Premium economy vs economy class: the differences, is it truly worth it?

What can you expect in premium economy about cost, comfort, amenities and service that you don't have in economy class? Let's find out!

If you are planning to travel by air, you might be wondering whether you should book a premium economy class or an economy class ticket.

What are the benefits of each option, and how much more do you have to pay for a premium economy seat?

Let’s find an answer to these questions and more, so you can make an informed decision for your next flight.

What is premium economy?

Premium economy is a class of service that offers more comfort and amenities than economy class, but less than business class.

Premium economy class seats are usually wider, have more legroom, and recline further than economy seats. They also come with perks like priority boarding, larger entertainment screens, noise-canceling headphones and better food and drinks.

Premium is not the same as economy plus or extra legroom seats, which are simply economy seats with more space. Premium economy class is a separate cabin with its own service and features.

How much does premium economy cost?

The price of a premium economy ticket depends on various factors, such as the airline, the route, the demand and the time of booking.

In general you can expect to pay about 50% to 100% more than an economy ticket for a premium economy seat.

For example, according to Google Flights, a round-trip flight from New York to London in November costs $529 in economy class and $1,029 in premium economy on British Airways. That is a difference of $500 or 94%.

Of course, prices can vary depending on when and how you book your flight.

You might be able to find cheaper deals or use your frequent flyer miles to upgrade to premium economy.

Some airlines also offer last-minute upgrades at the airport or during check-in for a lower fee.

What can you expect in premium economy about cost, comfort, amenities and service that you don't get in economy class? Let's find out!

What are the pros and cons of premium economy?

Premium economy has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on your preferences and budget.

Here are some of the pros and cons of choosing premium economy over economy class:

Pros

  • More comfort: You will have more space to stretch out and relax in your seat, which can make a big difference on long-haul flights. You will also enjoy a better quality of sleep and less chance to get severely jet lagged.
  • More amenities: You will have access to enhanced entertainment options, such as larger screens, more movies and shows and noise-canceling headphones. The choice and quality of food and drinks that you will get will also be better, such as sparkling wines, champagne, wine, snacks and hot meals.
  • More service: As premium class flyer, you can benefit from priority boarding, check-in and baggage handling, which can save you lots of time and hassle at the airport. You will also receive more attentive service from the cabin crew, who have fewer passengers to attend to.
  • More value: You will get more bang for your buck compared to business class, which can cost two to three times more than premium economy. You can also earn more frequent flyer miles and status credits when you fly in premium economy instead of economy class.

Cons

  • More expensive: Not surprisingly it will cost more than a standard economy ticket. You will have to pay significantly more for a premium economy seat, which might not fit your budget or travel goals. You might prefer to save money on your flight and spend it on other aspects of your trip, such as accommodation, activities, food or souvenirs.
  • More limited: You will still have less space and comfort than in business class, which offers (practically) fully flat beds, privacy partitions and lounge access. You will also have less flexibility in changing or canceling your flight, as premium economy tickets are usually non-refundable or subject to higher fees.
  • More variable: You might experience different levels of quality and consistency across different airlines and aircrafts when it comes to premium economy. Some airlines offer a superior product than others, and some planes have newer or older seats than others. You will need to do some research before booking to make sure that you get what you pay for.

Is it really worth the extra cost after all?

The answer to this question depends on your personal preferences, needs and budget.

Premium can be worth it if you value comfort, service and amenities over price, and if you can afford the extra cost. Premium can also be worth it if you are traveling for a special occasion, such as a honeymoon or anniversary, or if you need to arrive at your destination well-rested and refreshed.

However, premium economy might not be worth it if you are traveling on a tight budget, or if you don’t mind sacrificing some comfort for a lower price.

Premium economy might also not be worth it if you are traveling on a short-haul flight, where the difference between classes is less noticeable.

Ultimately, the choice is yours.

You will need to weigh the pros and cons of premium vs economy class for yourself and decide what matters most to you.

What can you expect in premium economy about cost, comfort, amenities and service that you don't get in economy class? Let's find out!

Does a premium economy ticket give you business lounge access?

Most airlines only give lounge access to passengers booked in business class or first class.

However, there are some exceptions.

For instance, Qantas partner Japan Airlines and Star Alliance member ANA are two exceptions to this rule, with premium economy passengers given access to the same lounges as business class flyers.

