Features

Which airlines have the best premium economy?

28 Sep 2022 by BusinessTraveller
United Airlines' new premium economy cabin, Premium Plus

It has taken many years, but finally premium economy is offered by the majority of long haul international airlines.

We have been following premium economy since it was first introduced. You can read many of our previous articles on this website. Have a look at the related articles at the bottom of this one for more on the history of premium economy, and the reasons there are so many different varieties.

We have also reviewed many of these seats – head to the Tried and Tested section of the website.

Here is our round-up of the options, updated, so you can decide which is best for you. We will keep updating this, and also include more aircraft types where the seating differs significantly between aircraft types.

Air Canada Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner Premium Economy Class

AIR CANADA

Premium economy passengers are fast-tracked through the airport and given a hot towel and welcome soft drink, followed by wine, beer, spirits and “premium” hot meals served on china with proper cutlery and glassware. As with most airlines here, you can check in two cases (23 kg each).

The IFE screen is 28 cm/ 11 inches (B787-8 and 26.4 cm/ 10.4 inches (B777-300); there’s a USB port for charging, in-seat power at every seat, adjustable headrest, a comfortable pillow and blanket, as well as a CleanCare+ kit, containing a mask, hand sanitizer, and antiseptic wipes, in addition to an amenity kit when flying internationally.

All premium economy seats have a comfortable 96.5 cm (38 in) seat pitch with ample room to stretch out. On the B787-8, there are three rows in a 2-3-2 layout (economy is 3-3-3).

  • WIDTH 50.8cm/20in (B777-300); 49.53cm/19.5in (B787-8); 45.7cm/18in (A330-300);
  • LEGROOM 38in/96.5cm
  • RECLINE 7in/18cm

Flight review: Air Canada B787-8 premium economy

Flight review: Air Canada B777-300ER premium economy

Air France premium economy

AIR FRANCE

Air France passengers can use Sky Priority channels in the airport, gain access to a lounge for a fee (economy passengers can’t), board at will by skipping the economy queue, and get their luggage back quicker on arrival.

Air France says that its premium economy seat provides 40 per cent more space than in economy, and the fixed-shell design means that you won’t encroach on the space of the person behind when you recline. Premium economy passengers are provided with travel kits and there are cleverly designed grooves in the tray table to rest your iPad on (you also get 12-inch built-in screens). The seat is available on all its long haul, widebody aircraft – A330. A350, B777 and B787.

  • WIDTH 19in/48cm
  • LEGROOM 38in/96.5cm
  • RECLINE 130 degrees

Flight review: Air France B777-200ER Premium Voyageur (premium economy)

Air New Zealand premium economy on the B787-9

AIR NEW ZEALAND

In somewhat of a backward step, the Kiwi carrier’s innovative Spaceseat, installed on the B777-300, was replaced with a more conventional premium economy seat in 2017. This seat has now been standardised across the airline’s fleet of B787-9 and B777-200 and -300 planes, and which has either a 2-3-2 (B787) or 2-4-2 (B777) configuration.

Despite the change, passengers still get premium check-in, priority baggage and boarding, and onboard amenity kits, meals and drinks, including wine from New Zealand.

  • WIDTH 19.3in/49cm
  • LEGROOM 41in/104cm
  • RECLINE 9in/23cm

Flight review: Air New Zealand B777-200ER premium economy

Flight review: Air New Zealand B777-200ER (refurbished) Premium Economy

American Airlines Premium Economy Back-row

AMERICAN AIRLINES

AA launched its first premium economy product in 2017 on its B787-9s and B777-200s. It is now on its B777 and B787 fleet. To read a review, see

Flight review: American Airlines B777-300ER Premium Economy

Included in the price is priority check-in, security, boarding and luggage, as well as “chef-inspired” meals and alcohol. Passengers can take advantage of spacious black leather seats, noise-reducing headphones, USB ports and amenity kits.

The measurements differ between aircraft but are as follows:

  • WIDTH19in/48cm (B777-300 and B787-9); 18.5in/47cm (B777-200 and B787-8)
  • LEGROOM 38in/96.5cm
  • RECLINE 5-6in/12-15cm
ANA Premium Economy

ANA

Premium Economy passengers on ANA-operated international flights can access “ANA lounges” at Haneda Airport, Narita Airport, Kansai Airports and Honolulu Airport. At airports other than the above. ANA has two different types of premium economy seating, with the first being on the B787-9, B787-8 and B777-300ER aircraft, and the second being on the A380, B787-10 and B777-300ER (new 212 seat configuration)

Premium economy on the B777-300ER is in its own 2-4-2 cabin. Legroom is 38 inches – four inches more than regular economy – while the seat is 10 per cent wider, at 19.3 inches. On the new configuration of the B77-300ER (called 212) the seatback touchscreen is 15.6 inches.

