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British Airways Review: Prices, Experience, Baggage Size & Is It Safe?

British Airways Review: Prices, Experience, Baggage Size & Is It Safe?
Nicolle Harwood-Nash
Last Updated: April 22, 2024

British Airways is the flag carrier of the United Kingdom, headquartered in London, England. It is the largest UK-based carrier based on fleet size and passengers carried.

Our team has flown on several British Airways flights throughout the years. This in-depth review contains our experiences with the airline.

Throughout this article, you will find, amongst others, how easy it is to book a ticket compared to other airlines, thoughts on the seating space and cabin interior, and, lastly, our in-flight experiences.

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Ticket Purchasing

the British airways website where you can purchase tickets

Purchasing British Airways tickets is a typically straightforward task, thanks to the multiple channels on offer. The official website is a go-to portal, providing an intuitive and secure platform where detailed flight information and booking options are available, whether on your home computer or via a mobile device.

What we liked about British Airways is how transparent they are with their pricing and that we could use many purchasing methods to buy our tickets on the BA website.

The app is just as easy to use. Simply install it and you can book tickets, either with cash or miles, just as fast. You can also reserve seats (if you want those with more leg room) and purchase checked luggage.

The only problems we encountered when using the app were the spammy notifications, that wouldn’t stop coming. But that’s an easy fix – just block them from your phone’s settings.


The check-in process with British Airways can be done 24 hours before the flight departure. This is a bit shorter period compared to other airlines. For example, Air France allows its passengers to start checking in 30 hours before the flight.

You can check in just as easily from your phone, via the British Airways app, or a desktop computer. The process of online check-in is just as easy as with any other airline. Just select your booking, then go through all the usual steps until you get your boarding passes. If, for some reason, you have problems doing it at home, you can always do an airport check-in with the help of the customer service staff.

Most of the time, I do my check-ins from the desktop, simply because I have a bigger screen, but the few times I did it from the app it was just as easy. And speaking of the app, don’t forget to install it, as you can use it to show your boarding pass.

Pro tip: in some airports, I had no data signal and I couldn’t access the app. That’s why, right after check-in I take a screenshot of the app.

Add-on: British Airways App Review

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British Airways

By enabling you to choose your seat and print your boarding pass ahead of time, BA's online check-in process can reduce the stress of travel and provide a more streamlined airport experience.

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Airport Experience

If you fly BA, you should arrive at the airport 2-3 hours prior to departure, depending on the airport.

Today, I'm going to share my experience boarding a British Airlines flight from London Heathrow, as this is one of the airports that has the largest number of BA flights. This is also where a lot of transatlantic passengers must switch to their connecting flight.

As a side note, BA also operates flights out of Gatwick Airport in London, but the total number is much smaller.

First of all, it's worth mentioning that if you are traveling in First, Club World, or Club Europe, you can use the dedicated Fast Track Security lanes at Heathrow Airport. The queues in these lanes are typically much shorter and move more quickly than the regular security lanes. So you can easily arrive at the airport at least 30 minutes later.

What I really like about BA is that it has 3 different lounges at London Heathrow Airport: The Concorde Room, reserved for First Class passengers, The Galleries Lounge, reserved for passengers who are flying in Club World or World Traveller Plus and Gold Executive Club members, and the Club Lounge, available to passengers who are flying in Club World, World Traveller Plus, or who are Silver or Bronze Executive Club members with a complimentary upgrade.

Before my flight, I spent an hour at the Club Lounge. Here, you can enjoy a selection of complimentary food and drinks. The hot snacks and sandwiches I found quite good.

The seats in the Club Lounge are comfortable and some are placed near power outlets and USB charging ports.

Unlike other lounges, the Club lounge also has a quiet area, where you can work in peace, and showers.


a BA airplane at the gate at Heathrow

British Airways typically boards from airport terminals, making use of aero bridges whenever possible. However, in some airports, a shuttle bus may transport you from the terminal to the aircraft.

There are up to 9 boarding groups, depending on the size of the aircraft. The first one is for passengers with disabilities, families with small children, Executive Club Gold members. Group 2 is for Executive Club Silver members, Business Class passengers, while the third one for Executive Club Bronze members, Premium Economy Class passengers.

Starting with Group 4, Economy Class passengers are allowed to board. If you want to be among the first to board, you should get a sit towards the back of the airplane.

 If at any time you have difficulty finding your seat, a flight attendant is always ready to give you a hand.

