Looking for more space without shelling out the big bucks for business or first class? Opting for a premium economy ticket is an easy way for travelers to access perks like extra legroom, food and beverages, and priority boarding at a more reasonable price point. With the current rise of pandemic fatigue and revenge travel, the option of low-stakes indulgence has become increasingly alluring to those who usually book the average economy ticket.
But while it has become a standard upgrade option when booking a flight in recent years, premium economy is a reasonably new premise: the first premium economy seats rolled out in 2008 to lure back customers after a dip in air travel demand.1 Today, premium economy has become a significant revenue driver for airlines, who expect to triple their premium seat inventory by 2025.1
International airlines and long-haul routes often offer some of the best benefits, with newer aircraft like the Airbus A350-1000, Airbus A380, Boeing 737 Max 8, and Boeing 787 Dreamliners boasting state of the art cabins that come with sleek entertainment systems, wider pitch, and more comfortable seats. If you’re planning on shelling out the extra cash for a premium economy upgrade, these are the airlines worth your money.
British Airways’ premium economy seats, called World Traveller Plus, offer a 38-inch seat pitch with greater recline, lumbar support, headrest, and footrest in a separate cabin toward the front of the plane. Travelers also get special meals, a full bar service, a personal entertainment system with noise-reducing headphones, a pillow and blanket, an amenity kit, a power supply for laptops and other electronic devices, and the ability to check two bags.
Emirates recently launched premium economy on its Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft. The new A380 premium economy seats will offer an impressive 40 inches pitch and 19.5 inches of seat width, with a generous 8 inches of recline. They will be designed to feature wood panels inspired by business class, as well as cream-colored leather finishings, calf and foot rests, a side cocktail table, and a 13.3-inch entertainment screen.
Premium Economy customers on Cathay Pacific get dedicated check-in counters and priority boarding at the gate, along with the ability to check two pieces of luggage. The seat features 38 inches of pitch, eight inches of recline, a headrest with four-way movement, and a three-position footrest. Full-length calf rests and leather-padded footrests can be found on the A350 fleet and selected B777-300ER aircraft. Additional storage space and a large meal table will give passengers plenty of room to work, with Wi-Fi services soon introduced.
Passengers flying on the French flag carrier should splurge for Premium Economy, which offers between 36 and 38 inches of seat pitch. The seats also include SkyPriority airport security checkpoint access, two free checked bags; early boarding; headrests and footrests; extra seat storage; a personal, adjustable reading lamp, and an electronic PC outlet to charge your laptop computer; and a noise-reducing headset. Passengers can also enjoy a wide 13.3-inch 4K high-definition screen with a Bluetooth connection, on which they can indulge in hours of on-demand entertainment.
Virgin Atlantic was one of the first airlines to offer premium economy. Its premium seats include 38 inches of pitch, a headrest, a leg rest, and lumbar support. Passengers receive a dedicated check-in and bag drop, priority boarding, a welcome glass of champagne, premium dining, and an amenity kit.
Lufthansa’s Premium Economy allows passengers to check two free bags, receive a welcome drink, and lounge in seats with 38 inches of pitch along with headrests and footrests, 12-inch entertainment system screens, and upgraded meals and an amenity kit.
The premium economy perks on Qantas begin at the airport, with a separate check-in counter and a dedicated airport security checkpoint lane. Once onboard, passengers get a seat with 38 inches of pitch, a multi-way adjustable headrest, a footrest, a special meal service, an amenity kit, a pillow and blanket, and tray table storage. Splurging on one of Qantas’ many long-haul flights from Australia and beyond is undoubtedly worth the reasonable price tag.