The seat is also installed on ANA’s B787s. Each seat has a legrest, footrest, 10.6-inch touchscreen, power outlet, USB port and connection for Apple devices, plus a reading light at shoulder height. Premium economy passengers are served a business class selection of drinks including Champagne, though meals are the same as in economy.

  • WIDTH 18.4-19.3in/47-49cm
  • LEGROOM 38in/96.5cm
  • RECLINE 21-24.5 degrees

Flight review: ANA B777-300ER Premium Economy

Austrian Airlines Premium Economy

AUSTRIAN AIRLINES

Austrian’s B777-200 aircraft hold a total of 24 premium economy seats configured 2-4-2, while B767-300ERs contain 30 seats (expanded from 18) configured 2-2-2. Along with 38 inches of legroom, passengers can enjoy a footrest, 12-inch TV screen and individual power outlets and USB ports. Premium Economy class also allows travellers to check in two bags of 23 kg per person and provides a choice of three in-flight main courses. An amenity kit including ear plugs, socks and other necessities is also provided.

  • WIDTH 9in/48cm
  • LEGROOM 38in/96.5cm
  • RECLINE 40 degrees
British Airways World Traveller Plus (premium economy)

BRITISH AIRWAYS

BA’s World Traveller Plus cabin comes in two forms, with a more modern product found on the B787, A380 and some B777s and an older one on the rest of the long-haul fleet. The pitch is seven inches greater than in economy, while the width is an inch more.

Upholstered in navy padded fabric, the newer seat has a footrest, a headrest with wings and a 10.5-inch touchscreen that can be controlled by a personal handset. Noise-cancelling headphones and an amenity kit with socks, an eye mask, ear plugs and toothbrush/paste are provided.

  • WIDTH 18.5in/47cm
  • LEGROOM 38in/ 96.5cm
  • RECLINE 7-8in/18-20cm

Flight review: British Airways A380 World Traveller Plus (premium economy)

Flight review: British Airways B787 World Traveller Plus

Flight review: British Airways B777-200ER World Traveller Plus

Flight review: British Airways B777-300ER World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy)

Brussels-Airlines Premium Economy

BRUSSELS AIRLINES

The airline’s A330s have a separate premium economy cabin (floor-to-ceiling partition walls and aisle curtains) with 21 seats in a 2-3-2 configuration. Passengers also get a 13.3 inch screen, larger table with AC and USB ports, and an “upgraded culinary experience” including a snack of ice cream.

  • WIDTH 18.5in/47cm
  • LEGROOM 38in/ 96.5cm
  • RECLINE 40 degrees
Cathay Pacific Premium Economy 1_916

CATHAY PACIFIC

Premium Economy seats are equipped with a full-length leg-rest, leather-padded footrests, a retractable armrest that can be adjusted and a headrest. They recline by nine inches and have an expanded seat pitch of 40 inches. Other features include a dimmable personal reading light, slide-out cocktail table, larger meal table, in-seat power outlet, and an amenity storage on each seat. The 28 seats are configured in a 2-4-2 cabin layout. Champagne is included, and meals are “light and healthy with an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables”. Larger tray tables make working on a laptop easier, while 10.6-inch screens (12.1-inch on the A350) come with noise-cancelling headphones. Amenity kits are also handed out.

  • WIDTH 18.5-19.3in/47-49cm
  • LEGROOM 38-40in/96.5-101.5cm
  • RECLINE 8-9in/20-23cm

Flight review: Cathay Pacific A350-900 premium economy

Flight review: Cathay Pacific B777-300ER premium economy

Flight review: Cathay Pacific A330-300 Premium Economy

China-Airlines-Premium economy

CHINA AIRLINES

The Taiwanese carrier offers eight rows of premium economy in a 2-4-2 layout on its B777-300ER aircraft. The fixed-back shell seat features a legrest, a 12.1-inch touchscreen, a water bottle holder, a drinks holder and a USB port. Designer Ray Chen has incorporated Chinese aesthetic touches throughout the aircraft, with the premium economy cabin featuring walls lined with a wood texturing effect.

