By Florin R. Ferrs
(Premium Economy Specialist)
Let’s be clear: not all premium economy classes are created equal. Some are ‘more equal than others’ and some aren’t worth the trouble, while others outshine their “economy” label–but all that glitters is not always gold. There are currently only nine airlines that offer a true premium economy product originating in the USA. These airlines are Alitalia, ANA, British Airways, EVA Air, Japan Airlines, Qantas, Scandinavian Airlines, V Australia and Virgin Atlantic. The first thing one sees is that there are no USA-based carriers on the list. Sorry to break it to you, but those trumpeted Economy Plus seats that the American legacy carriers flog for an extra $50 are not real Premium Economy seats or service. A proper Premium Economy product should offer, among other things, a dedicated and separate space in the cabin, better legroom, a wider seat and top-notch catering and service that is more akin to business class, like free mimosas and ‘celebrity’ chef menus.
To Premium or not to Premium?
So, is it worth it?
When you are faced with a 12- to 20-hour flight and your boss won’t foot the Business Class bill, these real Premium Economy deals are a great money-saving alternative that doesn’t skimp on service. Of course, it’s not the same as a proper Business Class experience, but it’s worlds apart from the 10-seats-across coach cabins that some legacy airlines are currently flying. Just make sure that you are selecting one of the airlines mentioned above and read the small print to verify exactly what you will get, like exclusive lounge access, open bar, etc. I use vayama.com to score Premium Economy deals as they are one of the rare travel portals that actually have a Premium Economy search option in their “find a flight” box. They also offer discounted deals on Premium Economy that are not available anywhere else.
Compare Premium Economy Seats Across International Airlines
My top 4 Premium Economy Class Experiences
Alitalia’s Premium Economy is called Classica Plus. Passengers get 9 kg extra baggage allowance and a priority check-in desk at the airport. On board, Aliatalia offers a separate and cosy cabin of just 21 seats. Their comfy chairs are ergonomic and recline to 120 degrees, offering 20% more leg room than in economy class. Each seat comes with a 10-inch screen entertainment system, offering news and over 45 current movies. Extras include noise-cancelling headphones, a USB port, satellite telephone, blankets, pillows and complimentary make-up bag. The gourmet meals offer a tour of Italian regional cuisine and their best wines. Classica Plus passengers accrue up to 50% more miles as well.
Alitalia Cabin Video Tour Featuring Classica Plus
2) British Airways: New York to London, nonstop on Premium Economy from $1237 total.
BA’s Premium Economy product is called World Traveller Plus. They offer online check-in 24 hours before your flight and a quick baggage drop-off kiosk at the airport. They also offer a larger checked baggage allowance of 2 free bags (one free bag is the standard in regular coach class). On board, the World Traveller Plus cabin contains only six rows of seats, offering privacy and spaciousness. Complimentary bar service, a larger seat with adjustable headrest, lumbar support, leg rest, more legroom and greater seat recline complete the experience. Each seat comes with BA’s world-famous entertainment system and noise-cancelling headphones. The catering has been designed by leading chefs and serves all dietary preferences, from Kosher and Halal to vegetarian and gluten free. Power sockets to recharge your laptops are provided and World Traveller Plus passengers earn 25 % more miles.
BA’s World Traveler Plus Video Tour
Virgin Atlantic practically invented the Premium Economy concept, but V Australia has perfected it with flights over the Pacific, offering a real alternative to Business Class for less than half the price. V Australia’s Premium Economy features 50-inch-wide, all-leather seats that offer generous legroom and recline up to 22 inches. V Australia’s Premium Economy product also includes a full open bar, Australian wines and gourmet meals served on fine china, accompanied by V Australia’s RED entertainment system created by Panasonic.
V Australia Cabin Video Tour Featuring Premium Economy
4) Japan Airlines: San Francisco to Tokyo, nonstop on premium economy from $1943
Japan Airline’s Premium Economy features the new ‘JAL Sky Shell Seat’, the world’s first shell-shaped seat in premium economy class. The separate Premium Economy cabin has only 46 seats arranged in a 2-4-2 configuration. The Sky Shell Seat offers a 120-degree angle of recline and wider seat bases with a 38-inch seat pitch, resulting in 20% more legroom than on economy class. The seat’s hard shell design features a sliding back that ensures privacy. Power outlets for laptops are included and Premium Economy travellers receive the same amenities provided to customers in Business Class (ear plugs, eye and moisture masks, toothbrush, slippers, extra-large blankets and pillows, noise-cancelling headphones, etc). The entertainment system offers over 130 channels of movies, shows and music on individual 9-inch TV monitors. The catering includes full three-course meals as well as snacks and refreshments during the flight, including champagne, instant noodles and ice cream. Premium Economy passengers also get dedicated airport counters and access to the Japan Airlines lounge.
JAL Premium Economy Class
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