When it comes to flying, there are so many airlines to choose from, traveling to almost every destination in the world. The cost of your ticket is bound to be a massive factor in deciding which airline is best for your trip, but you should also think about the in-flight experience, too. If you’re heading on a long-haul journey, the service will be a big part of your flight, as will the entertainment available and the kinds of food you’ll be served while you build up an appetite.
To help you make a decision between two of the globe’s busiest airlines, we’ll be taking a look at British Airways vs American Airlines. American Airlines is the world’s most used airline, carrying over 200 million passengers each year. In comparison, British Airways is the UK’s largest international carrier. It carries around 45 million passengers a year to destinations all around the globe.
Our comparison guide is designed to help you find out more about both British Airways and American Airlines. From what they both offer with their in-flight entertainment, food and additional charges, we’ll take a close look at all the points that are likely to be important to you, to help you make your final decision. At the end of this guide, we hope that you’ll be armed with more information to be able to go ahead and confidently book your trip.
The main differences between British Airways and American Airlines
To help you see some of the main differences between the airlines at a glance, we’ve put some of the top-line details side by side to you can compare and contrast the two. Take a look at some of the key differences below to see which one might work best for you.
- British Airways flies 45 million passengers a year, while American Airlines carries 200 million.
- There are 7 cabin options available with British Airways, while American Airlines offers 8.
- British Airways has a top quality punctuality record, whereas American Airlines flights are routinely delayed.
- American Airlines offers an additional luxury sleep set with a range of extras, while British Airways has partnered with The White Company on a range of premium skincare essentials.
British Airways vs American Airlines – Which airline should you use?
Whether you’ve never used British Airways or American Airlines before or need a refresher on what’s new, we’re about to go in-depth with some of the pros, cons and key features of both to give you the information you need to help you decide whether one of them is right for you. We’ve also gathered some real-life reviews from travelers who have used both airlines to get a genuine view on their experiences so you can see what they’re really like.
To understand more about British Airways, here are some fast facts for you. A British Airways aircraft takes off from somewhere in the world every 90 seconds. The airline carries up to 145,000 customers every day and 45 million customers a year. And of those passengers, 25 million cups of tea, 9.9 million bottles of wine and 1.25 million bottles of Champagne are served to them as they fly.
British Airways also has the best punctuality record on flights departing from London when compared to all the large short-haul carriers in the UK. To improve their systems and offer a better service to passengers, they are currently focusing on a number of digital technology advances to make flying even easier.
When it comes to traveling, there are 7 fare options available to choose from.
One of British Airways’ best-value economy cabins, Euro Traveller is best for saving you money whilst you explore Europe. On one of these flights, you’ll experience contoured leather seats, fully movable headrests, eye-level magazine storage, complimentary newspapers on most flights and LED lighting that adjusts throughout the flight to help you relax.
There are also three fare structures: Basic, Plus and Plus Flex. Basic is more affordable but offers you hand luggage, Plus includes hand luggage and offers flexibility, while Plus Flex is the most affordable option.
Another economy option, this fare is ideal for passengers traveling beyond Europe. With ergonomic seats and an adjustable headrest, it’s designed for comfort and you even get a comfy cushion and blanket, plus flight socks, an eye mask, toothbrush and toothpaste on request.
Again, there are two options: Basic and Standard. Basic is their lowest fare and allows you to take hand luggage on-board but allocates you a seat. The Standard package is fully-inclusive, with checked baggage and seat selection before you fly. Both packages includes delicious meals and bar service, and a personal flat screen TV and headphones to watch a range of shows and films.
World Traveller Plus:
This is British Airways’ first premium economy cabin. It’s quieter and more spacious than World Traveller, with fewer rows of seats and passengers. The meals on offer are better quality too, with seasonal menus created using the finest locally-sourced ingredients. You even get fine china and contemporary tableware to enjoy your meals from. Like World Traveller, you’ll receive headphones and flat screen TVs to watch films from, but you’ll receive a larger baggage allowance.
For business passengers traveling to and around Europe, Club Europe combines business with pleasure. The Club Europe cabin is located at the front of the plane, and British Airways always keeps the middle seat free so that you’re guaranteed a window or aisle seat with more personal space for working.
