Alex On … Are you listening Qatar Airways ?

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  • AMcWhirter

    Interesting interview which Marisa Cannon conducted yesterday with Iberia’s CCO on the launch of its new premium cabin.

    Interview: Iberia’s CCO on new premium economy seat

    When ask why Iberia was introducing premium economy, CCO Marco Sansavini replied “Business class has improved so much in this time [the previous few years] and the gap beween econpmy and business class has widened so much that we realised there is a group of people in economy that are saying, “I simply can’t afford business, but if you offer me smething closer or in between. I’m prepared to pay for it.”

    Mr Sansavini’s view contrasts with that of fellow Oneworld member Qatar Airways who continues to claim (as you will have read in the premium economy surveys I have written for the magazine) that its economy class is as good as other airlines’ premium economy classes.

    And now with the introduction of its new “super” business class the comfort/space gap between what Qatar Airways is offering between the two classes makes no sense to me.

    Qatar Airways reveals new business class

    Maybe Emirates’ plans for premium economy will lead to Qatar Airways changing its mind.

    Emirates set to launch premium economy


    It is about time airlines stepped up the game and moved away from charging ludicrous prices for what is in effect only 7 extra inches of seat pitch. Never mind the latest Business class offerings, premium economy is not, and never has been half way between Economy and Business……. except in price, and as for the government taxing it the same as Business Class – what a joke!!


    Just back form LHR-DOH-AKL-DOH-LHR in J with QR on an A380 from/to LHR and a 777-200LR from/to AKL.
    I enjoyed my flights very much, even the 17HRS back to DOH from AKL, the crew were fantastic on all the flights. Greeted by name, personal welcome aboard, thanked individually at the end for flying with QR, ( my partner who is more accustomed to BA couldn’t believe his ears!), decent food (but very similar out and back to AKL, not great),BUT, while I would never contemplate such a flight in Y, I don’t think I would do so in Y+ either. The usual offering for Y+ is 4-6 inches for extra legroom and possible a bit of recline and better food but at a price that is 50% plus of Y.What made two very long flights not just suvivable but enjoyable, was a flat bed! Yes, I appreciate that the people in Y didn’t get one but they knew they hadn’t paid for “extra” comfort which I don’t think happens in Y+ much unless for a daylight flight of about 6-9 hours, when you do see real benefits.
    I have paid for Y+ on both BA and VS in the past. Indeed, on LHR-SFO flights on VS I’ve had a great time. I understand form FDOS_UK and others here that Y+ does have something to offer but not if you start to pretend it is “business lite”. I can understand why EK are wavering with so many longer type flights. God knows, Y has become horrible on most airlines but I am not convinced most people will see the benefit for their money if they “upgrade” to Y+
    Stick to the mad QR sales,when they come along!!!!


    Great post, Alex.

    it is self evident to anyone that the premium economy offer breaks down into two parts

    1 – the seat
    2 – the other stuff

    The seat in QR Y is not much different to any other Y seat – end of. Nowhere near a W seat.

    The ‘Y’ F and B and checked baggage allowance probably are not far away from W on some other airlines and the IFE is good.

    As to the fitness of purpose of W, I take a lot of daytime flights to the Gulf, from the UK. I find a W seat more than adequate for a 6.5 hour trip.

    Sometimes, coming back, I have to take a shortish overnight flight – the reality is that you’re not going to get a lot of sleep regardless of what you class you are in, so I’ll choose W for that, too.

    I typically pay 30-50% more for W, which given the low base of a Y fare, I find good value for money – whereas business is usually multiples of the Y price.

    True long haul flying is a different matter, more space and lie flat come into their own and the cost is justifiable. Tokyo in F or J is a prime example.


    It’s interesting in this context to note some feedback I had recently from Senior Offspring, who is now in her first year of university in the UK. Without wishing to give too much away about family matters, she does have a choice of airlines to get her back from the UK using connections, but we have settled on Finnair for a combination of timing, price, and convenience of connection in HEL. When she was at boarding school she had primarily been flying PE on BA (London was the nearest destination to school, but isn’t for her university).

