It sounds a little more appealing than the word “economy”, which has become quite prevalent these days.
Airlines continue to improve the seats most of us pass by on our way to cramped economy class seats, as they seem to keep making economy class more painful on long journeys.
Watching your favorite movies, listening to music, and meditating may be effective ways to cope with the current economy class experience. You may wonder if you have room to ride in your seat.
For decades, an upgrade to business class was the only option on most international flights. These days, many airlines are adding a new product to their long-haul flights, calling it Premium Economy (or a similar name specific to the airline).
More seat options translate to more price points and a wider range of perks. It might be great in theory, but it’s important to understand what you can expect in premium economy or business class.
Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free bi-weekly Aviation newsletter.
What are the benefits of Premium Economy?
Premium economy cabins are now widely available on international flights, especially American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.
One of the biggest benefits of Premium Economy is space. A typical premium economy seat is not much larger than an economy class seat.
Sign up for our daily newsletter
The biggest difference is the spacing between the perimeter seats. There is usually a fairly large armrest between you and the seat next to you. This means you are less likely to accidentally bump elbows with your seatmate.
You’ll also notice more legroom. Premium For his economy, there is little chance of your knee hitting the seat in front of you. Besides, it’s less likely that someone will pull the seat back and get out of the seat (although he’ll always have one passenger…).
Upgraded meal service is another perk found in virtually all premium economy cabins.
After the worst of the pandemic seemed to be past, airlines are starting to adjust their offerings, making premium economy dining a little more appealing.
However, it is important to set reasonable expectations. This is still airline catering. On long flights, you should expect a hot meal first. Many airlines offer similar menu items in both business class and premium economy.
In premium economy you probably won’t have multiple courses and you won’t have china or silverware.
Most airlines offer a second snack or snack before landing on long flights, but other types of meals are rarely served during the flight.
The remaining benefits of premium economy are unlikely to be game-changers, but they are nice to have. Rarely.
Increased baggage allowance is pretty common, as are bonus miles on paid flights.
RELATED: How to upgrade from economy to premium economy without breaking the bank
What are the business class benefits?
The business class experience often begins before you even set foot on the plane. As you can imagine, priority check-in and boarding are available in most cases.
You may also have lounge access before your flight or between connections. The business class lounge experience ranges from modest and curated to an a la carte he menu and vintage champagnes. It’s a good idea to do a little research on these perks before choosing your flights.
International business class is generally the best seat on most airlines. There are a few airlines that still offer a true first-class product (just look at Lufthansa), but business class is usually just as good.
Flat seats and plenty of space are standard in today’s business class. In most cases, each passenger has direct aisle access, but some new products, such as TAP Portugal’s new A320neo business class, require the person in the window seat to climb over someone to get to the bathroom. I have. Large flat-screen TVs offer plenty of entertainment during your flight.
Bedding is more luxurious than Premium Economy. The duvet and pillows are table stakes. In some cases, such as the Polaris class on United Airlines, you can find cooling gel pillows and other accessories.
In short, if you can’t sleep in typical business class bedding, you probably can’t sleep on an airplane.
Meal service is more luxurious than premium economy. A flight’s first meal usually consists of multiple courses and may include special delicacies such as caviar and dessert carts.
There are usually many fine wines to choose from, with decent to excellent champagnes on offer.
The overall service in the Business Cabin is a higher touch than in Premium Economy. Flight attendants may check in multiple times during meal service and provide beverage refills.
A second meal service is typically offered on long-haul flights and is very similar to the second meal/snack served in Premium Economy.
Business class passengers typically receive an increased checked baggage allowance and an amenity kit when boarding.
These kits include essentials such as eye masks, ear plugs, toothpaste and combs. Some kits, like those from Rimowa, are worth having in your luggage.
Finally, business class fares typically earn considerably more miles than premium economy fares. There are good reasons for this. It can cost twice as much to fly on the sharp edge of an airplane.
Related: Are these airlines really the best and worst for business class travel?
Price difference between premium economy and business class
Renting extra space on your next flight can get pretty expensive. It’s not always the case, but the current difference between economy, premium economy and business class fares is the biggest we’ve seen in quite some time.
As a rule of thumb, you can expect an upgrade to premium economy to cost at least 50% more than economy class. There is often an additional charge of 75% to 100%.
Also, on most long-haul flights, seats in business class can be at least 75% more expensive than in premium economy, and on many popular routes, it costs double to transfer to business class.
I checked fares from American cities such as New York and Washington to popular European cities such as London and Paris.
Economy class tickets ranged from $500 to $800 round trip. Premium Economy fares range from $1,100 to $1,600. Business class was cheap at $2,600 round trip, but flights with more desirable route options went up significantly.
If you’re considering Premium Economy or Business Class, pay for your ticket with a credit card that allows you to earn bonus points on your ticket booking.
American Express Platinum Card® offers 5 points per dollar spent on tickets booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel. Also, with Bilt Rewards’ new “Rent Day” promotion, you can earn 4 points per dollar spent on all travel purchases made on the first day of the month.
RELATED: 7 Tips and Tricks for Business Class Travel (Beginners to Beginners)
Conclusion: Should You Upgrade?
By today’s standards, buying up to premium economy or business class on your next international flight can be prohibitively expensive.
There are several important factors to consider when making your decision. Flight length and timing are definitely important factors.
The longer the flight, the more value you get from the extra space, especially on night flights. But you’ll pay a lot for that privilege.
If you’re flying from New York to Iceland with a short red eye, the hefty business class premium doesn’t make much sense.
The cost of upgrading is also an important consideration.
Paying twice as much for an economy class ticket for a little less money on food and a little more legroom can take a serious hit to your future travel budget.
Finally, another factor to consider is whether there is a more affordable way to upgrade.
Some airlines, such as Hawaiian Airlines, allow you to bid for an upgrade to a premium cabin. In some cases, miles can also be used to upgrade to premium economy or business class at far more affordable prices than cash.
An upgrade to premium economy or business class usually makes the most sense on the longest flights.
Usually, the difference in price due to flight length is not that great. This means maximum cost-effectiveness on long-haul flights to Europe, Asia and South America.