Upgrade to Premium Economy: is it Worth the Extra Cost? 21 Airlines Compared

Lufthansa Premium Economy Class Boeing 747 8i

Business and Economy Class – those are the two products that almost every major airline offers. But times are changing and so are the established models for aircraft cabins. Business class seats are getting so luxurious that many airlines phased out their First-Class product. And more and more carriers are introducing a so-called Premium-Economy Class, trying to fill the gap between coach and Business class. For a surcharge of a couple of hundred euros, airlines offer better and bigger seats, more legroom and in some cases other extras like better food or even lounge access.

Differences between Economy and Premium Economy

So what exactly is it, that sets Premium Economy apart from the cattle class, that many of us usually fly? Is there an airline that has an exceptionally good product and/or price? Which is the best Premium Economy out there? Questions upon questions. But we will try to give you the answers you need. After giving you a short overview of the main points that should be compared you can check out the hard facts on the Premium Economy class of 21 airlines. Off we go.

Seats

Without questions, this will be the most crucial topic in this discussion. Even people that don’t define themselves as giants can hardly be happy when being trapped in the restricted space that most airlines offer in Economy Class nowadays. This might be bearable for short-haul flights within Europe. But spending a 10 hours flight with your legs tucked to your chest? No, thanks.

And here’s where Premium Economy comes into play. Compared to Economy the seats offer more legroom, can be reclined further and are often also wider than the seats in the far back of the cabin. Lufthansa’s Premium Economy, for example, offers 95 cm of room between your seat and the one in front of you. Compare that to 80 cm in coach, and you get an extra 15 cm. That might not sound like much at first, but it’s enough to make the difference between arriving at your destination relaxed or in need of a stretching bank.

Most airlines offer Recliner Seats together with a small footrest or even a leg rest that can be extended from under the seat. In addition to that, seats in Premium Economy often give you more storage space for our personal belongings and smaller features such as a small table between two armrests.

Meals and drinks

In some cases, you’ll find a more excellent selection of food and drinks on board if you pay for Premium Economy. Carriers will even serve you a pre-departure drink to give you that classy feeling that some of you might know from trips in Business Class. But differences between airlines are vast.

While SAS serves precisely the same food in their SAS Plus cabin than they do in normal Economy, Lufthansa at least switches the plastic crockery against real china. Singapore Airlines and Air France take it one step further and provide you with a choice of individual menus that can be pre-ordered before your flight!

Additional benefits

Many airlines also offer small extra goodies to their Premium Economy passengers, such as priority boarding, more generous baggage allowance, an amenity kit or even access to their lounge.

But just like catering, these additional benefits differ from one carrier to another. So take a good look at the overview we put together for you.

21 Premium Economy products compared

In the tables below we examined the significant differences between the Economy and the Premium Economy product of 21 airlines. The price difference we show you is a sample that we calculated to provide you with a rough idea on how much more you’ll have to pay to escape cattle class.

Please note: as everything in Aviation, also the airlines Premium Economy products can change from one day to another. If you find outdated information or have different experiences, please let us know at patrick@travel-dealz.eu. Thanks!

Lufthansa Premium Economy Class

It took Lufthansa quite some time to introduce their Premium Economy Class. But the result was definitely worth the wait. Solid hard product that’s available on long-haul flights from and to Frankfurt and Munich. Lufthansa offers extra benefits but unfortunately the catering is not the best.

Premium Economy Sitz erste Reihe//Premium Economy Seat
Premium Economy Seat © Lufthansa

Seat pitch94 – 97 cm
Seat recline130°
Recliner seatYes, but footrests are only offered in the first row
CateringSame dishes as in Economy Class, but served on china
Lounge accessAccess to the Business lounge for an extra fee (25€)
Amenity KitYes
Priority-ServicesNone
Baggage Allowance2 x 23 kg
Pricing+45% (400€ extra for a flight from Frankfurt to Miami)

Eurowings BEST

Eurowings now offers a Business Class product with lie-flat seats on their long-haul flights. Still, they call their Premium Economy Class product BEST. While the name might sound misleading, you get a decent product, featuring good seats and priority services.

Eurowings Premium Economy Seat
Eurowings Premium Economy Seat © Eurowings
Seat pitch115 cm
Seat recline130°
Recliner seatYes
CateringFree choice from the Wings Bistro, but the food is served in plastic packaging.
Complimentary alcoholic beverages.
Lounge accessNo
Amenity KitYes
Priority-ServicesPriority-Check-in, Security-Fastlane
Baggage Allowance2 x 23 kg
Pricing+41% (250€ extra for a flight from Cologne to Miami)

Condor Premium Class

Condor operates two different Premium Economy class products, one on short- and medium-haul flights, one on long-haul flights. Only the latter will provide you with the actual premium feeling. Even though Condor’s Premium Economy is an overall decent product, the seats themselves are not really at the top of the list.

