It seems like British Airways is now actively selling Upgrade Offers at check-in counters. (They were not before.)

Due to a last minute arrangement, I could not get a decent Club World fare from Vancouver to London, then returning from Dublin to Vancouver.  Instead, I booked into economy (World Traveller) for CAD 907; actually I only paid CAD 707 by using my American Express annual credit of CAD 200.

At the BA check-in counter in Vancouver Airport, I was offered an upgrade from World Traveller (economy) to World Traveller Plus (premium economy) for CAD 520 one way, or Club World (business) for CAD 905 one way. There was a printed sheet listing out the prices, displayed openly on the counter. The check-in staff explicitly asked if I want to pay for an upgrade. On top of the Avios points, you will also get the full BA tier points.

I was tempted but I declined, primarily because of the hard product. BA flies a fleet of aging 20+ year old Boeing 747-400 on this route for most part of the year (only replacing them with Airbus A380 between May and Sep). I have flown on these 747 aircrafts in Club World quite a few times, and regretably, I do not have much good words for them. The sooner they retire this fleet, the better. Firstly, although the Club World seats are lie-flat, they are not comfortable, and very narrow. And I especially do not like the reverse seating of the neighbour. It is very odd to be inches away from the face of your neighbour, particularly amongst strangers. The inflight entertainment is equally poor and must be at least 2-3 generations behind. With the exception of a few Club World seats, most do not have direct aisle access. Either you have to climb over someone’s legs, or someone has to climb over yours.

Transposing the upgrade offers, on the Club World, if I had taken up the offer for the entire trip, it would work out to CAD 2,717  ($907 + $905 + $905). At this rate, this is not a good offer. This is pretty much a standard Club World fare.

If I had taken up the World Traveller Plus, it would work out to CAD 1947 ($907 + $520 +$520). Once again, this is a very poor offer. This is a standard published premium economy fare. With British Airways, the premium economy is anything but premium. It is just not worth paying that sort of money for something that is really sub-par. I have nothing good to say about BA’s World Traveller Plus on its Boeing 747-400 fleet.

Our position with respect to considering whether to accept check-in upgrade offers: know the hard product first.  If it is an Airbus A380, A350 (not in BA fleet yet), Boeing B787 or B777 (some), it is worth considering but only if it represents some great discounts from the standard fares. In the examples above, they clearly were not. Avoid Boeing 747-400 and Boeing 767 – they are very dated.

PS – At London Heathrow Terminal 5 First Class check-in: when I was checking-in for Heathrow to Dublin flight, I was offered £79 to upgrade to Club Europe one way. This was an easy decision. A big NO. BA Club Europe is really a standard seat; there are three seats in a row, they block the middle seat. That’s all. But you do get complimentary food (but for frequent flyers, they probably have loaded up in the lounge prior to the flight). The flight is only 50 minutes – what’s there to enjoy? Nothing. Not even a short documentary.


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