  • WIDTH 19in/48cm
  • LEGROOM 39in/99cm
  • RECLINE 118 degrees

Flight review: China Airlines B777-300ER premium economy

Delta premium economy seat

DELTA AIR LINES

Delta has Premium Select on  its A350, A330 and B767 aircraft. To read a review, see

Flight review: Delta B767-400ER premium economy

The seat is wider than the economy seat, with an adjustable footrest and leg rest, 13.3-inch seatback screens and the ability to watch the Delta Studio content on personal devices, and individual power ports. There is also an upgraded amenity kit, noise-cancelling headsets, a blanket made from recycled materials and memory-foam pillow to help them arrive rested and refreshed. Free Starbucks coffee is available, along with snacks and complimentary beverages including beer, wine, cocktails and spirits. Premium Select travellers qualify for Sky Priority security, boarding and bag delivery.

  • WIDTH19in/48cm (18.5/47cm on A350)
  • LEGROOM38in/96.5cm
  • RECLINE7in/18cm

EL AL

Israeli carrier El Al took delivery of the first of 16 B787 Dreamliner aircraft in 2017, featuring a new premium economy seat configured 2-3-2 and offering 38 inches of seat pitch, a footrest and multi-position adjustable headrest.

The seat also features a larger IFE screen compared to economy, as well AC power and a USB port.

The airline’s premium economy cabin has subsequently been installed onto selected B777-200ERs, at the expense of the aircraft’s first class seating.

The new Emirates premium economy seat

EMIRATES

The new premium economy cabin on the A380 is located at the front of the main deck of the superjumbo, with a total of 56 seats in a 2-4-2 layout. Three toilets have been dedicated to the new cabin. Features include up to 40 inches of seat pitch, 19.5 inches of seat width, eight inches of recline, and a 13.3-inch IFE screen.

There is in-seat charging, a wide fold out dining table, and a side cocktail table. The seat is upholstered in “cream-coloured anti-stain leather with stitching details and a wood panel finishing similar to business class”, and also features six-way adjustable headrests, calf rests and footrests.

Premium economy is currently available on selected Emirates flights to and from Heathrow, Paris CDG and Sydney, and will be progressively rolled out to destinations including New York JFK, Auckland, Melbourne, San Francisco, Singapore and Christchurch by March 2023.

Emirates is in the midst of what it is calling the “largest known fleet retrofit” project, with a total of 120 aircraft being retrofitted, starting with the carrier’s A380 superjumbos before moving onto its B777 aircraft. All of the retrofitted aircraft will feature premium economy, with the project set to be completed in 2025.

The carrier’s premium economy seat is also set to be installed on “some” of the carrier’s B777X aircraft, although the aircraft will now not join Emirates’ fleet until 2025 at the earliest.

  • WIDTH 19.5in/49.5cm
  • LEGROOM up to 40in/102cm
  • RECLINE 8in/20cm
EVA-air-Premium-Economy-(3)

EVA AIR

The Taiwanese airline was one of the first carriers to offer premium economy (branded Elite Class originally). Its product offers USB ports, plug sockets, mood lighting and 11-inch LCD touchscreens. Toiletries by Canadian brand Escents are also provided, along with pillow and blanket sets. Wine, beer and non-alcoholic drinks are on offer, with meals served on chinaware.

  • WIDTH 19.5in/49.5cm
  • LEGROOM 38in/96.5cm
  • RECLINE 8in/20cm
Finnair_A350_Premium_Economy_Class_Seat_Sleep_Sideview_v2

FINNAIR

The new premium economy seating is by Haeco, and Finnair is the launch customer of its ‘Vector Premium’ seat, customised by Finnair and again, designed in partnership with Tangerine.

Premium Economy is in a cabin of 26 seats immediately behind the rear business class cabin. The seat has a 38-inch legroom, stowage area for laptops and small personal items, memory foam cushions, an eight-inch recline, leg rest and six-way headrest. There is a single leaf meal tray for work and dining, individual reading lights, PC power and USB-A ports. The IFE is through a 13-inch touchscreen.

Premium Economy customers will get two meal services as well as a selection of drinks throughout the flight. A three-course meal will be served on new chinaware designed for Finnair by Finnish designer Harri Koskinen and Iittala, with a light meal service just before landing.

The textiles are Finnish design house Marimekko with a neck pillow and blanket designed specifically for the new premium economy seat.

  • WIDTH – 18in
  • LEGROOM – 38in
  • RECLINE – 8in

Finnair launches new business and premium economy seating

iberia premium economy

IBERIA

Iberia’s premium economy offers a seat width of 19 inches (11.6 per cent more than in economy), a pitch of 37 inches (20 per cent greater than economy), 40 per cent more recline compared to economy, and a larger IFE screen (12 inches compared to nine in economy). Premium economy passengers also benefit from priority check-in and boarding, a larger luggage allowance, an upgraded meal service, an amenity kit and noise-cancelling headphones. It is being fitted to the A330-300 and A350-900 fleets.

