The best British Airways World Traveller (economy) seats

Jan 6, 2020

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with information about BA’s WT rollout. It was originally published on 9 May 2019.

When it comes to selecting a seat on a flight, it should never be a guess. We have already taken a look at the best British Airways seats in first class, Club World (BA’s business class) and World Traveller Plus (its premium economy offering). And now, we’re finishing by taking a look at the best seats in British Airways’ long-haul economy class offering — the World Traveller cabin.

British Airways flies more than 130 long-haul planes as well as four Airbus A321s that feature its World Traveller product. The latter are often referred to as mid-haul ex-BMI A321, as British Airways acquired these when it bought British Midland in 2012. They feature the same seats as BA’s short-haul economy product, which it calls Euro Traveller. Though there has been a trend of unbundling in recent years — for example, British Airways offering basic economy fares across the Atlantic that do not include checked luggage — the long-haul World Traveller offering includes free food and drinks. That, unlike the short-haul Euro Traveller product, which has a buy-on-board service for food and drinks.

World Traveller is offered on:

  • 43 Boeing 747s (retired by end of 2023)
  • 18 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners
  • 12 Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners
  • 12 Boeing 777-300s
  • 46 Boeing 777-200s
  • 12 Airbus A380s
  • 3 Airbus 350
  • 4 Airbus A321s (fly both to long-haul destinations such as Amman, Beirut and Cairo, as well as ad-hoc short-haul destinations when the aircraft are needed in the short-haul fleet. The economy hard product is the same as the short-haul seat.)
Photo by Jean Arnas / The Points Guy UK
(Photo by Jean Arnas/The Points Guy)

Best Seating Strategy for World Traveller Across All Long-Haul British Airways Aircraft

Generally, there are fewer particularly good seats across the World Traveller cabins (though also many more seats). Therefore, my first choice is usually a front row or bulkhead row window seat, i.e. a window seat where I can get out without needing to disturb or climb over others (or being climbed over/disturbed by others).

British Airways is in the process of densifying its World Traveller cabins by moving to a 10-abreast configuration for its Boeing 777 aircraft, which it has already done for the London Gatwick fleet. Those are tight and crowded. So if given a choice, I’d avoid generally densified 777s. Having said that, there are some decent seats on those, too, hence knowing which ones to pick is even more important.

The curvature of some aircraft means that toward the back of the cabin, there are fewer seats that some prefer — especially couples or when travelling with someone else. They are by no means universally the best, as the back of the cabin gets most bumpy during turbulence, is noisiest, gets served food and drinks last and many don’t love being so close to the back galley and toilets.

The best World Traveller seats across the BA fleet are on the upper deck of the A380 where there are sidebins that provide additional storage space, and the layout is 2-4-2 compared to 3-4-2 downstairs on the A380 and 3-3-3 across most other aircraft.

Best British Airways World Traveller seats on a Boeing 747

Top picks: 29A, 29K, 40A, 40K, 28B, 28C, 28H, 28J, rows 51-53: B/C & J/K

Image courtesy of British Airways
(Image courtesy of British Airways)

British Airways flies two different versions of the 747. The above left image covers aircraft typically flying from London Heathrow Terminal 3. While that layout is very unpopular with crew and passengers for first class, Club World and to some extent also World Traveller Plus, it actually has better seats in World Traveller. Be warned though that these aircraft have not had an upgrade to the inflight entertainment system or the general cabin in a long time.

As said in the general advice, my first choices would be front row window seats, so rows 29 and 40 (on both configurations). In addition, 28B and 28C as well as 28H and 28J are also very good seats, particularly for couples or those travelling together.

Rows 51-53 provide similarly good couple seats — or even if travelling alone— as there are only two seats in the window sections. Though, as said in the general comments, the farther back in a plane, the noisier, bumpier and busier (toilets and galleys) it gets.

Photo courtesy Nick Morrish / British Airways
British Airways World Traveller with nine-abreast seating. (Photo by Nick Morrish / British Airways)

Best British Airways World Traveller seats on a Boeing 777

Top picks: 15A, 15K, 26A, 26K on the LHR 3-class 777-200; 20A, 20K, 32A, 32K on the LGW 777-200; 26A, 26K on the LHR 4-class 777-200; 28A, 28K, 38A, 38K on the 777-300

Image courtesy of British Airways
(Image courtesy of British Airways)

There are four versions of the Boeing 777 in the British Airways fleet. Again, the general advice applies to pick front row window seats for the solo traveller.

The three-class, Heathrow-based 777-200 as well as the 777-300 have particular attractive front row seats for both solo and couple travellers, as there are just two seats in those front rows.

Otherwise, the last few rows with two seats for window seats can be attractive for couples or those travelling together.

BA has densified its London Gatwick-based 777s to 10-abreast in a 3-4-3 layout, which makes for a busy and tight cabin with narrower aisles and seats. The upside is that these cabins have been recently refreshed with modern IFE and upholstery. There often isn’t a choice between LHR and LGW, as it tends to be one or the other for most destinations, but if there’s a choice, I’d avoid the LGW 777s.

