It’s a dilemma for many travelers out there; do I brave it in Economy for 12 hours, or lie back and relax in Business, which sets me back a small fortune? Well, an increasing number of airlines are providing a solution which meets the best of both worlds: Premium Economy. In this cabin, you can expect to find increased leg-room/width, greater seat recline and perks such as priority boarding, increased baggage allowance and enhanced meals. It sounds like an attractive offer, but is it worth the extra bucks?

The fare is often set at the halfway mark between a Business and Economy ticket, and the cabin is offered by many airlines, including Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific, British Airways and Air New Zealand. As it is still considered a ‘premium class’, targeting a niche market, the cabins tend to be on the smaller side. This means a more personalised and attentive service than Economy, as a result of a higher crew-to-passenger ratio.

The main difference between Business and Premium Economy is your sleeping surface. Whilst Business will offer a flat-bed, Premium Economy still retains the shape of a seat, even when reclined. Therefore, don’t expect a dramatically improved sleep in Premium, as compared with Economy. In fact, the comforts of Premium are best enjoyed on a daytime flight, where you can soak in the improved cabin service, sparkling wine on tap, and plane food more reflective of Business Class than Economy.

AA Prem Econ

American Airlines’ newly launched Premium Economy seat

As far as choosing your airline, seats and offerings vary significantly. The World Airline Awards chose Air New Zealand as their favourite Premium Economy, their ‘space-age inspired’ pod seats putting some Business Class seats to shame. Turkish Airlines boasts a whopping 46 inches of legroom (compared with 31” in Economy), whilst Singapore Airlines (pictured at top) trumps its competitors on inflight offerings, including complimentary champagne and luxury food available to pre-order before your flight through their Book the Cook service.

But of course, all of this comes with the burden of an increased price tag. You will personally have to weigh up how much you value the features that Premium Economy offers to you. Although the increase in personal space is definitely noticeably increased, your chances of getting a good night’s sleep remain almost as slim as Economy Class. If leg-room is your only gripe about Economy, then perhaps consider spending a bit extra to reserve an exit/front row seat instead, as this will be a lot cheaper than flying Premium.

Not all premium cabins are created equal. American carriers such as Delta and United offer a premium cabin identical to Economy, just with three extra inches of legroom. With the Economy cabin tighter than ever, you are effectively paying the premium for a ‘normal’ amount of space further forward. The food, amenities and service are the same.

Final Thoughts

However Premium Economy really comes into its own if you’re planning for a special event, and interested in having a more enjoyable flying experience, with detailed service and improved inflight offerings. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a good night’s sleep, look elsewhere. 

What are your experiences with Premium Economy? Can you justify the extra price?

Let us know down below!