Every traveller knows the pain of economy class. The cramped seating. The pitiful entertainment choices. The food (or is it?) that looks like it’s already been eaten and regurgitated by a previous passenger. Just let that image sink in for a second.
Now that you’re feeling sufficiently nauseous, let’s talk about the alternatives. If you’re in for a long flight and you can afford to bump yourself up to business, do it without hesitation. If you can’t, relax – you won’t be forced to sit with the proles, thanks to a little thing called premium economy.
A growing number of airlines are jumping on the premium economy bandwagon, offering perks like wider seats, more legroom and enhanced onboard catering in special seating. On the ground, premium economy passengers may also be treated to priority boarding and perhaps even access to an airport lounge. Sound good? We thought so. Book your next adventure in one of these top-tier premium economy seats:
Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand seems to be at the forefront of in-flight innovation these days, and the premium economy seats are a welcome addition to the airline. Expect a large reclining chair which, with 41” of seat pitch, is amongst the biggest in its class. There’s also a leg rest, a 5” armrest separating you from your snoring neighbour, and 9” of reclining space, so you can comfortably take a snooze when you’re bored of watching movies on your 11″ touch-screen.
Cathay Pacific has blown reviewers away with their premium economy offerings. It’s a good bet for the work hard/play hard types, as the seats are equipped with in-seat power sockets, USB sockets and a wealth of entertainment options. The list of perks is long, but a few of the highlights include a mini cocktail table, champagne offered before take off, noise-cancelling head phones, Jurlique beauty products, an expansive entertainment selection, and food you might actually order in a restaurant.
Lufthansa introduced a premium economy product to their long haul fleet earlier this year. The seats offer 50% more room than what you get in economy, plus a centre console between seats that offers an armrest for each passenger. Just imagine flight with 0 time spent elbow wrestling. Passengers in premium economy are also able to check a second item of luggage at no extra cost and get to eat off porcelain tableware like real adults.
What’s in a name? Turkish Airways calls their premium economy seating “Comfort Class,” and comfort is exactly what it delivers. The new class offers 46” seat pitch and 19.5” seat width, configured in a 2 x 3 x 2 format – which means you can say goodbye to most of those middle seats you avoided like a crazy ex-girlfriend. Unfortunately, Comfort Class has inexplicably been a poor money maker and Turkish Airlines has announced they will be removing it from their fleet, so enjoy it while you can.
You have Marc Newson to thank for the exceptional experience in Qantas premium economy class. The award-winner directed everything from the design of the ergonomic seats to the china on which the meals (overseen by the chef responsible for acclaimed Aussie restaurants like Rockpool) are served. From the design touches, to the footrests (at every seat), to the moveable TV screens and the 40” seat pitch, it’s everything you want on the long haul service Qantas offers.
According to Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti, the exclusive premium economy cabin on Virgin Australia flights isn’t meant to be ‘economy plus’ but ‘business lite.’ The service more than lives up to that moniker, with noise cancelling headphones, reading lights, the infamous RED entertainment system, better meals and an amenity kit that includes an eye mask, ear plugs, socks, lotions, a toothbrush and toothpaste. Good old Branson is never one to do things by halves, so expect nothing but the exceptional on Virgin Australia.
There’s good news and there’s bad news. The bad news is for Air Canada’s economy class: the airline switched from 9-seats-across to 10-across, meaning less space and more passengers. The good news is for those looking for an upgrade: that move made room for a new premium economy class, a separate cabin with more legroom and more recline (better luck next time, economy). Passengers in those seats are entitled to both priority airport services and premium amenities onboard.
You may not have heard of OpenSkies yet, but you’ll want to book a ticket as soon as you’ve finished reading. OpenSkies is a boutique subsidiary of British Airways flying nonstop between Paris and NYC. A trip on the airline is already something special, but the Prem Plus service makes it even more so. Inside the intimate cabin you’ll find spacious seats, 5-star food, full bar service and, best of all, your own personal iPad equipped with 70 hours of the latest movies, music, games and entertainment.
British Airways jazzes up the name of its premium economy seating – World Traveller Plus – and, thankfully, jazzes up everything else about its service to match. All the upgrades you expect are there: more spacious seats, noise-reducing headphones, an amenity kit, an enlarged personal entertainment screen, three-course meals, complimentary bar service and, perhaps most importantly in our modern digital age, a personal in-seat power supply so your favourite iDevices will never go hungry.
Alitalia isn’t an airline you hear about often, but Classica Plus could change that. Each passenger gets an individual 10.6-inch IFE screen, a drink prior to departure, and the option to upgrade to premium economy on board. All menus are designed by Gualtiero Marchesi’s Alma International School of Italian Cuisine. For added indulgence, your meal begins with a hot towel and concludes with dessert topped off with an espresso upon request. Because Italians don’t mess around when it comes to dining and drinking.