Opinion

Premium economy cabin proves its pedigree

The urban legend about the hamburger chain that introduced a veggie burger in response to supposed demand for healthier options, suggests customers do not always know what they want.

According to the story the idea bombed spectacularly, probably because people who’re into healthy eating don’t frequent fast-food joints.

But there are times when customers get it spot on.

Fifteen years ago some British Airways’ customers who mostly flew in the main cabin, World Traveller, suggested they would be prepared to pay a bit more for a little more comfort and exclusivity. The airline believed them and introduced a fourth cabin, World Traveller Plus – a premium long-haul cabin.

The new cabin came with wider, more comfortable seats, offering more legroom. Increased comfort was the obvious benefit. What was less apparent, but which became an important attraction for people travelling on business was that more space made it easier to haul out a laptop and do some work.

On Ghanaian routes this proved compelling, particularly for SMEs seeking to open up overseas markets.

“These are customers whose travel budget doesn’t allow them to travel in Club World, but want to make the most of their business trip, arriving reasonably rested being able to tweak a presentation or jot down some notes. For them, World Traveller Plus proved a perfect fit,” says Moran Birger, British Airways commercial manager, Ghana.

At the time there was some scepticism about the wisdom of adding a fourth cabin. While premium economy was not a novel concept there weren’t any airlines which offered the choice of first, business, premium economy and economy. But despite the considerable headwinds the airline industry has faced over the past 10 years, World Traveller Plus has endured.

Now, with British Airways taking delivery of its next generation of aircraft such as the Boeing 777-300ER, 787 and A380, a reincarnated version of the cabin is taking to the skies. It remains true to the original concept, providing even more comfort and exclusivity.

The new seats reclines further, there’s a much larger video touch screen and two USB ports and an RCA port allow you to link your personal electronic devices to the in-flight entertainment system.

The on-board service is also being enhanced and will include a new, dedicated World Traveller Plus menu, which includes two choices off the Club World menu.

“World Traveller Plus isn’t about glitz and gimmicks, but providing the space to work, relax or rest at an affordable premium. Add to this online check-in, mobile and home printed boarding passes and it’s the ideal way to travel for people whose company policy doesn’t allow them to fly business class but who need to make the most of their time,” explains Birger.

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