Economy vs Premium Economy

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Is it worth paying more for a few frills?

Premium Economy sits between Economy and Business Class, a comfy place for passengers who may prefer life in the pointy end of the plane, but do not have the cash for First Class. Read on for all you need to know about Premium Economy Class.

It’s been around for a while – EVA Air was the first airline to have this class way back in 1991 – but today several airlines, including Cathay Pacific, Air France, Qantas, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Air New Zealand, offer it.

Fares are typically 30-50 per cent more than an Economy Class ticket. There’s quite a jump to the next class up – Business Class. These fares can be 65 per cent more than Premium Economy.

It’s not all about the legroom, although this (around 38 inches compared to 32 in Economy) is a huge benefit, over Sardine Class. Depending on the airline, you’ll enjoy separate check-in desks and priority boarding, better in-flight entertainment with noise-cancelling headphones, a glass of bubbly and better meals, drinks and snacks.

Premium Economy seats – a couple of airlines are offering souped-up seats. Japan Airlines has a Sky Shell Seat that offers 20 per cent more room than ordinary Economy seats and a seat pitch of 38 inches. Air New Zealand’s Spaceseats can’t be reclined, which means you have nothing to fear from the passenger in front. The seats in the inner space of the cabin have been designed for couples, while those on the outer space of the cabin cater for those on business trips or who are travelling alone.

Air New Zealand 'Kupe' Premium Economy #LHR #ANZ #AirNewZealand #PremiumEconomy #ZodiacAerospace

A photo posted by Mark Hoggarth (@mark_hoggarth) on

Depending on the airline you’ll be able to check-in more luggage too. Check-in allowances on Air New Zealand are two pieces, weighing 23kg each for example.

On some airlines, British Airways for example, when “restricted” (they’re the ones that are expensive to change) tickets in one class of travel sell out, it can be cheaper to buy a restricted ticket in the next class (Economy to Premium Economy for example) than to buy a flexible fare in Economy Class.

Mix and match. Think about upgrading for one of your flights – fly out in Economy and return in Premium Economy – whichever one you think you’ll need most!

Time it right. Business travellers to key cities, such as New York, will usually fly there on a Sunday so flights on a Saturday may be cheaper. If your destination is a magnet for holiday makers, flights on a Saturday will likely be more expensive.

Include a Saturday night in your stay and consult the calendar. Public holidays or bank holiday weekends in your destination will make for cheaper flights back to the UK as the locals will be busy celebrating. Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve are two other days when you may score on a cheaper flight.

(Featured image: Christopher Doyle)

Economy vs Premium Economy was last modified: July 1st, 2015 by Oonagh Shiel
Author: Oonagh Shiel (3400 posts)

Content Manager at Cheapflights whose travel life can be best summed up as BC (before children) and PC (post children). We only travel during the school holidays so short-haul trips and staycations are our specialities!