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A review of British Airways World Traveller economy on the Airbus A380 from London to Miami

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Quick take: British Airways’ upper deck economy cabin provides a comfortable, spacious spot for a peaceful journey across the Atlantic.


  • The 2-4-2 configuration is ideal for couples and families.
  • Storage bins provide window seats with extra storage and personal space.
  • The food was above average for economy class.


  • There are no menus displaying food and beverage options.
  • The inflight entertainment screen was small and sluggish.
  • British Airways’ A380 reconfiguration plans may eliminate this miniature cabin in the coming years.

Not all economy seats are the same if you’re on British Airways‘ largest aircraft, the double-decker Airbus A380.

While the lower deck of the carrier’s A380 features an industry-standard economy cabin with 10 seats across — giving that lower World Traveller economy cabin a dense 199 seats — just upstairs, in a part of the plane that airlines like Emirates and Etihad reserve for a business-class cabin, there’s a miniature cabin at the rear with 104 more economy seats.

Even though those upstairs seats are part of the same World Traveller cabin, sitting in the upper deck provides several advantages to economy-class passengers, including fewer seats per row, extra storage and more personal space, all thanks to the curvature of the aircraft causing the upper deck to be more narrow than downstairs.

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Sure, coach is coach, but does the extra space around these seats make this one of the best ways to cross the Atlantic in economy?

On a recent flight from London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) to Miami International Airport (MIA), I managed to snag a seat upstairs and put British Airways World Traveller on the Airbus A380 to the test.

Here’s what the experience was like.


How much does economy class cost to book on British Airways?

British Airways operates the double-decker A380 twice daily from London to Miami over the northern winter months (reducing to once daily in summer), as well as daily to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO). The airline sells two economy fare types:

Fare type Change fees Baggage allowance Seat assignment Boarding group
Economy Basic Nonrefundable; date/time changes permitted for 150 British pounds ($191) plus fare difference No checked bag (checked bags can be added online for $70 each) Allocated at check-in Groups 4 to 9 (according to seat row number)
Economy Standard Nonrefundable; date/time changes permitted for 150 British pounds ($191) plus fare difference 1 free checked bag up to 50 pounds Choose your seat at check-in Groups 4 to 9 (according to seat row number)

All passengers can bring a personal item and a full-size cabin bag on board. Here’s a look at round-trip airfares and award prices on this route:

Round-trip prices Economy Basic Economy Standard World Traveller Plus Premium Economy Club World Business First
Airfare (range) $605 to $2,068 $732 to $2,196 $1,368 to $3,247 $2,970 to $7,718 $10,600 to $12,300
British Airways Executive Club Avios N/A 60,000 (off-peak dates) to 70,000 (peak dates) Avios plus $191 95,000 to 135,000 Avios plus $420 180,000 to 200,000 Avios plus $573 175,000 to 200,000 Avios plus $949

With work commitments in New York following my time in Miami, we booked an open-jaw journey into MIA and out of New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) back to LHR for $757 in Economy Standard.

Avios are among the easiest currencies to earn since Avios is a transfer partner of most major credit card points currencies. The following cards all currently offer strong welcome bonuses with points that you can transfer into your British Airways Executive Club account:

Checking into and boarding economy on British Airways

I checked in online using the British Airways app, which allowed me to select a window seat on the upper deck.

British Airways flights to Miami depart from Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport, where economy passengers could check in at Zone G. Those who had already checked in could drop their bags at Zones C, D or F.


Terminal 5 had plenty of passengers streaming into it but remained peaceful, well organized and efficient.

Those passengers checking in at the airport were required to do so at a kiosk and then join another line to tag their bags, though there were plenty of friendly airline staff on hand to assist anyone who had difficulty using these machines.

Security was efficient as always, and I was through to the airside area of the terminal in minutes.

Long-haul flights from Terminal 5 depart from the B and C gates, and my only grumble on the ground experience was how inefficient the transfer train was, as it required all arriving passengers to disembark, and then a single staff member slowly inspected each carriage before eventually allowing departing passengers on board.

Allow at least 15 minutes to move from the A gates to the B or C gates at Terminal 5.

Once I arrived at Gate C64, plenty of seating and tensile barriers were set up to board the world’s largest passenger aircraft.

Boarding started approximately 40 minutes before departure, with those seated in the miniature cabin at the rear of the aircraft’s upper deck invited to board last in Groups 8 and 9 through the airbridge connected to the upper deck.


How comfortable was economy on British Airways?

The aircraft for my nine-hour flight to Miami was an 11-year-old Airbus A380 with the following seat count and layout in economy:

Number of seats 199 (lower deck); 109 (upper deck)
Cabin layout 3-4-3 (lower deck); 2-4-2 (upper deck)
Seat pitch 31 inches
Seat recline 6 inches
Seat width 17.9 inches
Screen size 8.9 inches

British Airways A380 upper deck has two Club World business-class cabins and a World Traveller Plus premium economy cabin. Behind these cabins are two groups of World Traveller economy seats. The first (and larger) cabin has eight rows of seats.

Behind this cabin was a smaller economy cabin of just four rows. It was such an intimate space that I forgot I was on an aircraft with almost 500 seats.