  • WIDTH 18-19in/49cm
  • LEGROOM 37in/95cm
  • RECLINE: 7.1in/18cm

Interview: Iberia’s CCO on new premium economy seat

ITA AIRWAYS

ITA Airways uses the old Alitalia fleet for much of its long haul fleet, and the seating is the same as with Alitalia. This means that the premium economy is what was launched in 2010, and originally branded as Classica Plus and then Premium Economy, which is what ITA calls it as well.

Benefits on the A330s (the only aircraft which has premium economy) include a separate cabin section with between 17 seats which recline to 120 degrees (9 inches) and offer up to 40 per cent more legroom (compared to economy); baggage allowance of up to two items weighing 23 kg, dedicated check-in desks and priority boarding; a night kit with blanket and pillow, and a 10.6 inch TV screen on the carrier’s A330s.

  • WIDTH 20.1in/50cm
  • LEGROOM 38in/96.5cm
  • RECLINE 9 inches

JAPAN AIRLINES

JAL’s Sky Premium fixed-shell seat has 42 inches of pitch, a legrest, a headrest with wings, and a privacy divider at head height. The 12.1-inch touchscreen can be controlled via a handheld remote. In-seat power is provided. A significant perk is having lounge access at Tokyo Haneda and Narita, and London Heathrow.

  • WIDTH 19in/48cm
  • LEGROOM 42in/106.5cm
  • RECLINE Undisclosed

Flight review: Japan Airlines B777-300ER premium economy

KLM Premium Comfort

KLM

The Dutch flag carrier unveiled its long-awaited premium economy seating (branded Premium Comfort) in May 2022, and the first flight featuring the new cabin was between Amsterdam Schiphol and New York JFK in September 2022.

The carrier plans to fit the seat to its B787-10, B787-9, B777-200 and B777-300ER aircraft, with between 21 and 28 seats in the cabin depending on the aircraft type.

The new seat offers up to 17cm more legroom than standard economy and up to 20cm recline, as well as movable leg and footrests, in-seat power and a 13-inch IFE screen.

  • WIDTH – 18.5in/ 47cm
  • LEGROOM 39in/99cm
  • RECLINE 8 in/20cm
Lufthansa premium economy

LUFTHANSA

Lufthansa’s seat is not in a separate cabin but, depending on aircraft, is up to an inch wider than in economy, with about four inches more room at the side thanks to a wide armrest and a centre console. Seats have adjustable footrests, power sockets, a USB port, an 11- to 12-inch screen, and a small stowage area for glasses or a phone. There is no priority boarding or check-in but select lounges can be used for a fee. A “fruity” welcome drink is offered on board.

  • WIDTH 18-19in/45.5-48cm
  • LEGROOM 38in/96.5cm
  • RECLINE 40 degrees

Flight review: Lufthansa B747-8 premium economy

It is in the process of upgrading the seat with German manufacturer Zim confirmed as the new supplier for its B747-8 jumbo aircraft. The Zim Privacy seat (officially known as the Zim PC-02) will be fitted to the carrier’s 19 B747-8s, as well as new A350 and B787-9s as they are delivered. As previously reported, Lufthansa had originally planned to launch the new seat on its delayed B777-9 aircraft. The fixed shell seat features an integrated privacy shield, as well as adjustable armrests, a cocktail table, single piece meal table, personal reading light and “extra-large IFE screen”. It is an upgrade on the Zim Magic seat, with which Lufthansa launched its premium economy offering back in 2014.

Norse B787-9 Premium-cabin_3

NORSE

The 56 Premium seats are in eight rows of 2-3-2 at the front of the aircraft. The configuration is 2-3-2 (AC -DEF GJ). These are comfortable armchair-type seats with a pitch of 43 inches and 12 inches of recline (the B787s have 46 inches in Premium), and has a utilitarian grey leather covering with antimacassars with the Norse logo on them.

  • WIDTH Undisclosed
  • LEGROOM 43in/109 cm
  • RECLINE 12in

To read a full review:

Flight review: Norse Atlantic Airways B787-9 Premium

Qantas A380 Premium Economy

QANTAS

Qantas has a new premium economy seat on its B787s. Smartly upholstered in charcoal grey with touches of “burnt caramel”, the seat reclines into a Z shape with a hammock to support your feet, while a thick pillow slots on to the fixed-wing headrest to cushion you as you sleep. Seatbacks have 13.5-inch screens, plus slots for your own tablet. There are also USB sockets and pods for storing water bottles.