You’ll also receive access to the departure lounges, priority boarding, complimentary food and drinks, dedicated check-in desks to avoid the queues, a larger baggage allowance than Euro Traveller, and more Avios and Tier points each time you fly.
Club World London City:
According to British Airways, Club World London City is like having your own private jet. Club World London City is their exclusive business class service, operating between London and New York. There are only 32 spacious seats with fully flat beds, offering you the highest levels of comfort and flexibility.
You’ll also receive a personal iPad featuring the latest films and TV programmes, luxury bedding and an amenity kit designed by The White Company. There’s also access to UK, EU and US power sockets for laptops and other devices available if you need them. The gourmet food is designed by some of the world’s top chefs, and if you really want to relax and unwind, you can enjoy a luxury facial or massage from Elemis – acclaimed skincare brand.
One of the most premium cabins on offer, with Club World your flight is an experience in comfort and fine dining. Whatever you’re looking to do, whether it’s relaxing, working or sleeping, your seat is an armchair, bed, dining table, and office in one. All meals on a Cabin World flight come with a personal touch, inspired by some of the world’s best chefs, and all drinks and meals are hand delivered.
When it comes to the extras, you’ll be able to use one of the elegant lounges before you fly, enjoy faster check-in and boarding, and pack more for your trip with extra baggage allowance. To top it all off, there’s the opportunity to pamper yourself on-board with a luxury amenity kit from The White Company.
In September 2019, British Airways will be reimagining their Club World cabins on selected flights, offering even more comfort than ever before.
This is the most premium in-flight experience available with British Airways. You’ll get your own personal suite, ranging from only 7 or 14 seats depending on which aircraft you fly with, as well as a larger personal screen with ports that can connect to your own devices, a brand new touchscreen handset and state-of-the-art noise cancelling headphones. You’ll also be treated to luxury meals, including afternoon tea, a selection of Champagnes and an à la carte menu.
On the ground, you’ll get access to British Airways’ elegant departure lounges, including The Concorde Room, which is their most exclusive departure lounge exclusive to London Heathrow Terminal 5 and New York JFK Terminal 7. Here you’ll be treated to a discreet booth, full waiter service, private cabanas and a state-of-the-art business suite.
- Its home base is at London Heathrow, which is the world’s busiest international airport.
- British Airways travels to more than 200 destinations in 75 countries.
- British Airways has a fleet of more than 280 aircraft.
- You can join British Airways’ loyalty scheme, the British Airways Executive Club. This gives passengers Avios on every flight taken, which can be used on flights, upgrades, seat selection, car hire, hotel accommodation and excursions.
- Gold and Silver Executive Club members have access to British Airways global network of premium lounges, fast-track security and priority boarding.
- A total of approximately 45,000 employees work for British Airways, including 16,500 cabin crew and 3,900 pilots.
- There are 7 travel classes available; Euro Traveller, World Traveller, World Traveller Plus, Club Europe, Club World London City, Club World and First Class.
- British Airways has partnered with popular UK brand M&S, offering high-quality sandwiches and snacks that you can purchase on-board on of their economy flights.
- There are various fare options to cater for every budget.
- All flights offer top-quality in-flight entertainment, with complimentary headphones so you can enjoy films and TV shows in peace.
- There are complimentary drinks and snacks options on every flight.
- British Airways are known to have very good quality service.
- The lounges are incredibly comfortable with plenty of perks.
- Avios rewards have been criticised for not offering enough benefits.
- The speed of service can sometimes be slow, especially on delayed flights.
Travellers’ popular opinion on British Airways
To get an accurate view on the British Airways experience, we’ve taken a look at some real-life reviews from passengers who have used the airline to see what they thought of their experience.
- One passenger loved the attentiveness of the cabin crew, who delivered outstanding customer care.
- Another passenger enjoyed the comfort of the flight despite the fact it was full.
- One traveler liked the amount of baggage allowance they received, as well as decent legroom and the professional and courteous service.
- Another traveler unfortunately didn’t receive a good experience as safety brochures were taped over the windows as the window shutters were open. Her colleague’s TV screen was also broken, so she couldn’t enjoy the entertainment.
