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“Premium Economy Is A Joke”: British Airways’ Dirty Seat Goes Viral

“Premium Economy Is A Joke”: British Airways’ Dirty Seat Goes Viral
Jackie Reddy

How important is it to not find food, stains, or discarded articles of clothing in your premium economy seat? Film producer Lucy Darwin found out the hard way after she spent £4,700 ($6,073) on return tickets for herself and her husband from the UK to New York on British Airways (BA) earlier this month to sit in a dirty seat that she called “appalling.”

Crumbs, Stains And A Sock

Upon entering the plane and finding their seats as they prepared to depart for New York earlier this month, Darwin was dismayed to find their places covered in stains and crumbs, plus a dirty sock. In a tweet to the airline, Darwin said, “just arrived at our premium economy seat to New York (£4,700) to greeted by filth and someone’s sock. Outraged doesn’t quite cover it.”

Additional tweets from Darwin showed the extent of the mess – as well as black flight sock – on the seat plus what appeared to be remnants of food stuck and mashed into the surface of the tray table.

Speaking specifically of these latter photos, Darwin said, “It got worse…. cabin staff embarrassed and kind but this really is appalling.” Tweeting back to Darwin, BA said, “This certainly isn’t what you should expect when travelling with us, Lucy.” She was advised that her comments would be fed directly back to the airline.

Premium Economy Is A Joke”

Darwin’s posts received plenty of attention from fellow users, most of whom were quick to sympathize with her situation.

“Wow, I’ve had some bad experiences with BA, but this is terrible! BA are Defo in a downwards spiral,” one tweeted, while another said, “Premium economy is a joke. It’s just economy with a meal and a drink holder. I learned that the hard way.”

A spokesperson for BA offered official comment on the incident, saying, “We pride ourselves on the quality of the service and experience offered across all cabins on our aircraft. We know that our customers value a comfortable cabin, so our aircraft are cleaned after every flight.”

Speaking out about her experience with the airline last week, Darwin said on Twitter that she’d as yet had no response from BA.

Darwin and her husband were traveling to New York to attend the annual festival of the American Film Institute. Darwin produced the film He Dreams of Giants and was also credited for Lost in La Mancha and Match Point.

View Comments (6)


  1. nittfan

    November 20, 2019 at 11:40 pm

    I beg to differ with the title, but no – you’re NOT a A$$hole if you recline your seat when you need to due to back pain, OR when the person in front of you does so. In these cases, what is one to do? Everyone needs to get over the notion that a basic economy flight is going to be comfortable in any way; it is not. We all know it is going to involve some level of torture. Because I know this (reclining) is an issue, I rarely recline my chair to the full extent and never do so during drink or food service or for extended periods of time. The seats and pitch are so miserably uncomfortable anymore that it is no wonder that people will try to find someway to make a flight more tolerable.

  2. DCAFly

    November 21, 2019 at 9:57 am

    Hmmm, re: the first comment, either there was a moderator error or the vitriol of the seat back article has spilled over to other threads.

  3. irishguy28

    November 21, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    If someone paid £4,700 (!) for a premium economy seat, then they should at least have given them the matching sock

  4. zitsky

    November 21, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    It’s not like there was vomit on the seats. It’s a sock. Give it to the flight attendant or put on the floor. Brush the crumbs on the floor. Now “stains” maybe that’s a legitimate complaint. Did something stain your clothing?

  5. Superrman

    November 22, 2019 at 4:18 am

    £4,700 for a transatlantic flight in PE? If you’re stupid enough to book that then I struggle to have any sympathy.

  6. mvoight

    November 25, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    It was £4,700 total, not each.
    That said, given the price of regular economy, it might worth considering the price per hour difference
    That said, I just checked random dates for AA flights, and it is only about $1140 (USD) for a roundtrip in Jan between those cities, so it looks like they overpaid even for PE

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