Airplane Interior

The British Airways fleet includes several types of aircraft, with different interiors. Because I did all of my flying in Europe, I'm only going to write about the interior of one of the flights I took with one of its Airbus A320 aircraft.

The interior of this aircraft is both comfortable and stylish. The cabin is spacious and well-lit, with large overhead bins where you can easily store your carry-on luggage. If you have a problem with lifting your troller, like I do sometimes, you can always ask the cabin crew for help.

The seats are comfortable and have a good amount of legroom even if you are flying economy class.

The business class, called Club Europe, uses the same seats, so the experience is not much different.

Seat Space

British Airways' seating, specifically the amount of legroom, varies across different aircraft and classes, though each class is designed with passenger comfort and space in mind. The exact seat dimensions and space within each class can also vary depending on the aircraft model, so it's worth checking specifics when booking your flight. You can find more general information pertaining to seat space below:

Economy Class (World Traveller)

In Economy Class, also known as World Traveller, BA offers ergonomically designed seats with adjustable headrests for comfort. The typical seat pitch, being the distance between your seat and the one in front, varies between 73.5cm and 78.5cm, providing adequate legroom for the average passenger. If you're looking for extra legroom, consider booking an exit-row seat, which typically offers more space. However, these seats may come at a fee and with additional safety responsibilities.

Premium Economy (World Traveller Plus)

In Premium Economy, or World Traveller Plus, you can enjoy wider seats and more legroom, with a seat pitch of approximately 96.5cm. The seats also offer greater recline compared to Economy Class, adding to the comfort of long-haul journeys. For those desiring even more space, exit row seats in this class can be a good choice.

Business Class (Club World)

Club World, British Airways' Business Class, offers flat-bed seats ensuring optimum comfort. The seats are set in a 'yin-yang' layout, ensuring that all passengers have aisle access. With a generous seat pitch of 182.5cm in a fully flat position, space is not an issue in Club World. It's worth noting that this cabin class is only available on some aircraft and routes.

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British Airways Service

British Airways is renowned for its high-quality service. And I've experienced this first hand. Every time I flew with British Airways, the staff was professional and polite. The flight attendants walk the cabin through the entire flight and are always ready to help you with anything.

However, like any airline, experiences can vary and there may be occasional inconsistencies with the level of onboard service.

Food & Drink

When it comes to food and drink, British Airways provides a variety of options that cater to different tastes and dietary requirements. Depending on the duration of your flight and the class of service, you can expect anything from a small snack to a full meal service.

Because I was flying as a Premium Economy member on my return flight form London Heathrow, I got to enjoy one of the flight meals. This consisted of a complimentary snack and a drink.

However, for long-haul flights, this often includes a choice of main, accompanied by a starter, dessert, and beverages, including a selection of wines and spirits.

Customer Support

From my experience, the British Airways customer relations service has always been high quality. Throughout my experience with them, I called British Airways customer support line several times and I always got the help I needed, from information about their baggage policy to ticket changes.

The only time when you shouldn't call the service is to book a ticket because they charge a fee. Just go to the website and buy it yourself.

Flight Disruptions

Like all airlines, British Airways flights can occasionally be subject to disruptions such as delays or cancellations. These interruptions can be due to a variety of reasons, from adverse weather conditions to technical issues or air traffic control restrictions.

When faced with a BA delay of 3 hours or more, or a flight cancellation, you may be entitled to certain remedies under UK261, including the right to flight delay compensation or cancelled flight compensation. The amount of compensation can range from £220 to £520, depending on the flight distance and the length of the delay or notice of cancellation.

The specifics of British Airways' delayed or cancelled flight compensation can be found on the airline's website. It's important to note that compensation is not due if the disruption was caused by 'extraordinary circumstances' that could not have been avoided by the airline, even if all reasonable measures had been taken.

In some cases, including cancellations and delayed flights in excess of 5 hours, you may also be entitled to a flight refund instead of rerouting, in accordance with your passenger rights.

How to make a complaint

If you've experienced a disruption with BA and wish to submit a complaint, you can do so directly through the airline's official website. The British Airways complaints process typically involves filling out an online form where you describe your issue, provide flight details, and attach any relevant documents. It's important to keep a record of all communication and make sure you have all your flight details handy, as these will be required for submitting the complaint.