Downstairs, the first-class cabin has 14 seats, followed by a Club World business-class cabin of 44 seats in a 2-4-2 configuration, with 199 seats in a 2-4-2 layout behind that.


The best economy seats on the carrier’s A380 are the window seats on the upper deck (seats A and K in rows 70 to 83). This is because the curvature of the aircraft walls leaves a bit of extra space between the seats and the cabin wall, which the airline filled with storage bins under each window for passengers to use.


Ideal for personal items like shoes, a coat, a laptop or toiletries, I also managed to squeeze my large backpack into the space, which meant I didn’t need to get up to retrieve things from the overhead bins.


Once closed, the lid of the bin is great for resting a drink on or having extra elbow room in a class of service where personal space is traditionally limited.


I was also impressed with the seat’s headrest that could be adjusted up and down and had stable wings that proved a comfortable place to rest the side of my head for a nap.

Legroom was an industry standard amount, and although a metal box restricted some of the foot space, I had stashed my personal item in the storage space under the window, so I didn’t have any issues being comfortable in the seat.


Pairs of window seats shared a single universal charging port plug between them, and each seat had a USB-A charging plug next to the inflight entertainment screen.

Each seat had a decent recline via a manual button on the left armrest, where the headphone jack was also located.


The bi-fold tray table was just large enough for my 15-inch Macbook Pro.


Four bathrooms with touch-free taps were available to upper deck economy passengers — two at the front shared with the 55-seat premium economy cabin and two between the two economy cabins. The flight was not full, so there was rarely a wait to use them, and they were kept clean and stocked during the flight.


Amenities in British Airways economy

Waiting on each seat was a decent-size pillow and a thin blanket.


Low-quality earbud headphones were distributed; unfortunately, the older IFE system did not have Bluetooth connectivity, which is a great new perk on some modern aviation products.


The seatback screen was disappointing, as the resolution felt low and the touchscreen sluggish. The retro-design remote control was fiddly to use but allowed me to choose from 48 new release movies, including “PAW Patrol,” “Priscilla” and “The Equalizer 3.”

Rather than spend the nine-hour daytime flight watching the older model screen with mediocre headphones, I connected to the onboard Wi-Fi with a one-hour pass costing 5 British pounds (about $6.20). The carrier also offers flight passes that cost 18 British pounds (about $22.50).

I registered an excellent download speed of 19 Mbps but only recorded an upload speed of 0.08 Mbps. Still, it made for a productive office in the sky.


How was the food in British Airways economy?

Shortly after takeoff, the crew passed through the cabin, offering drinks with a small packet of baked pretzels. Beer, wine and spirits were included, though no menus were offered, so it was difficult to determine what was available.


Around 60 minutes after departure, lunch was served. The lack of menus meant the crew had to explain the two entree options to each passenger, slowing down the service.

I was offered a choice of chicken with mashed potatoes and vegetables, or rigatoni pasta with courgettes.


I chose the pasta, which was handed to me on a tray with a grain salad appetizer, a white dinner roll with butter, cheese and crackers, a bottle of still water and a berry crumble with custard for dessert.

Award-winning airline caterer Do & Co provided the catering for this British Airways flight; the quality was evident. Everything on the tray was delicious. The tasty pasta included a generous serving of creamy pesto sauce and had me scraping the container clean.


Midway through the flight, the crew passed through the cabin handing out chocolate-covered ice cream bars. Mine arrived a little battered and bruised and needed to be eaten quickly before it disintegrated.

While I always find it odd to serve a second dessert just a few hours after the first, a retired British Airways cabin crew member recently advised me this was a long-standing tradition at the airline designed to be a sweet treat you can easily consume while concentrating on a movie during a longer daytime flight.


One hour and 15 minutes before arrival in Miami, the crew offered a prearrival snack of a hot chicken or vegetarian lattice pastry. I’ve eaten countless versions of these on British Airways flights, and while less impressive than the lunch service, it was a perfectly acceptable and tasty snack to fill the gap before dinner.


The crew working the World Traveller cabin on this A380 flight was in high spirits, with plenty of smiles and jokes about how nice it was to escape the dreary London winter to jet off somewhere warm and sunny.

The crew regularly passed through the cabin offering pre-poured trays of water or orange juice, though I was a little surprised not to see any snacks set up in the rear galley for peckish passengers.

With some spare seats in the cabin, the crew was relaxed yet efficient, which made for a peaceful and civilized journey across the Atlantic.

Would you recommend British Airways economy?

If you can snag one of the window seats on the upper deck of a British Airways A380 aircraft, do so. It is one of the most comfortable ways to cross the Atlantic in economy. The small cabins and extra personal space and storage afforded by the bins under the window made it feel more like flying in premium economy.

The product could be improved with printed menus and an upgraded inflight entertainment screen with Bluetooth headphone capability, but these are minor suggestions.

British Airways will refurbish its A380 fleet over the coming years to update the aging Club World seats to the modern Club Suites. The refurbishment may see all economy seats relegated to the lower deck, with the business-class cabin potentially running to the aircraft’s rear, as other airlines have opted for, so fly it while you can.

Until then, along with Delta Air Lines’ Boeing 767, this is one of the better economy experiences between Europe and North America.