Like all other cabins, I typically avoid the 777s, though arguably on a route like JFK where the choice might be 28A or 28K on a 777-300 or 40A or 40K on a 747, the 777 wins.

Image courtesy of British Airways
World Traveller with 10-abreast seating. (Photo courtesy of British Airways)

Best British Airways World Traveller seats on a refurbished Boeing 777-200

Top picks: 26A, 26K, 26C, 26H, 25D, 25G. For those travelling with companions: 36A, 36B, 36J, 36K, 37A, 37B, 37J, 37K, 38A, 38B, 38J, 38K.

Economy class on the refurbished British Airways B777-200 / Image taken from Expertflyer.com
Economy class on the refurbished British Airways B777-200 / (Image courtesy of ExpertFlyer)

British Airways is in the process of updating its cabins on existing long-haul aircraft installing the new Club Suite product, as well as densifying the World Traveller cabin to 10-abreast in a 3-4–3 layout. That means economy is even tighter and, if possible, I’d avoid this aircraft in economy.

Having said that, and as outlined in our more detailed story on the best seats on this refurbished 777-200, there are some decent seats at the back of the plane for those travelling with companions. Those tend to be the most noisy seats (both galley, toilet and passenger and crew traffic, as well as engine noise), but these last few rows where there are only two seats in the window section give passengers a nice bit of extra space.

For solo travellers, the usual rule applies of front row window seats being the best pick followed by other front row seats.

rows 36 onwards on the refurbished B777-200
Rows 36 onwards on the refurbished B777-200.

Best British Airways World Traveller seats on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Top picks: 30A, 30K on the 787-9; 21A, 21K, 30K on the 787-8

Image courtesy of British Airways
(Image courtesy of British Airways)

The advice for the 787 Dreamliners follows the general advice: front row window seats. Though on these aircraft, the choice of good seats is limited.

Again, there are two seats on each side in the final row, which can be attractive for couples though they are at the very rear of the plane with the already-mentioned downsides of proximity to the toilets and galley, more noise and greater impact during turbulence.

The Dreamliners do have better air quality, a lower pressurised altitude on board to help with jet lag, more modern IFE and are a bit faster, so they should be considered where there’s a choice.

The one additional downside of the Dreamliners is that the IFE boxes under each seat are larger than on other aircraft, restricting leg room more so than on other aircraft.

Best British Airways World Traveller seats on an Airbus A380

Top picks: 70A, 70K, 80A, 80K, 20A, 20K, 35A, 35K

Image courtesy of British Airways
(Image courtesy of British Airways)

World Traveller on the Airbus A380 is split over both decks, with the lower deck in a dense 3-4-3 configuration while upstairs it is 2-4-2.

My top pick across all British Airways aircraft for World Traveller is the A380 on the upper deck. The cabins have a smaller feel to them, there are fewer seats in each row than on any other long-haul aircraft and there are sidebins by the window for additional storage. The front row window seats in row 70 and 80 are arguably better than a World Traveller Plus middle seat — though that could be argued for any bulkhead seat.

Downstairs, row 20 and 35 provide extra legroom and are therefore the best rows to go for if upstairs isn’t available.

If there’s a choice of aircraft, the A380 on the upper deck would be my choice for British Airways World Traveller.

Best British Airways World Traveller seats on an Airbus A350

Top picks: 30A, 30K, 41A, 41K

A350 WT seat map. Image courtesy of British Airways
(Image courtesy of British Airways)

The A350 is the newest addition to the BA fleet. It is a very modern aircraft that is meant to help with hydration and jet lag, and given it’s in a 9-abreast layout, it is probably a reasonably attractive choice if given the choice.

The seat map is relatively straightforward.Solo travellers should pick the front row window seats, and  Row 30 is particularly attractive as there are only two seats, making those also great seats for those travelling with a companion. After that, Row 41 is similarly good with three seats, and if travelling with a companion and not fancying any neighbours, 59B and 59C give a two-seat window row, though far back and close to the galley and toilets.

Best British Airways World Traveller seats on an Airbus A321

Top picks: 20A, 20F, 9A, 9F

(Image courtesy of British Airways)

World Traveller on the A321 is different, as it’s a narrow-body, single-aisle aircraft that is usually used by British Airways for short-haul flights. However, these particular aircraft feature flat beds in Club World business class and are also used for mid-haul routes.

The best seats here are in Row 20 due to the extra legroom because of the emergency exit row. Row 9 is also a good choice, though with slightly less room.

Bottom line

Economy is not designed with comfort and space in mind, but it’s usually the cheapest way to get to one’s destination. However, not all aircraft and seats are equal so following our recommendations helps turning that economy flight into a potentially slightly more comfortable experience.

Featured Image by Stuart Bailey / British Airways

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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