Comparing Economy and PE – BA, CX and QFBack to Forum
Anonymous2 Nov 2013
A significant chunk of my work is for development agencies, NGOs and humanitarian charities which, understandably, have strict rules relating to the class of flight that consultants use. Therefore, I am well aware of the pleasures (generally) and (occasional) tribulations of Economy Class travel. Over the past few months, I have flown long-haul in economy with BA (Mid-J, High-J on the 747; 777-200 and 777-300); CX (777-300); and QF (380, 330-300 and 767 Domestic). I have also flown PE on both BA (old and new) and QF during this period. I thought it would be interesting to compare experiences across a number of criteria.
Economy seat – comfort and legroom
Old version is OK but cramped. Newer 777-300 seats are much better and allow reasonable mobility on long flights.
New seats in Economy are well padded and recline to allow a good resting position. However, the arm rests (the Economy Class battleground between neighbours) is ultra narrow and certainly cannot accommodate two elbows – in the 9 across or 10 across debate, I would argue that the arm rest is the make or break factor, not seat width.
International Economy seats are good and legroom allows sufficient room to work effectively with your laptop. Domestic long-haul seats on the 767 are dire and very cramped.
PE seat – comfort and legroom
Old PE seat is poor in comfort and recline terms but the new version is, arguably, up there with best in class – comfortable, reclines well and there is plenty of room for my (shortish, admittedly) legs
Not used the seat but observed from the front row of Economy – looks spacious with plenty of room between seats so now elbow room issues.
Great seat on the 380, with plenty of legroom and also sideways spread room. Soft padding and reclines to a fabulous degree. On the 747, feels alot more cramped, especially if located in one of the middle seats in the 4 seat block.
Slept soundly on all recent journeys with BA in both Economy and PE.
Excellent nights sleep in Economy – front row gives really good legroom but the arm rests!!
Great sleep on the 380; 330 flights were daytime; awful, sleepless experience transcontinental on the 767.
QF PE on the 380 gives a great sleep.
Overall, satisfactory but poor when measured on the Emirates comparison scale. Very small screens in Economy and also in old PE.
Overall, satisfactory but poor when measured on the Emirates comparison scale. Good size screens in Economy, Business class size screens in PE.
Overall, satisfactory but poor when measured on the Emirates comparison scale. Reasonable size on 380, smallish screens on 330, minute on 767. PE screens only marginally enhanced over Economy.
Food and Beverage
Reasonable main meal in Economy; breakfast is very average. Menu card distributed. In PE, pre-flight drinks are just soft options. PE main meal is semi- Business service with ‘real’ cutlery and selections from the Business menu which is great. Breakfast is a let down – full economy with plastic cutlery etc.
Economy meals are good – choice of 3 mains, tasty salad and ice cream. No menu card provided. Crew product knowledge seemed poor (maybe a language issue) but I listened to very different descriptions of meals running parallel down the two aisles (pork – meat; potatoes which were really gnocchi). Breakfast, fairly standard. ‘Upmarket’ plastic cutlery. PE pre-flight drinks includes bubbly.
Tasty, fresh and well-presented meals throughout with real cutlery. Domestic flights also have good food offering in Economy. PE service is top of the range, with linen tablecloths and Business meal options.
Standard BA but generally good and cheerful in Economy and PE. Generally excellent attention to safety details.
Distant service in Economy – limited engagement with passengers and, compared to previous experience going back 25 years, markedly inferior English skills. Noticed this contrasting service to high quality premium cabin service on a number of Asian airlines. Failure to enforce safety requirements for takeoff/ landing – seat backs, electronic equipment.
Robust, friendly service throughout. Seemingly casual attitude to safety requirements for takeoff/ landing – seat backs, electronic equipment.
All oneworld status members welcomed as a matter of standard, priority boarding covers all status members. CSD ‘visit’ on SOME flights but only for EC Gold.
oneworld denial – only Marco Polo club members welcomed aboard and no priority boarding for others.
All oneworld status members welcomed as a matter of standard, priority boarding covers all status members. CSD ‘visit’ to QF FFs only.
Economy: 6/10; Old PE: 4/10; New PE: 8/10 – marks lost for breakfast catering
Economy: 8/10; PE: N/A (but looks to be 8/10 with marks lost for catering)
Economy: 9/10 (international); 5/10 (767 domestic); PE: 8/102 Nov 2013
Very fortunate not to have to fly economy and have not done so with BA in at least 15 years. One reason is that I find I simply cannot sleep upright and BA have few day time services both to and from LHR on the same route.
When I go for a walk (on most flights) it always looks pretty dire and it is the noise I notice most.
I did fly Sri Lankan a few years ago day time to Paris from CMB and it was actually bearable with really good and attentive crew.
I also fly CX a lot in Asia and not adverse to 5 or 6 hours on day time with them. The seat is fine (aisle essential) but the crew and food are usually superb.
Day time for me is the key. Being on board 10-12 hours in near upright condition means that my body clock needs to be in tune.
Decent IFE is essential to stem the boredom and attentive and interested crew a definite bonus.2 Nov 2013
Interesting review, Tom.
I have a day flight PE to Newark with BA in a couple of weeks and it appears to be on a 772 with the new seat, so I’ll be intrigued to see what it is like.
I was due to fly in this seat last time, but got an invol upgrade to a middle CW seat, to be honest, I would rather have had the PE seat on a day flight.
Note to self, pack some cereal bars for an afternoon snack.3 Nov 2013
I believe that all 777-300/A380/787 have the new WT+ and the 777-200 with only 24 WT+ seats also.
Not sure about the rest, but maybe someone else can assist.
So you can look up the seat plan for a flight and work it out.4 Nov 2013
British Airways has really scored well with its new Premium Economy cabin:4 Nov 2013
Fascinating review, and a clear distinction at the economy class level, but you end up giving all the PE cabins 8/10. If all three were on the same route for the same price, which would you pick? Feel free to distinguish for daytime/nighttime flights, but do at least tell you which one appealed to you most6 Nov 2013
Great comparison Tom…..
It’s interesting that you use EK’s IFE system as a bench mark ?
In my humble opinion you’ve quite rightly set the bar high…
And the armrest issue is actually something I’ve not thought about, but have indeed suffered from…hence my aversion to sitting in the middle seat!!
All too many times I feel like I’ve been “boxing Helena’ed” by the aisle and window travelling bulies…6 Nov 2013
Ian, I did, maybe I was tired when i wrote the review. But note the poor mark for BA’s old PE and I guess I should have given 6/10 for QF’s PE on the 747.
So, my personal preference would be for QF’s PE on the A380 only – the other two are close behind, though6 Nov 2013