It's worth noting that the process can sometimes be lengthy and requires a good understanding of the passenger rights outlined in UK261. This is where AirAdvisor can step in to streamline the process, particularly when compensation is involved. Our legal experts have a thorough understanding of passenger rights and can quickly determine if you're eligible for compensation.

You simply provide us with your flight details, and we handle the rest, from submitting the complaint to pursuing the claim with the airline. We also operate on a 'no win, no fee' basis. This means you don't have to pay anything unless we successfully secure your compensation.

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Flying British Airways Conclusion

a BA airplane taking off

In conclusion, British Airways is a brand that consistently resonates with the positive aspects of air travel for many. With a keen focus on maintaining high service standards, offering a varied fleet, and prioritising safety, the airline has carved out a favourable reputation.

Despite the occasional service hiccup, many travellers, myself included, find BA to be reliable, with commendable levels of comfort and customer care. Their ability to manage their services under various constraints and commitment to passenger rights adds to their credibility in the global aviation industry.

About British Airways

British Airways is a flag carrier airline of the United Kingdom. Headquartered in London, it's one of the world's leading airlines in terms of global reach, flight offerings, and service quality. BA began operations in 1974, emerging from a merger of four companies, which were British Overseas Airways Corporation, British European Airways, Cambrian Airways, and Northeast Airlines.

Today, the airline is known for its comprehensive network of domestic and international flights, serving over 180 destinations, including 6 domestic ones. Renowned for its high standards of customer service and safety, British Airways has played a crucial role in shaping the aviation industry. The airline's fleet comprises state-of-the-art aircraft that combine comfort, reliability, and innovation.

FAQ / Common Questions: British Airways

If you feel like you still have unanswered questions regarding BA, the below FAQs section might be helpful in addressing them:

Is BA a reliable airline?

Yes, British Airways is generally considered a reliable airline.

As mentioned, it's the UK's flag carrier and also one of the oldest airlines in operation today. It operates on a vast network of routes both domestically and internationally, and it has earned a reputation for consistent performance, punctuality, and safety. BA has a strong safety record, employs experienced pilots and crew members, and operates well-maintained, modern aircraft, which all contribute to its reliability.

Are British Airways flights really cheap?

In short, no. Though, while BA isn't a budget airline, the prices of its flights can be quite competitive, especially when taking into account the breadth and quality of services it provides. The fare typically includes certain amenities such as free meals and drinks on long-haul flights, free seat selection 24 hours before departure, and a generous free baggage allowance. British Airways also has regular sales and offers that can make their flights more affordable.

How uncomfortable is BA?

The comfort level on British Airways flights can depend on various factors such as the specific aircraft type, the class in which you're travelling, and personal preferences. Generally, the airline is known for offering a comfortable experience to its passengers. Even in Economy Class, seats are designed with adjustable headrests and lumbar support, and on long-haul flights, you're provided with blankets and pillows. Business and first-class offer even more comfort with flat-bed seats and extra amenities.

Does British Airways give free water?

Yes, BA provides free water and other beverages on all its flights. Regardless of the length of the flight or the class in which you're travelling, British Airways ensures passengers stay hydrated by offering regular drinks services throughout the flight.

Can I take a 10kg bag on BA for free?

Yes, you can. The British Airways carry-on policy generally allows passengers in all classes to carry one piece of hand luggage and one small item (like a laptop or handbag) onboard. While BA doesn't explicitly specify a weight limit for hand luggage, they require that you be able to lift and store your hand luggage without assistance and that it meet certain size requirements.

For example, hand luggage should not exceed 56cm x 45cm x 25cm (including handles and wheels) and must be able to fit into the overhead locker or under the seat in front of you. The smaller item must not be larger than 40cm x 30cm x 15cm and should fit under the seat in front of you.

British Airways' checked baggage allowance varies depending on the class of service and ticket type, typically ranging from 23kg for Economy and Premium Economy Class passengers to 32kg for Business and First Class passengers. As this policy is subject to change, it's always best to check the details directly on the BA's website.

Why do people not like British Airways?

While many passengers have positive experiences with BA, some criticisms include unexpected delays or cancellations, inconsistent quality of in-flight meals, or perceived shortcomings in customer service. However, customer experience can vary greatly from flight to flight, and British Airways generally receives more positive feedback than negative.

Has BA ever crashed?

In 2008, a British Airways Boeing 777-236ER flying from Beijing, China to London Heathrow, England, crash-landed just short of the runway at Heathrow due to a fuel system problem caused by ice. Although the plane was severely damaged, all 152 passengers and crew on board survived, with only a few minor injuries reported.