Condor Premium Economy Seats
Condor Premium Economy Seats © Condor

Seat pitch91 cm
Seat recline130°
Recliner seatNo
CateringFree premium menu or special menu and complementary selection of drinks, but served in plastic packaging.
Lounge accessNo
Amenity KitYes
Priority-ServicesPriority Check-in, Priority Security Check, Priority Boarding, Priority Baggage
Baggage Allowance1 x 25 kg
Pricing+97% (740€ extra for a flight from Munich to Mauritius)

SAS Plus

SAS named their Premium Economy product that they operate on long-haul flights SAS Plus. WiFi on bard is complimentary and combined with the excellent seats, including a nice footrest, SAS put together a neat bundle. SAS also offers a SAS Plus Smart fare for a lower price. You’ll get the same onboard product but with less flexibility when it comes to changing your ticket.

SAS Premium Economy Seats
SAS Premium Economy Seats © SAS
Seat pitch97 cm
Seat recline105°
Recliner seatYes
CateringIn contrast to Economy, there are two dishes to choose from, but these are served on plastic tableware.
Lounge accessYes, but only SAS Lounge
Amenity KitYes
Priority-ServicesPriority Check-in, Priority Security Check, Priority Boarding, Priority Baggage
Baggage Allowance2 x 23 kg
Pricing+79% (366€ extra for a flight from Stockholm to Miami)

Air France Premium Economy Class

As an Air France Premium Economy customer, you will receive excellent service and exquisite catering. The fact that the seats do not recline in the conventional sense but instead slide forwards can be a bonus since you’re not disturbed by the person sitting in front of you. But then a lot of passengers complain about this type of seat since it obviously doesn’t offer the desired comfort.

Air France Premium Economy Seats
Air France Premium Economy Seats © Air France
Seat pitch97 cm
Seat recline123°
Recliner seatYes
CateringYou can pre-order an à la carte menu for a fee or you can order economy dishes served on porcelain tableware.
Lounge accessYes, for a fee of 25€
Amenity KitYes
Priority-ServicesPriority Check-in, Priority Security Check, Priority Boarding, Priority Baggage
Baggage Allowance2 x 23 kg
Pricing+56% (509€ extra for a flight from Paris to Miami)

LOT Premium Economy

Here’s a little insider tip: LOT’s Premium Economy. Great and comfortable recliner seats that do not only offer more legroom but are also 50 cm wide. That’s a guarantee for nice and relaxed long-haul flights. Available on flights from and to Warsaw.

LOT Premium Economy Class Seats
LOT Premium Economy Class Seats © LOT
Seat pitch97 cm
Seat recline115°
Recliner seatYes
CateringYou can pre-order an à la carte menu, served on porcelain tableware.
Lounge accessYes, for a fee
Amenity KitYes
Priority-ServicesPriority Check-in, Priority Security Check, Priority Boarding, Priority Baggage
Baggage Allowance2 x 23 kg
Pricing+135% (676€ extra for a flight from Warsaw to New York)

Alitalia Premium Economy

Alitalia’s Premium Economy Class is offered on flights from and to Rome. An extra cabin with a maximum of 24 seats provides a nice and cozy atmosphere, 10 MB of WiFi are complimentary for Premium Economy Class passengers.

Alitalia Seat
Alitalia Seat © Alitalia
Seat pitch94 cm
Seat recline120°
Recliner seatYes
CateringSame food as in Economy, but served on porcelain tableware
Lounge accessNo
Amenity KitNo
Priority-ServicesPriority Check-in, Priority Boarding
Baggage Allowance2 x 23 kg
Pricing+67% (380€ extra for a flight from Rome to New York)

United Premium Plus

For quite some time United seemed to be the only major airlines that didn’t jump on the Premium Economy bandwagon. While the airline is upgrading its fleet to the new Premium Plus product staring in March 2019, you’ll mostly still find the Economy Plus cabin, which wasn’t more than the name suggests. Since United hasn’t released all facts yet, we can only provide some estimations or feedback from passengers in our table below.

United Premium Eco
United Premium Economy Seats
Seat pitch96 cm
Seat reclineUnknow
Recliner seatYes
CateringPremium Food served on porcelain tableware
Lounge accessYes, for a fee
Amenity KitYes
Priority-ServicesPriority Check-in, Priority Security Check, Priority Boarding, Priority Baggage
Baggage Allowance2 x 23 kg
PricingApparently starts at 150$ surcharge for flights from the US

Singapore Airlines Premium Economy Class

Singapore Airlines offers one of the best, if not the best, Premium Economy Class products out there. Great seats and excellent catering make a massive difference to their Economy Class. Since Sinparoe Airlines is not excatly known for low cost flights, also tickets for their Premuim Eco cabin aren’t normally a steal.