    We do pay extra for her to fly “Economy Comfort”, which has a few inches extra legroom, an upgraded headset and an amenity kit, but otherwise identical seats and service to the rest of economy, and therefore falling considerably short of BA’s (and everyone else’s) PE product. Having flown them a few times myself long haul (not in economy, though!) I have seen the hard product and frankly it looks pretty basic to me. However, despite being above average size (she gets her height from me!) she is a big fan and is apparently much happier than she was in BA PE. This is something of a mystery to me, except for the fact that we take great care to ensure she gets one of the aisle seats that has an empty space in front (22 C and J on the A350 – there is a floor hatch in front so they can’t place a seat in where 21 C or J would otherwise be).

    I entirely sympathise with those whose budget (whether their own, or their client’s/employer’s) does not permit business class and understand why they would go for PE, but I do tend to agree that the premium charged over economy can be difficult to justify. When you see a frogleap of the kind that QR are proposing for their J product – well, I do struggle with the idea that they can’t find a halfway house which would show a significant improvement over economy and be a real justification for a price increase, but still be profitable. But then I am not an economist or analyst!


    Some weeks ago I flew Air Canada Premium Economy in a Dreamliner from Brussels to Montreal (Business was sold out). There is a separate PE cabin configured across three rows that is set between between business and economy in a 2 3 2 layout. 38 inches of legroom, nice wide seat (20 inches I think) and a lot of recline for sleeping. The meal service was good with real plates and metal knives and forks etc. Good value for money as well, I spoke to a Canadian man sitting next to me and he said on average there was about a C$450 increase over economy seating and much cheaper than Business.


    I’m a big fan of Premium Economy products, when done well i.e Virgin Atlantic. As i travel for leisure and trips are self-funded, i’ll chose to fly Premium Economy over Economy any day as I cant usually afford business class (unless i bag a bargain with QR).

    However, in my experience, the product is only worth a finite amount more than Economy – i work on the rough basis of £25 per hour of flight. For a 9 hour flight, that’s an extra £225 over the economy fare and, particularly on a night flight, that’s a sum i’m willing to pay for a bigger seat, more legroom and better service. I rarely use the extra baggage allowance and would love to see a reduced upgrade cost but with Y luggage allowance. I wonder how many people in W actually utilise the extra baggage allowance anyway?

    I’d love QR to introduce a W product, i’m sure it’d be really impressive, but as long as they continue to sell J at the prices they do, i’m quite happy with that too!!


    KLM have their Economy Comfort seats, as mentioned.
    These are on all European flights, bu sliding forwards the Curtain between business and Economy, which 3 years ago occupied the first 10 rows on KLM LHR-AMS flights. Now it is 2-4 rows.
    As the seating is for at least the first 6-10 rows, and about a third on The CityHopper Embraer’s, these are terrific for a short haul European fight, on 737/8/9’s also. Flights in EC cost £10-30, discounts for Silver, Gold (50%, or free to Platinum Skyteam members.

    On medium and long haul, it remains the seats at the front of economy, which for £100+, I am not sure how anyone feels about that without any extra baggage, priorities, cabin divisions, meals etc.
    Virgin Atlantic at times on their LHR-HKG SYD route, at times had the PE at more than a Business return, 3/4 times the economy rate.
    Mileages earned can be 100% + your status benefits for many Airlines, where an I / Z Business gets you 125%.

    I prefer the divided cabin, extras in all services, Baggage, check in, meals, seat difference, and the feel on board with a dedicated area. For Airlines like KLM that only have Business and economy, this could be an excellent opportunity, and make much in revenue.
    Air France have 1st and a good PE, so 4 classes, as opposed to KLM’s 2.
    The Gulf Airlines seem to be losing custom and profits, and cutbacks are notable at the moment. Perhaps this is an advantage for other Airlines to really design something special, as did Air New Zealand’s Space Seat, Cathay, Virgin Australia / Atlantic for leisure not just business travellers.

    However, is it really for Leisure travellers rather than the Business Market?


    I agree totally with you FDOS_UK I have just returned from a return SIN – LHR with QR and the Y product is most definitely just that, what makes the difference is the plane you are sat on! The 350 which is what I was supposed to travel with on all 4 legs is a prime example, the seat is good, the IFE is excellent the pitch is manageable and the general ambience of the hard product is good.

    Compare that with the A330 we were unfortunately assigned due to “operational issues” from LHR and the experience is totally different, I would not choose to do a long sector in that plane even the IFE is sub standard.

    Therefore having a Premium Econ product for QR following on from the excellent service encountered in Y would be of interest to me (subject to price) again the only downside for my husband is the appalling mess that is Immigration in T4 at Heathrow

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