Premium Economy – I don t get it

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This topic contains 48 replies, has 31 voices, and was last updated by  CathayLoyalist2 8 Feb 2016
at 14:22

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  • Anonymous


    Background –

    I had to go to South America on short notice after Xmas. My return flight was in economy as business class was 3.500EUR (!) more and no miles upgrade possible.

    There was an auction feature possible and I decided to try to bid up to Premium Economy just to try this new LH product. I put in a low bid (250 EUR) which was rejected.

    So I mentally prepared myself for 11 hrs of catlle class when lo and behold I got a free upgrade to Premium Eco when getting ready to board.

    Here are some of the things I noticed on this service which was 2-3-2 configuration:

    1. They serve you a welcome drink. It was sans alcohol – some mixture of mango and orange juice
    2. You get more legroom but difficult for me to judge as I sat in an exit row as I always do when I fly eco longhaul
    3. Screen for entertainment system seemed a bit bigger than in normal
    4. Food was same as in eco which is to say pretty terrible. No additional wine options but I asked anyway and they made an exception probably due to my Senator status more than anything else
    5. They give you a small bag of travel essentials. I have my own stuff anyway
    6. Earphones seemed same as in eco but I have my own anyway

    Bottom-line: you only really get the few additional inches of legroom. Not really sure of the price differential, but for me it is not worth it since I get seated in exit row in eco anyway and I only really can sleep well on a flat-bed seat.

    Would like to know the thoughts of others who have flown this service.

    Happy New Years to all. Cheers,


    BA Premium Economy, which I’ve been on a few times, to me only has the advantage of those few inches of legroom – but then that’s something for me as I’m tall. If anyone thinks that PE is halfway between Economy and Business Class then they’re in for a shock!


    I am not a huge fan of PE either, but for the record it’s quite dependent on airline. For Virgin and BA, you get a slightly wider seat, a footrest, bigger screen, smaller cabin and meals from Business Class (at least part of it)… I guess it depends on how much you would value this vs. price differential. PE on NZ however looks almost like Business Class on some other airlines… on AA it’s just a seat near the front of the cabin with extra legroom and nothing else…


    I have flown LH, BA and CX PEY. The LH experience (SIN-FRA-SIN) I have to say was good helped in part with a jovial crew, yes even on LH. The seat I found was comfortable and the extra leg room welcome as I am average height 5’10”. It is however on the A380 quite a large cabin. The food was fine. On CX ( various routes) the seat is good however the cabin layout is poor by that I mean just 1 toilet for PEY and used by ‘Y; passengers as well plus the front row allows passengers to walk across to get to the toilet and the inevitable tripping over of legs very frustrating at night. I would stay with 40H in Economy which has no seat in front of it making unobstructed leg room. BA’s PEY (SIN-SYD-SIN) the seat was not comfortable and I do not believe the leg room is as good as LH or CX. Is it worth the money? Only if you know the aircraft your flying on well enough and can select a good seat i.e. CX front row A or C in PEY or LH again front row


    I’ve written two detailed piece about Y+ for the magazine. And I can confirm it is the most complex of products to analyse.

    Based on normal fares, in general it does not represent good value. Where you get the savings or the good deals is where you can avail yourself of one of the promotional offers.

    Here I am referring to the proper Y+ and not the very basic products offered by the likes of AA/KL/UA.

    And then we have the situation where some of the world’s major airlines do not offer Y+ at all. Here I’m referring to the Gulfies.

    But on the other hand, in some markets carriers like QR will be selling J for less than the normal Y+ fares charged by the European majors.


    Virgin PE is a world apart from their own economy and a world apart from BA World Traveller Plus…!


    As I see it PY is for those in the superficial class, who would think nothing of buying Habitat furniture when IKEA offers a perfectively viable and cheaper alternative.


    AA just announced their new “International” Premium Economy. It looks like they have done a bit of research on the offerings by other carriers in order to create this new product! It will be featured on their international widebody fleet and will be available in late 2016 — offering a new class of service directly behind Business Class,

    Personally fly First Class by choice but found their announcement interesting, especially for a US based carrier.


    That explains why AA has begun downgrading MCE as we reported last October.

    United too will be working on a proper Y+ for its new fleet of B777-300ERs.


    I am a big fan of premium economy. I think it fits a clear demand for people who want more space, better service, dedicated check in (on VS anyway), priority boarding and just a generally more premium experience. The key is in the name, it is a premium economy product, not a business class minus. The absence of premium economy is exactly why I have always flown BA to Abu Dhabi and Dubai rather than EK or EY, as someone who is 6″4′ the extra space is invaluable, and it is far more pleasant to sit with just 30 other people rather than 120+


    To be honest Y+ works very well for me (which is why I struggle for the ME3) :

    Increased space
    Increased tier points / Avios
    1 op upgrade gets you to the ‘dizzy heights’ of business
    It neatly separates out the super budget travellers from business travellers / more serious / experienced travellers

    All for relatively little cost.


    I guess whether it’s worth it or not is down to what more you get and for how much.

    Would I pay 50% more of the economy fare for premium economy? No way.

    Would I pay say a £150 premium for a 12 hour longhaul sector? Probably.

    There are so many variations of Premium Economy too. Many of the U.S airlines have a premium economy section where the seat and service is exactly the same except further forward and a couple more inches of legroom.

    Then there are the ‘economy plus’ variations. Different seat, more legroom, maybe a few other little perks such as an upgraded meal or wine, bigger screens, better headphones.

    And some airlines have I guess you could describe ‘Business Minus’ such as Air NZ, Turkish, QF where it is a substantial step up from Economy.

    A HUGE factor in whether Premium Economy or not is worth it for me is how busy the flight is in Economy. It’s not uncommon that I have passengers in World Traveller Plus ask me if they can ‘downgrade’ themself to an empty row in economy. The biggest negative of most PE seats – the armrests are usually fixed so even if you have empty seats next to you they cannot be raised whereas in Y you could nab yourself a quasi bed. I know you can’t be expected to know when booking months out what the odds are of Y being quiet but if I was considering an opt up to Prem Economy at say check in stage i’d find out how busy Y is first 😉


    I am predominantly with TheRealBabuschka – PY is just a money making exercise with negli geable improvement over ordinary Y in most cases. Long haul overnight flights are worth splurging in business but on day flights I’ll save my cash in basic economy. Rferguson is however right to point out that ANZ & QF have some justification for calling their “PYclass” premium. Certainly even with them it is hardly business minus and rferguson is again right in preferring an empty row in ordinary Y to the dubious pleasures of a single Y+ seat


    Y+ may well be a money-making excercise but it does provide a useful product if you have to downgrade or upgrade.

    Imagine a business class traveller booked on a long flight on a QR B787 who then finds he’s going to be downgraded to economy because the flight is overbooked ? A South African traveller experienced this scenario recently.

    Conversely as noted above it’s easier for an airline to upgrade from Y+ into J because the passenger would normally have bought a more highly priced ticket (than regular economy).

    ANZ’s Y+ is praised. But bear in mind that those wide seats and six-abreast (2-2-2) layout are found only on the carrier’s B777-300ERs.

    On ANZ’s B777-200ERs and B787s it adopted a conventional layout so it’s less spacious.

    So on the B787 (which has a narrower cabin than the B777) you find that Y+ is disposed seven-abreast 2-3-2.

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