While this incident is notable, it's essential to remember that it represents a tiny proportion of the flights that British Airways has operated in its history. The airline adheres to rigorous international safety standards, maintaining one of the strongest safety records in the aviation industry.

Does British Airways fly Boeing or Airbus?

BA operates a diverse fleet of both Boeing and Airbus aircraft. This includes Boeing 747s, 777s, 787 Dreamliners, and Airbus A320s, A350s, among others. The specific aircraft for your flight would depend on the route and schedule.

Does BA cancel flights often?

While it's impossible to guarantee that flights will never be cancelled, it's fair to say that British Airways does not frequently cancel flights. As a major global airline, BA operates a robust network with multiple daily flights on many routes, which gives it considerable flexibility in managing its schedule. They also have extensive experience and resources to anticipate and respond to potential issues that could lead to cancellations.

Flight cancellations are typically the last resort for any airline, as they lead to logistical complexities and potential reputational damage. BA follows industry standards to avoid cancellations whenever possible. However, unforeseen circumstances such as severe weather, air traffic control directives, or mechanical issues may sometimes necessitate cancellations.

The airline is also subject to UK and EU regulations, which mandate compensation and assistance to passengers in case of significant delays or cancellations. Therefore, British Airways, like other airlines, has a vested interest in minimising cancellations to provide a reliable service and avoid financial penalties.

Will British Airways automatically refund Cancelled flights?

If BA cancels a flight, they will typically offer you the option to rebook on a later flight, a re-routing under comparable conditions, or a full refund. The choice lies with you. However, it's important to note that the refund or rebooking process is not automatic - you need to contact the airline to arrange this.

Is BA food free?

Yes, British Airways does provide free food on its flights. The nature of the meal depends on the duration and time of the flight. On long-haul international flights, you're typically served a full meal that includes a starter, main course, dessert, and beverages, including a selection of wines and spirits. On shorter domestic or European flights, you receive complimentary snacks and beverages.

If you have specific dietary requirements, BA offers a range of special meals that must be pre-ordered at least 24 hours before the flight. However, it's always good to check the latest service provisions at the time of booking, as they may occasionally adjust their onboard offerings.

How can I avoid British Airways baggage fees?

To avoid BA baggage fees, it's important to stay within the airline's baggage allowance, which differs depending on your ticket class.

Generally, British Airways allows one piece of hand luggage and one personal item in the cabin. If you're travelling in Economy Class on a long-haul flight, you're typically allowed one piece of checked luggage up to 23kg free of charge. Business and First Class passengers are allowed additional or heavier bags.

Where is the best place to sit on a BA plane?

The best place to sit on a British Airways plane depends on your preferences. If legroom is your priority, you may want to book an exit-row seat. These provide more space but may come at a fee and with additional safety responsibilities.

For quieter seating, try to find a seat as far away from the engines as possible, usually towards the front of the plane. The very front of each cabin section tends to be quieter and provides quicker service.

If you're travelling on a twin-aisle aircraft, the window seats in the centre section can give you direct aisle access while still providing the advantage of a window view.

How old are British Airways planes?

The average age of BA's fleet is about 14 years, which is generally typical for most large airlines. The fleet consists of a mix of older and newer planes, with the Boeing 747s and some Boeing 777s being among the oldest, and the Airbus A350s and Boeing 787 Dreamliners being among the newest. Regular maintenance ensures that all aircraft, regardless of their age, meet strict safety and performance standards.

Does BA run on time?

British Airways, like any large airline, aims to operate its flights on time. However, punctuality can be influenced by a range of factors, including operational issues, air traffic control restrictions, and weather conditions. While no airline can guarantee 100% on-time performance, BA generally has a solid on-time performance record.

The airline is regularly ranked among the top major airlines for punctuality, but it's always wise to check recent performance statistics for the most accurate information.

How to get a good seat on British Airways without paying?

Securing a good seat without paying extra on BA can be a bit of a gamble, but there are ways to increase your chances. If you don't choose and pay for a specific seat, British Airways will automatically assign one for you when online check-in opens, which is 24 hours before the flight. At this point, you can check if any desirable seats are available for free.

Flying off-peak or on less busy routes might increase your chances of getting a good seat without paying. Additionally, BA’s Executive Club members can usually select their seats for free from a certain period before their flight, depending on their tier level.

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