Singapore Airlines Premium Economy Seat
Singapore Airlines Premium Economy Seat © Singapore Airlines
Seat pitch97 cm
Seat recline111°
Recliner seatYes
CateringBook The Cook, Selection of three Business Class meals
Lounge accessNo
Amenity KitYes
Priority-ServicesPriority Check-in, Priority Boarding, Priority Baggage
Baggage Allowance2 x 23 kg
Pricing+60% (500€ extra for a flight from Frankfurt to Singapore)

British Airways World Traveller Plus

British Airways named its Premium Economy Class product World Traveller Plus. The cabin with extra legroom and business class food is available on flights from and to BA hub London Heathrow. The seats are fine, although not super adjustable.

British Airways Premium Economy Seat
British Airways Premium Economy Seat
Seat pitch96 cm
Seat recline110°
Recliner seatYes
CateringChoice of two Business Class menus; à la carte menu for pre-ordering available on selected routes
Lounge accessNo
Amenity KitYes
Priority-ServicesNo
Baggage Allowance2 x 23 kg
Pricing+104% (628€ extra for a flight from London to Miami)

Cathay Pacific Premium Economy

The Hong Kong based airline Cathay Pacific consistently gets ranks under the top airlines in the annual Skytrax report. So it’s not a big surprise that also their Premium Economy class product gets good reviews from passengers that travelled with them.

Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Seats
Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Seats
Seat pitch96 – 102 cm
Seat recline130°
Recliner seatYes
CateringThree main courses from the business class menu to choose from; However, almost everything is served on plastic trays
Lounge accessNo
Amenity KitYes
Priority-ServicesPriority-Check-In
Baggage Allowance35 kg
Pricing+65% (440€ extra for a flight from Frankfurt to Hong Kong)

American Airlines Premium Economy

The new Premium Economy Class that American Airlines introduced should now be available on every long-haul aircraft since the completion of the upgrade was scheduled for the end of 2018.

AA Premium Economy Seats
AA Premium Economy Seats © American Airlines
Seat pitch97 cm
Seat recline105°
Recliner seatYes
CateringPremium dining menu like in business class, dishes served on porcelain tableware
Lounge accessNo
Amenity KitYes
Priority-ServicesPriority-Check-In, Priority Security, Priority-Boarding, Priority Baggage
Baggage Allowance2 x 23 kg
Pricing+50% (294€ extra for a flight from Madrid to Dallas)

Iberia Economy Premium

Spain is known for its good food and wine. Iberia didn’t want to stay behind expectations here. Many flight reports comment on the excellent catering that Iberia offers to passengers flying in their recently introduced Economy Premium.

Iberia Premium Economy Class Seats
Iberia Premium Economy Class Seats © Iberia
Seat pitch94 cm
Seat recline18 cm
Recliner seatYes
CateringTwo special dishes to choose from, served on porcelain tableware
Lounge accessNo
Amenity KitYes
Priority-ServicesPriority-Check-In, Priority Boarding
Baggage Allowance2 x 23 kg
Pricing+102% (451€ extra for a flight from Madrid to Miami)

Aeroflot Comfort Class

This competitor took us by surprise. Aeroflot is not the first airline you’d think of if t comes to ranking one of the better onboard products. But the Russian carrier offers a decent seat and business class meals.

Aeroflot Premium Economy Class Seats
Aeroflot Premium Economy Class Seats © Aeroflot
Seat pitch97 cm
Seat reclineNo real recline since seats just slide out
Recliner seatYes
CateringSelection from Business Class, served on porcelain tableware
Lounge accessNo
Amenity KitYes
Priority-ServicesPriority-Check-In, Priority Boarding, Priority Baggage
Baggage Allowance2 x 23 kg
Pricing+99% (354€ extra for a flight from Moscow to New York)

China Airlines Premium Economy

The seats that China airlines installed in their Premium Economy class are among the best in our comparison. The tremendous overall impression is only clouded by the catering that seems to be subpar, according to flight reports.