American Airlines is the largest airline in the world, with nearly 200 million passengers traveling on one of their flights annually. There are over 6,500 daily flights traveling to over 330 destinations around the world, and the company plans to increase its feet size by over 100 aircraft.
The lowest main cabin fare, Basic Economy allows you to bring 1 free carry-on plus a personal item with you on-board to any destination around the world. Although you’ll have restrictions, you’ll get a comfy seat as well as complimentary snacks, soft drinks and entertainment. For a small fee, you can choose your own seat otherwise one will be allocated for you.
A Main Cabin ticket allows you to choose a seat for free before your flights, as well taking on 1 personal item and 1 carry-on bag. You’ll enjoy meals on your journey, as well as ice cream and alcoholic drinks that you can order with your food. In-flight entertainment is available to enjoy, too.
Main Cabin Extra:
A seat in Main Cabin Extra offers a little more of everything. For an extra $20, you can get more space and extra legroom in the Main Cabin. As well as all the perks of the Main Cabin, you’ll also receive free snacks and alcoholic drinks, free entertainment and the opportunity to purchase wifi on-board. You’ll also be one of the first to get on the plane.
This fare offers you speedy check-in, security and boarding, as well as receiving your checked bags first when you land. In the air, you’ll enjoy wider, adjustable leather seats with extendable head and footrests. Chef-inspired dining is also on the menu, with free entertainment, noise-reducing headphones and wifi. If you need to work, there are USB ports and power outlets to help get the job done. And for an added touch, you’ll receive a luxury amenity bag and a Casper sleep set.
On shorter international flights, a Business ticket offers a high-quality level of service. When you’re in the airport, you’ll be sped through check-in, security and boarding more quickly. You can also chill out in American Airlines’ airport lounges before you fly.
When you’re in the air, you’ll sit in wider seats with more legroom. All entertainment is free, and you’ll get access to a larger menu and an award-winning wine list. If you wish to hunker down and go to sleep, relax with the complimentary pillows and blankets.
A flight on First Class gives you access to America Airlines’ best service. You’ll enjoy priority boarding at the airport, and there’s the opportunity to add Five Star Service to get assistance with your departure, connection or arrival.
On-board, your seat will have wider space and extra legroom, free in-flight entertainment and wifi. When it comes to the menu, American Airlines have partnered with acclaimed chef and Dallas restaurateur Julian Barsott, making the menu extra special.
If you’re flying long haul, Flagship Business is a premium experience for international travel. Like the other premium flight options, you’ll get speedy boarding and check in, as well as access to the Five Star Service. Enjoy the airport lounges and if you’re flying to London, refresh with spa showers, breakfast and a lunch buffet.
When you’re in the air, enjoy lie-flat seats, chef-inspired dining and free entertainment. Unlike all other cabins, you’ll receive Bose®QuietComfort® 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling® headphones and will even get access to live TV on select flights. You’ll receive top-quality amenities to help you freshen up and relax, too.
American Airlines’ most exclusive cabin, receive priority privileges, fine dining in the airport lounges, and a shower to freshen up. You’ll also receive the best amenities from leading skincare and lifestyle brands Allies of Skin and This is Ground, as well as the Casper sleep set which includes pajamas, slippers, mattress pads, pillows and blankets.
You’ll always receive a fully lie-flat seat on a Boeing 777-300 with aisle access so you will arrive to your destination feeling fully refreshed. You can also choose when you eat, with a multi-course meal complete with award-winning wines.
- Free films, TV shows and music is available on over 1,100 American Airlines flights.
- Wifi is free on flights, and you can connect to the internet using your own device.
- Dallas Fort Worth is American Airlines’ main hub.
- There are a total of 126,600 American Airlines employees.
- There are 930 aircraft in the fleet.
- They offer the AAdvantage program, which is the loyalty scheme that offers you discounts, upgrades, car rentals, hotels and other retail products.
- American Airlines offers 8 travel classes available; Basic Economy, Main Cabin, Main Cabin Extra, Premium Economy, Business, First, Flagship Business and Flagship First.
- There are loads of class options to choose from to suit every budget.
- You get complimentary snacks and drinks on every flight.
- In-flight entertainment is top quality.
- American Airlines have teamed with Casper to create a sleep set to help passengers rest and relax on premium cabin flights.
