The meaning of Premium Economy

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This topic contains 13 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  hirowaco 15 Apr 2010
at 15:08

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)

  • Anonymous


    Recently, because of depression of world economy, so many businesstravellers are asked to seat in down-graded class by their company. Therefore, the demand of even more slightly relaxed seat, Premium Economy is sharply increased.
    However, in my opinion, this above mentioned class is the one for airline companies to raise profit with less stronger effort.
    For the case of BA’s PY, it’s impossible to use lounge and in-flight meal is completely the same as Y class.
    From my experience, it would be better for the airlines which have PY that they should provide lounge access and baggage priority at least.


    1. It is possible to use the lounge if you are a regular, loyal BA customer in possession of a Gold or Silver BAEC card.

    2. Catering does vary modestly between World Traveller and World Traveller Plus. You get served first, priority choice of meals and also a proper glass for your wine.

    While permitting lounge acces and further differentiating catering may indeed be a nice idea, such improvements would devalue the Business class cabin. You are paying significantly less to travel in a Premium Economy product.

    If it doesn’t meet you needs, pay to fly business, or just upgrade using your miles (just 10,000 BA miles is enough for a one way upgrade to from DXB-LHR, for instance).

    A BA Gold Card member travelling WT+ between Nice and LA earns enough miles on the flights that their upgrade is *almost* free.


    Premier Economy on Qantus is absolutely fantastic – big seats, lots more room and meal served on china – even champagne on arrival. Reminded me much of old business class.

    This product was far superior to BA’s World Traveller Plus, yet gets you same points and miles and you can use same lounges.


    BA’s PE was one of the first but is now one of the oldest. For reasons discussed elsewhere, improvements have been few, and newer PE cabins are leapfrogging the older ones and recreating a pre-flatbeds business class. JAL now offers very comfortable PE seats with lounge access, ANZ has relaunched its PE to a positive reception on these forums and, as degreecy says, Quantas’s new PE definitely has the emphasis on the premium. If other Asian carriers and middle eastern carriers follow suit, the we can expect the bar (and the prices) to be raised accordingly. The rear cabin on the top deck of SQ’s A380 seems made for a separate, smaller PE class. In most cases (there are exceptions, eg EVA), there is a significant price difference between economy and PE, so without the comfort of business class flat beds travellers rightly expect a big difference in services.


    As MichelAngelo rightly says, there are differences emerging between the premium economy products.

    In the third tier we have the likes of Eva Air, VS and BA who launched the product in the 1990s. But these carriers have made few changes in the meantime.

    Second tier premium economy carriers include AF, JAL and Qantas. These carriers offer improved seating and a few more perks.

    In the first tier we find the forthcoming products from ANA and ANZ. But before you get too excited, bear in mind that these improved premium economy classes will not be available for some time yet. ANA has postponed its product launch for a few more months. ANZ’s new premium economy isn’t set to appear before November (and then only on one transpacific route). It won’t be seen in London until Spring 2011.


    And indeed it will be interesting to assess these new “first tier” premium economy products from a cost perspective, especially relative to their own carriers’ business class fares.


    Exactly. At the moment, in PY, there are three tiers.
    However, I guess that more competition for the aspects of extra services or seat pitch will arise very soon as airlines enter this product business quite harder and harder. Hope this kind competion will be the factor of upgrading the hospitality in PY.


    I can see a trend which means Y+ supplants C for some, as it gets to the standard that C was originally in the 80s and early 90s, when it had seat pitch around 37-40″, slightly better meals and more recline. As C became more competitive all of those increased, pushing F to the margins for many.

    Bear in mind the pressures on Y+ are market driven. Whilst VS recently improved its Y+ hard product, it still isn’t that much better than BA to threaten BA’s loads in that class.

    JL and NH have the same effect on each other, whilst NZ hard product currently isn’t special, it faces pressure from QF which is slightly better, so NZ new Y+ will be a significant leap forward (and we can see CX and MH both now talking about Y+ no doubt because the spread of Y+ means both are missing out on an opportunity).