  • WIDTH 19.5in/49.5cm
  • LEGROOM 38-42in/96.5-106.5cm
  • RECLINE 9in/23cm

SAS

SAS is quite shy about its premium economy seat, which ii calls SAS Plus. On flights within Scandinavia, Finland and Europe the seat comfort the seat is identical to the one in economy (called SAS Go), but to and from Asia, Canada and the US you get a wider seat (by one inch) and extra legroom. The seat configuration in the cabin is 2-3-2 as opposed to 2-4-2 (on the A330), and 2-4-2 as opposed to 3-3-3 on the A350.

  • WIDTH 18.3in (18.8 inches on the A350)
  • LEGROOM 38in
  • RECLINE undisclosed
Singapore Airlines premium economy

SINGAPORE AIRLINES

Configured 2-4-2, SIA’s new premium economy seat has slots at the base of the central armrest for water bottles, cup holders above, calf and footrests that fold out, two USB sockets per person, and 13.3-inch HD monitors. Champagne is complimentary, and fast-track check-in, boarding and baggage handling are rolled in as well. Travellers can stow one piece of checked luggage to 35kg.

  • WIDTH 18.5-19.5in/47-49.5cm
  • LEGROOM 38in/96.5cm
  • RECLINE 8in/20cm

Flight review: Singapore Airlines A380 Premium Economy

Flight review: Singapore Airlines A380 premium economy

Flight review: Singapore Airlines A350-900 premium economy

Flight review: Singapore Airlines A380 Premium Economy Class

Swiss premium economy

SWISS

Lufthansa Group carrier Swiss has fitted its fleet of 12 B777-300ERs with the Zim Privacy seats. It says the remaining long-haul fleet consisting of Airbus A330-300s and A340-300s will be equipped with Premium Economy Class at a later date.

The Zim Privacy seat (officially known as the Zim PC-02) is a fixed shell seat with an integrated privacy shield, as well as adjustable armrests, a cocktail table, single piece meal table, personal reading light and “extra-large IFE screen”. It is an upgrade on the Zim Magic seat, with which Lufthansa launched its premium economy offering back in 2014.

  • WIDTH 18-19in/45.5-48cm
  • LEGROOM 38in/96.5cm
  • RECLINE 40 degrees
United Premium Plus seats on the carrier's B787-10

UNITED AIRLINES

United’s Premium Plus offers passengers noise-reducing headphones, a Saks Fifth Avenue blanket and pillow, and an amenity kit. Premium Plus is on B777-200 aircraft which serve long haul destinations, B777-300s and B787-8, B787-9 and B787-10 aircraft, as well as the B767-400ER fleet and the B767-300ER fleet, this last of which has two configurations, one of which has  24 seats of Premium Plus. On the  B777-300ER and B777-200ER aircraft  it is in a 2-4-2 configuration, with a 2-3-2 configuration on the B787-10 and a 2-2-2 on the B767-300ER.

  • WIDTH 19in/48cm
  • LEGROOM 38in/96.5cm
  • RECLINE 6in/17cm

VIETNAM AIRLINES

Vietnam Airlines offers Premium Economy on both the B787-9 and A350 aircraft, each varying in their seat dimensions (see below). Both aircraft include 30 cm entertainment screens and spacious luggage compartments. Premium Economy passengers can take advantage of priority check-in and amenities like pillows, blankets and toiletries on the plane. Complimentary drinks and spirits are also offered in-flight.

  • WIDTH 18in/46cm (A350: 19in/48cm)
  • LEGROOM 42in/107cm (A350: 38in/96.5cm)
  • RECLINE 7in/18cm (A350: 8in/20cm)

Flight review: Vietnam Airlines B787-9 premium economy

Virgin Atlantic A350 premium economy

VIRGIN ATLANTIC

One of the originators of premium economy, Virgin’s product is now called Premium. The seat has 10.5-inch touchscreens and broad central armrests with a flat section for drinks. Passengers either have footrests or a supportive ottoman cushion behind the bulkhead. When boarding, a glass of prosecco and a newspaper are offered and, later, a choice of post-prandial liqueurs. Amenity kits are provided on night flights.

On its new A330 neo aircraft, there will be 46 premium economy seats in burgundy with a 38” pitch and a 13.3” touchscreen with Bluetooth audio. The airline is also offering its Premium customers an in-seat wireless charging pad (though these are shared with one in each set of seats in the 2-3-2 configuration).

  • WIDTH 21in/53cm
  • LEGROOM 38in/96.5cm
  • RECLINE 8in/20cm

Flight review: Virgin Atlantic B787-9 premium economy

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