Premium economy is certainly superior to economy. But what exactly are the changes, and how much will it cost? We’re about to break down all you need to know to answer the question “what is premium economy?” and determine if it’s good for you.
What’s the difference between Premium Economy and Economy?
The distinction between premium economy and economy class varies per airline and is frequently determined by the type of aircraft you are flying in. Premium Economy seats differ from normal Economy seats in the following ways:
- More space for the legs.
- Seats that are wider.
- Additional inches of seat recline.
- Electrical outlets
- Personal entertainment screens that are larger.
- A wider variety of foods.
- More privacy.
What is premium economy?
Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we? Premium economy is positioned on the aircraft between coach and business class. A seat in premium economy — directly between the main and business class cabins — is significantly more expensive than an economy ticket, often more than double the price.
However, Skyscanner reports that it is still 65% less expensive than business class. Skyscanner also reports that premium economy gives, on average, five to seven inches more legroom than economy, generally with “wider seats and greater space to recline.”
The seats and overall spaciousness are more, well, premium than an economy ticket. It’s also the comforts – premium economy offers different meal options than first class, as well as amenity packs and priority boarding.
Premium economy passengers frequently do not have to pay fees for checked bags, and they accumulate airline miles at a different pace than coach passengers.
American Airlines, as well as Air Canada and Singapore Airlines, provide premium economy service. Other airlines have their own version of premium economy, with similar levels of facilities but under a different brand.
Delta, for example, calls its premium economy class Premium Select (available only on select international flights). United calls it Premium Plus, Virgin Atlantic calls it Premium, and British Airways calls it World Traveller Plus.
What is economy plus?
So, if premium economy is the offspring of business class and economy, where does economy plus fit in? And, more significantly, is it for the better or for the worse? Let’s get right to the point: Economy plus is less luxury than premium economy, but it is less expensive.
Economy plus does not have the cabin separation like premium economy does. It is part of the main class cabin. With an economy plus ticket, you’re still in the coach cabin, but you have a better seat — there’s more legroom, and on some airlines, the seats are actually more plush, wider, or newer than the rest of coach.
Aside from that, you’ll be at the front of the main cabin, with priority boarding and possibly a better beverage.
Many airlines, similar to the realm of premium economy, offer an economy plus-type ticket but term it something different. Delta offers Comfort+ (the same amenity kits as in first class), JetBlue has Even More Space (seven additional inches of legroom), and American Airlines offers Main Cabin Extra (upgrades start at $20). On United, it’s known as economy plus, and you can even subscribe to it.
What are the prices and upgrade possibilities for premium economy and economy plus?
So, is the price difference between premium economy and economy plus worth it? It is determined on the length of your flight and your particular preferences. For a cross-country flight (JFK to LAX, for example), an economy plus ticket on Delta or JetBlue will usually cost an extra $100 to $300.
A premium economy ticket will cost at least $300 more than a standard coach ticket, if not more. (Paying twice the price of an economy ticket for premium economy, especially when flying internationally, is fairly common.)
However, if you have airline status (for example, you earn the lowest status tier on Delta, Silver Medallion, with 45,000 qualified miles and $6,000 in qualified flight spending), you may be eligible for free upgrades to an economy plus or premium economy seat.
Again, using the Delta Silver Medallion as an example, that status entitles you to complimentary upgrades to Comfort+ and first class on international flights, subject to space availability. Meanwhile, with American’s lowest status tier (Gold), you can qualify for an automatic (space permitting) or 500-mile upgrade voucher from the main cabin to the “next class of service.”
What role does economy play in this?
While an economy ticket does not entitle you to an upgrade from coach, understanding what the class has to offer should still influence your seating choice. The standard, main cabin fare is economy.
Meal service is entirely dependent on the airline and your specific flight. Unless you have a preferred credit card or status with your preferred airline, you are generally allowed one carry-on plus a personal item, but checked bags must be paid for. Standard seating provides 30 to 31 inches of legroom, though this varies by airline and aircraft.