    However, VK is right they key will be fares relative to C. As NZ has no F class, it is putting C as its premium level, and really only has SQ and CX as major high end one stop competition between NZ and Europe (and QF for the US), so can price accordingly. However, the size of its proposed new Y+ cabin (50 compared to 39 on 744s)on the forthcoming 77Ws indicates it intends to sell more seats in that class than ever before.

    Y+ is the new C, C is the new F, except for a handful of airlines with serious top end traffic (as can be seen by QF restricting it to LHR and LAX to Australia).


    Just flown from London back to HK with BA. I feel the only difference between economy and prem economy is the width/ pitch of the seat.

    No advance boarding, no welcome drink, horrible food which looked like it came out of the local 7-11 !!

    We went from HK to London on Qantas PE which was excellent but unfortunately the Qantas flight coming back was full so we had to endure BA.

    Frankly, don’t waste your money on BA PE – there is no point.


    VAustralia have pushed the boat out a bit more than others in the Virgin Group, with their Australia to South Africa, US, Thailand, Fiji routes, with more planned later this year.
    They have a stand up bar least, an area to get out, good spacious comfortable seating & premium food.

    NZ always have had a good reputation for International Pacific Premium that runs around the 1.5-2x the economy fares, & the seating is good, meals same as business class. Their new ideas will be interesting to see come to fruition. Eva Air has a good seat but the fares are very reasonable, only about %30+ more on say LHR – BKK! This could be a time for innovation in PE…long haul
    Malaysian are to introduce this class, Cathay wouldn’t, but are now seriously looking.

    I checked out VS LHR -SYD via HKG, & fares have gone from £900 last year to £2,200 in PE just now, but then Business fares have done the same to around £4,000 now return. For me, PE is not worth that much.

    Seat difference, space, where on the plane, Meals, Luggage increased, lounge access,FF Miles earned- the more boxes ticked, the better the chance, but for sure, this must be balanced by a reasonable price.
    In some ways PE is often more marketed internally to existing customers, than outside, so this is in my view, an effort to get current FF members using PE, getting more Y to upgrade, & trying to capture more Business downgraders to something in-between.
    Most I see in PE cabins (even though i travel Business long haul), & in chatting to various crews on flights, are leisure travellers upgrading.

    Either way, it is a growth in custom, few Airlines are ignoring.


    Having just flown on the BA25 from LHR to HKG in Premium Economy or BA World Traveller Plus – it’s worth mentioning how bad this product is in comparison to other airlines!

    Positives first – Air New Zealand – superb on their 747s, nice, small, intimate cabin layout, great food and wines, great friendly service throughout, priortiy check-in, boarding, disembarkation and luggage collection etc. Virgin very similar – great wide leather seat, although the food can be a bit hit and miss! Qantas is superb and one of the best in it’s league – superb service from on the ground and in the air – this is really worth the money!

    BA on the otherhand – where do you begin! The positive first – 2 bags allowed, 23KG and you can pay £30 anywhere in the world for excess baggage weight up to 32KG – this is actually ok compared to other airlines. However, it goes downhill from their very quickly! No dedicated priortiy check-in. No dedicated priority boarding and the assistant in London T5 made a complete mess of boarding allowing a queue for Executive Club and First Class only to board, which she then abandoned and anyone could get through! Onboard, no-one in the cabin spoke to us, welcomed us, offered us a drink etc – distinct lack of friendliness throughout the flight. Food was literally a ready meal with the ingredients listed on the foil, serving the same White Chocolate Raspberry Biscuit crunch desert they’ve been serving for the past 5 years, wines served from a plastic bottle, rubbish collected from you but without any form of communication other than a hand thrust in front of you, tray tables faulty, uncomfortable seat, small IFE screen no bigger than economy, tiny thin flat pillow and thin blanket, amenity kit was an apology, at no point did the crew come through the 11 hour flight to offer drinks (even though this is part of their recommended in-flight health guidelines) – the list goes on and on…

    Basically, BA Premium Economy is a tiny step up from their economy – economy service with a slightly different seat. Air NZ, Virgin and Qantas are offering a superior product that is offering Business Class service, without the flatbed/executive seat that is definitely worth paying for, making them your priority to book with and really leaving BA on the shelve again – an experience NOT worth paying for or putting yourself through.