- American Airlines has been known to suffer from lengthy delays.
- Customer service on the ground has received mixed reviews.
Travellers’ popular opinion on American Airlines
We’ve gathered some thoughts from real-life passengers who have already used American Airlines for their trip. Take a look below at what some of them had to say.
- One passenger thought that the flight went great, the boarding and deplaning was fast and their first class attendant was excellent. They also enjoyed the breakfast.
- Another passenger thought that the food on offer was better than the average food found on a flight.
- One person was stranded at the airport but thought the American Airlines team went above and beyond to help them out.
- One traveler complained that there were many delays with their flight, but there seemed to be no-one around to talk to about it.
Both well-known airlines in their respective countries and around the world, both British Airways and American Airlines offer many reasons to keep going back for more. From the cost of a ticket, to the cabin options on offer – and not forgetting the added extras you get on the air and on-board, there are plenty of things to consider when you book to fly with either airline, so we’ve rounded up our final thoughts.
Generally speaking, one of the main benefits to flying with either airline is that they’re both part of the Oneworld airline alliance. This means that you can benefit from comfortable lounges in locations all around the world to enjoy a better flight experience, as well as being much better connected to flights and airports. This is a tick in the box for both, offering a seamless travel experience.
American Airlines does have more cabin options to choose from – 8 compared to British Airways’ 7, but we found that there was a better distinction between the fares on a British Airways flight, making it much easier to weigh up the cost of your ticket compared to the added benefits on offer. American Airlines seems to only add small extras to each higher-tier fare option, so when it comes to what’s worth paying extra for, save your money to travel in style with British Airways.
Food and entertainment also play a huge part of your trip, especially on long-haul flights, and with so many great shows on offer, TVs on the back of your seat and chef-inspired dining, both British Airways and American Airlines are neck and neck. One tiny added bonus British Airways has is that on their economy flights, they’ve partnered with M&S, which is considered a high-end British supermarket and so their sandwiches and snacks are far better than average. Many passengers have complimented the cabin crew on both airlines as being incredibly helpful and polite, so the overall in-flight experience seems to be great on the two airlines in general.
If we had to pick an overall winner, British Airways just edges it. They’ve freshened up a lot of their in-flight offerings in recent years and it really shows. However, with an investment in digital technology and with a rapidly expanding fleet, American Airlines is very close behind. Watch this space…
Frequently asked questions about British Airways and American Airlines
While British Airways and American Airlines are very much their own separate airlines, they (along with Cathay Pacific, Qantas, and Canadian Airlines, among others) formed the Oneworld airline alliance in 1999. This alliance allows you to benefit from more than 3,500 planes, 1,000 airports and 650 lounges to ensure your trip runs as smoothly as possible.
In 2018, British Airways freshened up their food options on their long-haul flights and now offer pretzels with a welcome drink, a four-course meal, a second meal or snack (which depends on the duration of your flight), sweet treats and drinks from the bar.
British Airways currently uses a fleet of 80 aircraft, which is set to grow significantly by 2020. The current aircraft models are as follows:
– Boeing 777-300
– Airbus A350-1000
– Airbus 380-800
– Boeing 747-400
– Boeing 787-9
– Boeing 777-200
– Boeing 787-8
– Airbus 321-200
– Airbus 320-200
– Embraer 190
– Airbus 319-100
– Airbus 318-100
– Embraer 170
If your flight is canceled, then American Airlines will most likely rebook you on the next available flight. If this doesn’t work for you, you can request a full refund or rebook on another flight online or through the customer service line. You shouldn’t be charged for any cancelation or change-of-flight fees.
Excluding American Eagle regional jets, there are power outlets in all first-class American Airline seats. Some power outlets are available in coach but only in some seats, and when you get to the back of the plane they’re only available in every 3-4 rows.
American Airlines operates a fleet of 956 aircraft – the largest in the world. Models include Airbus, Boeing, Embraer, and McDonnell Douglas planes.
Now that you’ve finished this review, we hope that you’re now armed with more information on the pros and cons of British Airways and American Airlines. Both are genuinely great airlines that offer a lot of benefits, so we’d love to know which one you ended up going for. If you’re looking for a bit of travel inspiration, why not check out the best things to do in Rochester, Minnesota.