China Airlines Premium Economy Class Seat
China Airlines Premium Economy Class Seat © China Airlines
Seat pitch99 cm
Seat recline118°
Recliner seatYes
CateringSeparate menu, served on porcelain tableware
Lounge accessNo
Amenity KitYes
Priority-ServicesPriority Boarding
Baggage Allowance35 kg
Pricing+49% (360€ extra for a flight from Frankfurt to Taipei)

Qantas Premium Economy

According to Business Insider Australia, Qantas Premium Economy Class can compete with other airlines’ Business class product. While we think that this statement is a long shot, Qantas’ premium cabin can be ranked among the very best when compared to other carriers

Qantas Premium Economy Class Seats
Qantas Premium Economy Class Seats © Qantas
Seat pitch96 – 109 cm
Seat recline113°
Recliner seatYes
CateringSepcial menu, served on porcelain tableware
Lounge accessNo
Amenity KitYes
Priority-ServicesPriority Check-In
Baggage Allowance2 x 23 kg
Pricing+87% (1063€ extra for a flight from London to Perth)

Air Canada Premium Economy Class

Air Canada offers a solid Premium Economy class product with very reasonable pricing. Unfortunately, Air Canada still operates a rather old product on some of its aircraft, so there are differences in the experience you’ll get. Available on flights from and to multiple airports in Canada.

Air Canada Premium Economy Seats
Air Canada Premium Economy Seats © Air Canada
Seat pitch96,5 cm
Seat recline17,8 cm
Recliner seatYes
CateringSpecial menu
Lounge accessNo
Amenity KitYes
Priority-ServicesPriority Boarding
Baggage Allowance2 x 23 kg
Pricing+87% (688€ extra for a flight from Frankfurt to Vancouver)

Delta Premium Select

While Delta Comfort Plus only offers a little more legroom, Delta also operates a true Premium Economy called Delta Premium Select on some long-haul routes. As of now this product is only available on Airbus A350 flights and Boeing 777.

Delta Premium Economy Class Seats
Delta Premium Economy Class Seats © Delta Air Lines
Seat pitch97 cm
Seat recline18 cm
Recliner seatYes
CateringSpecial menu, served on porcelain tableware
Lounge accessNo
Amenity KitYes
Priority-ServicesPriority Check-in, Priority Security Check, Priority Boarding, Priority Baggage
Baggage Allowance2 x 23 kg
Pricing+64% (514€ extra for a flight from Atlanta to Seoul)

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Class

The seats are indeed not top notch, but Virgin’s Premium Economy offers a solid range of services in and around your flight. Due to Virgin’s partnership with Delta you can get connections all across the US.

Seat pitch96 cm
Seat recline106°
Recliner seatNo
CateringSpecial menu, served on porcelain tableware
Lounge accessNo
Amenity KitYes
Priority-ServicesPriority Check-in, Priority Boarding
Baggage Allowance2 X 23 kg
Pricing+79% (196€ extra for a flight from London to New York)

Austrian Airlines Premium Economy Class

Austrian Airlines launched its Premium Economy Class product in spring 2018. It’s very similar to what Lufthansa offers. For example, the identical type of seats is being used.

Austrian premium Economy Seat
Austrian premium Economy Seat © Austrian Airlines
Seat pitch94 – 97 cm
Seat recline130°
Recliner seatYes, but footrests are only offered in the first row
CateringEconomy Class meals, served on china
Lounge accessNo
Amenity KitYes
Priority-ServicesPriority Check-in, Priority Boardin
Baggage Allowance2 x 23 kg
Pricing+115% (511€ extra for a flight from Vienna to New York)

Finnair Economy Comfort

Finnair does not offer a “real” Premium-Economy with special seats, but at least a lot of extras (WiFi, noise-canceling headphones, welcome drink).

Finnair Economy Comfort Seat
Finnair Economy Comfort Seat
Seat pitch86 – 91113 cm
Seat recline113°
Recliner seatNo
CateringSame as in Economy
Lounge accessNo
Amenity KitYes
Priority-ServicesPriority Boarding
Baggage Allowance1 x 23 kg
PricingAprroximately 70€ to 90€ per flight

Bottom line

It really is hard to name a winner in our big Premium Economy Class comparison. Sometimes there are just fine details that differentiate one airline from the other. In other cases, they are worlds apart. Same goes for pricing. While one carrier charges rates that could also buy you cheap Business Class tickets, others ad a reasonable surcharge to their tickets.

In the end, it all comes down to what you think you need and are willing to pay for. For people that are looking for great food and service, Air France might be a good choice. On the other hand, they are often criticized for their seats. Singapore Airlines hardly shows any weakness but may make you dig deep into your pocket.

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Comments (2)

  1. Hallo Patrick,
    Danke fuer den Ueberblick.
    Fuer jemanden, der etwas vergleichen und fuer sich das Beste waehlen will, jedoch ziemlich muehsam.
    Kann man so was nicht als (EXCEL-) Tabelle darstellen und natuerlich nicht fuer einen Carrier sondern all in one?

    Reply

    • Hi Wigand, vielen Dank für dein Feedback und deinen Input! Ich schaue mir mal an, wie dein Vorschlag in dem Beitrag umgesetzt werden kann.

      Reply

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