If you don’t have a frequent flyer status or a credit card that provides lounge access, you can still purchase a lounge pass.

For example, SWISS Business Lounge access vouchers can be booked with a valid ticket for a SWISS, Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels or Edelweiss flight.

What is the difference between premium economy and economy plus?

Premium economy and economy plus are two classes of service that offer more comfort than standard economy class.

Premium economy

Premium economy is positioned between coach and business class, both price-wise and in terms of placement on the aircraft.

A seat in premium economy is measurably more expensive than an economy ticket, but it is still 65% less expensive than business class.

Premium offers on average five to seven inches more legroom than economy, typically with wider seats and more space to recline. It also provides different meal offerings than the main class cabin, amenity kits, and priority boarding.

Passengers flying in premium economy often won’t have to pay fees on their checked baggage, and they accrue airline miles at a different rate than on a coach ticket.

Economy plus

Economy plus is a slightly upgraded version of the standard economy class.

It involves standard economy seats with additional legroom. Unlike premium economy, which is generally separated from economy class, economy plus is still part of the main cabin.

The main difference is that you have a better seat with more legroom, and your seat will be right at the front of the cabin.

There might also be more flexibility when it comes to making changes to your ticket, depending on what airline you are flying with.

What can you expect in premium economy about cost, comfort, amenities and service that you don't get in economy class? Let's find out!

What airlines offer the best price quality premium economy class?

There are several airlines that offer premium class with a good balance of price and quality.

According to Condé Nast Traveler, some of the best premium economy seats that are actually worth upgrading for include are:

  1. Emirates: The premium class cabin offers better meals, fancier cocktails, roomier seats and upgraded amenities such as dedicated check-in and access to more storage space. Passengers also get a large throw pillow, six-way adjustable headrest, calf-and-foot rests, and an in-flight entertainment screen measuring 13.3 inches wide, as well as a dining table with side cocktail table, and charging ports.
  2. Singapore Airlines: The airline’s premium economy cabin offers wider seats with more legroom, adjustable footrests, calf rests, and headrests with wings. Passengers also get a 13.3-inch HD touchscreen monitor with noise-canceling headphones and a wide range of entertainment options.
  3. Qantas Airways: The airline’s premium economy cabin offers wider seats with more legroom, adjustable footrests, calf rests, and headrests with wings. Passengers also get a 13.3-inch HD touchscreen monitor with noise-canceling headphones and a wide range of entertainment options.
  4. Japan Airlines: The airline’s premium economy cabin offers wider seats with more legroom, adjustable footrests, calf rests, and headrests with wings. Passengers also get a 12-inch touchscreen monitor with noise-canceling headphones and a wide range of entertainment options.
  5. Air New Zealand: The airline’s premium economy cabin offers wider seats with more legroom, adjustable footrests, calf rests, and headrests with wings. Passengers also get a 12-inch HD touchscreen monitor with noise-canceling headphones and a wide range of entertainment options.
  6. Virgin Atlantic: The airline’s premium economy cabin offers wider seats with more legroom, adjustable footrests, calf rests, and headrests with wings. Passengers also get a 13.3-inch HD touchscreen monitor with noise-canceling headphones and a wide range of entertainment options.
  7. Cathay Pacific Airways: The airline’s premium economy cabin offers wider seats with more legroom, adjustable footrests, calf rests, and headrests with wings. Passengers also get a 12-inch HD touchscreen monitor with noise-canceling headphones and a wide range of entertainment options.
  8. Lufthansa: The airline’s premium economy cabin offers wider seats with more legroom than in Economy Class as well as an adjustable backrest and footrest for greater comfort on long-haul flights. Passengers also get a 12-inch HD touchscreen monitor with noise-canceling headphones and a wide range of entertainment options.
  9. Delta Air Lines: The airline’s premium economy cabin offers wider seats with more legroom than in Economy Class as well as an adjustable backrest and footrest for greater comfort on long-haul flights. Passengers also get a 13.3-inch HD touchscreen monitor with noise-canceling headphones and a wide range of entertainment options.
  10. American Airlines: The airline’s premium economy cabin offers wider seats with more legroom than in Economy Class as well as an adjustable backrest and footrest for greater comfort on long-haul flights. Passengers also get a 12-inch HD touchscreen monitor with noise-canceling headphones and a wide range of entertainment options.

We always book our flights on BOOKING: it’s the best way to find the best flight at the lowest price.

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