.


10th May 2004, 12:52
BSOUSA: BA Business still goes down on record with me as the best out there.

Yep, that is what I meant by: As you will have seen in many threads here, the perception of the individual pax as to what is 'good/better/best' has too many intangibles to be written down. !!!
BA Club is of the highest order and some might ask, would it be of the highest order if they did not have such serious competition?

(Sorry for those who heard this before) I travel VS because of the attitude of BA mgmt, not because BA service is poor. BA standards of service and maintenance are amongst the very best in the world.

11th May 2004, 08:23
Well I think I'm the only person who has replied who has flown both. I've done BA WTP to and from SYD and VS Prem Econ to UVF and from LAX.

I like both airlines equally and have no "grump" against either. Comparing just those 2 classes I can easily say that VS Prem Econ is more spacious all round than BA WTP. It's not just a legroom or service thing - pretty much the same on both carriers.

It's the actual seat which makes the difference. VS will lie flatter (ie: recline more) than the BA seat & is wider.

Now I'm no giant or fatty but I just could not get comfy or asleep in the BA seat. It's as simple as that really. If I was presented with the choice of WTP against Prem Econ it would always be the VS flight.

Hope this helps.

cheers ;)


14th May 2004, 10:02
If you can...ask for lower deck premium economy at Gatwick..they use the last two rows of upper class seats for this and dispite the fact that the service is pretty buch dressed up economy..you will get a good nights sleep....good trade I think....at LHR thinks are a little different....better to request upper deck

Red Snake
17th May 2004, 13:22
Based on my experiences on the LHR-SFO routes which I've flown more often than I care to recall, my ranking, best to worst, is:

BA business - wonderful
VS upper class - also wonderful but seat less comfortable & less private
BA WT+ - very good
VS premium economy - also v. good but again, seat less comfortable than BA
AA economy, best economy seat but no direct flight
BA economy - if you must
VS economy - if you really must
UA economy - yuck, really yuck!

I did get upgraded to BA first once. The best flight experience ever, or buy a new car.

My own opinion from actual experience, others may differ! Based on leg room, comfort of seat in general, & overall 'lack of hassle' experience. I don't rate TV screens or free drinks very high; give me a good book & the space to read it & sleep.