What is premium economy? Premium economy is not on US carriers. Economy Plus, Main Cabin Extra, and Comfort+ are all economy with a little more room, 2-6in, to the row in front. Many foreign carriers are installing a new cabin on long haul flights for premium economy. Lufthansa describes it as: “A new travel experience between Business Class and Economy Class on long-haul flights: enjoy more comfortable seats, more service and more extras.” British Airways promotes: “a more comfortable, relaxing experience on longer routes and proof that a premium service doesn't have to break the bank, wider seats and more legroom, small, intimate cabins with expert, attentive service, delicious meals and full bar service, personal entertainment system with noise-reducing headphones, [and] larger free baggage allowance.”
Seat and Amenity Kit
Premium economy is a class between economy and business class, but is it a step up from coach or a step down from business class? The Qantas A380 upper deck has business, premium economy, and economy seats; 6, 7, and 8 seats per row respectively. A British Airways 777 has 8 wide premium economy and 9 wide coach. The cabin is like economy in most ways. There is no lounge access and the seats reline far, but are not close to flat. The food service is improved, but still a single course. The drink menu is the same as coach and the business class bathrooms at the front of the cabin are roped off. Luggage isn’t expedited, general security lines are used, and passengers are directed to the general check in line. This is definitely an improved economy experience and not a Spartan business class service.
Premium Economy View
I enjoyed my British Airways World Traveler Plus experience. I was originally booked on a 747-400 with the first version of premium economy. I misconnected in Heathrow because of a 4 hour fog delay. The delay was great, the Captain invited passengers into the cockpit to chat and kill time; it was a wonderful and rare experience. I was rebooked on a 777-300ER to Houston with the new cabin style. The service is the same, but the TV is better, there are more power outlets, and other little enhancements. I barely made the flight and was greeted with an offer of OJ or Champagne. I settled in to my seat in the last row with limited, though still ample, recline. The TV was large and clear and the seat next to me vacant. I settled in and enjoyed the meal service. Bar options are the same as coach, Red Label rather than Black Label. The seat was comfortable for the 10 hour trip and I landed in Houston refreshed. As an added surprise, my luggage made it with me to Houston (United left it in Houston for the night while I went to Denver).
Premium Economy Meal
Good trip and a great option when business class can’t be booked. It’s also a great upgrade option, often $300ish dollars more than coach one way. If you set your expectations that it’s an improved coach, you’ll be delighted with the value.