    A very interesting report, MCGHK34, and one that I’m sure that any airline’s customer services department would wish to be made aware of. As this relates to BA, I’d always encourage passengers to take the opportunity to log in to their Executive Club account and send them an email.

    This is particularly relevant, it appears, since your experiences do in part at least seem to relate to specific staff-members and service levels, as opposed to those which are specified for the overall World Traveller Plus product.

    On my last WTP flight, I must agree that I thought the catering quality lamentable, though the service was exemplary. The seat is rather ‘firm’, but it was also the very first example of a network-wide premium economy product and therefore it’s only to be expected that others will have refined the concept since.

    As others in this thread (and similar ones) have noted, different carriers have approached this refinement in different ways. KLM and United simply increase pitch and recline; Air New Zealand go for redesigned seats and priority boarding. There isn’t, as far as I can see, a right or wrong way to approach this. What is reasonably clear is that a) BA know where in the current market their product sits – and price it accordingly, and b) that they will be one of the next airlines to upgrade it, though no-one knows how yet.

    When they do, it will presumably go on to every single longhaul route that they operate, as opposed to the (for example) two routes available to the UK-based Air New Zealand customer. British Airways are also very clear that at least some of the product benefits ‘bundled’ with Virgin and NZ PE products are more than exceeded by membership of and status in the Executive Club and other oneworld FFPs. Indeed, all WTP fares earn full miles and Tier Points and allow passengers to attain EC status really quite quickly, affording not only priority check-in and boarding, but also lounge access – and all for a premium of sometimes as little as £100 per longhaul sector over World Traveller.

    The incremental cost of Premium Economy on NZ/VS/QF is almost always far higher, and their service really can’t be considered to be ‘Business Class’ by any stretch of the imagination. Yes, NZ has hitherto offered J catering, but this is/was driven by the mixed-configuration 744 upper deck. Who knows how they’ll proceed when the type is phased out. Neither NZ nor VS nor QF offer Premium Economy customers lounge access as part of the product. This, I believe, is exclusively an NH component.

    As always, passengers will pay their money and take their choices, but the fact remains that Premium Economy is economy-with-extras, not business-lite.


    I wonder how much we could expect for both cabin and ground hospoitality whenever we fly PY seat.

    Having been experienced from NRT toLHR in BA World Traveller Plus before, I agree with the opinion some of you previously post into this.
    Obviously to say that, the difference between Y and WTP is only seat pitch. However, if you are the member of BA Executive Club, it would be much faster to be able to higher tier that enable you to the lounge and special complimentary service.

    At this stage, on the Kangaloo route (LHR-SYD-LHR), loads of airline companies make struggle competitions. For example, BA, QF, SQ, CX, EK, JL etc….
    Except for SQ, EK, CX, they have their original PY.
    It is interesting to know that CX starts to sell more roomed normal Y seat as Extra-legroom seat.

    As my definition, I indicate that PY is just on the extention of CX Extra-legroom seat. (From the view of mileage, slightly different.)

    Therefore, we can’t expect too much about this PY CLS, to conclude.

    At present, Japanese airline, NH offers only PY seast to their elite member and I have been offered slightly wider seat on the flight from HKG to NRT last January,however, it was terrible. No VIP greeting on board and it was unable to use NH offered lounge in Hong Kong and I have to use UA Redcarpet Club to present my SAG card.

    Hopefully, more improvement both cabin and ground service will be done from their competition. If so, more benefit will be occured to us.

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