has anyone flown in "premium economy"?

Jul 1st, 2008, 07:53 AM
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has anyone flown in "premium economy"?

Hi everyone,
This article caught my eye: "Niche Between Business and Economy" http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/01/bu...01premium.html

Has anyone flown in one of these seats lately---like Virgin Atlantic's premium economy class or the new OpenSkies? How comfortable was it and did you feel it was worth the price?

The premium-economy possibilities for long flights between the US and Asia or Australia caught my eye. That seems like a good investment, if those seats were significantly more comfortable without the big price tag of full business class.
Jen_P is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 09:29 AM
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Jen - Unfortunately, not yet. Have been looking at this option for trip planned for Nov. Will be interesting to see how this develops. There clearly, at least for the moment, are 2 distinct versions of prem eco - the OpenSkies concept (with 52" pitch, larger seats and upgraded meals), and the current BA/VA/UA concept (38" pitch, regular seat and little enhanced meal service). Will see if the VA/BA version gets upgraded.
dfr4848 is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 09:33 AM
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My first trip to Europe ever was last year and I flew economy on Lufthansa. I was stuck with the middle seat of 3 each way (my 6'1" son got the aisle), yet I was not uncomfortable at all.

I took British Airways this April and tried its premium economy. I have been assured by those who have done BA's PE and regular economy that the PE is nicer. I, personally, will have to try the regular economy and then make up my mind.

At least compared to Lufthansa's regular economy, I really could not see what the fuss was about.
scotlib is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 09:35 AM
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Well, dfr4848 may have answered part of my thoughts/questions .. I tried the PE on an airline where it is not much different from regular?
scotlib is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 09:46 AM
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I've flown PE on Virgin but not recently. I wasn't expecting it to be anywhere near business class, but found the additional width, pitch, recline and leg/foot rest made it much more comfortable to me. And on certain aircraft it eliminates the possibility of a middle seat.

I wouldn't put UA in the same category as BA/VS which definitely do offer an upgraded seat whereas as I understand it, UA E+ only offers more pitch in a regular economy seat.

Open Skies PE looks great. More like old style business than any of the other PE products.
Patty is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 11:54 AM
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I've flown premium economy on SAS. Is it better than coach? Absolutely. Is it a substitute for a good business class seat? Not really.

For a long flight, I think the bump to premium economy gives you enough extra space to be relatively comfortable. But it isn't the huge difference from coach that business class can be. Sleep can still be difficult. And you don't have that much room to really stretch out and work or relax. Also, it will never match the privacy of some of the business class products. It is, largely, just a really good coach seat.

In short, you still realize you are on a plane, and you are still happy to get off of it. I have had some business class flights (esp. on BA) where you can almost forget you are on a plane and where you would happily stay a little longer.

My biggest complaint, however is the pricing. At least from Denmark, the flights often price out at $1700+ to the US and $2200+ to Asia. This puts the pricing in an uncomfortable spot, for me. If I watch the fares, I can get into business class for less than $2500 to the US and maybe $3200 to Asia. Once I am in for $1700+, the business class prices start to look reasonable. On the other side, the prices are usually a bit more than double the lowest coach fare, making it tough to justify the extra expense.

The nail in the coffin, preventing me from buying premium economy, however, is what my elite status gets me for most of my flights. Most of my long-haul travel is on Northwest to the US. With elite status, I always snag an exit row on an A330. These seats are nearly as comfortable as premium economy, with more legroom, decent enough width, and 2-abreast seating. I simply can't justify spending more for premium economy.
travelgourmet is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 03:51 PM
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I've flown British Airways' World Traveller Plus a lot (probably 30 roundtrips) from 2002 until the present and have also flown Virgin's Premium Economy (but not since 2003). BA's WTP product, and the fact that it's available on so many long-haul routes is the main reason I've stayed loyal to BA over the years. I used to fly BA for business achieved gold status. That has meant that when I fly WTP, I usually am treated well. On about 1/3 of my roundtrips, I've been given an operational upgrade in one direction or both. This is because the WTP cabin is small, so if the flight is full in Economy and they move people up to WTP, there's a decent chance that they'll move some passengers with status on revenue (not reward) tickets into Club (business class).

Although I have flown long-haul Economy a few times in the last few years, I go out of my way to avoid it and try to fly BA (or similar), even if I have to take an indirect flight. I can't imagine flying to Asia again in Economy.

Overall, I think premium economy is worth the price for flights of 5 hours or longer. It provides enough room so that you're not uncomfortable or crowded.

Different airlines vary in how they treat their premium economy passengers. I found that BA treats its WTP passengers like Economy Plus (e.g. Economy food, Economy service, Economy check-in privileges - Plus a bigger seat). By contrast, my experiences with Virgin suggested that Virgin treats its premium economy passengers like "Business minus" (e.g. business class in a smaller seat). The food was better than economy (although not as lavish as business), we were offered a welcome drink and there were slightly improved check-in procedures.

My father has flown on some of the discount airlines (e.g. Zoom and Air Transat) in their Premium Economy product and thought they were quite a good value. He's large and tall 34" pitch. The price was comparable to regular economy on a mainstreatm carrier, so he thought the upgrade was a good value.
frogoutofwater is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 03:58 PM
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Oops. I forgot to mention that I've also tried l'Avion - the discount all business class carrier that flies between Newark or Washington) and Orly in Paris. We flew l'Avion on one-way tickets when we moved back from Paris. We had been given a relocation grant (to spend as we wished without having to account for $), so we splurged on seats. It was a good value, relatively speaking, because the one-way tickets were only a little more expensive than half the price of a return ticket. (Often, one-way tickets are as expensive or more expensive than return tickets.)

Better still, l'Avion let us bring our cat, Emma, in the cabin with us. So we had room to stretch out, and Emma relaxed in her carrier on the wide armres between us. The seats were very comfortable (comparable to business class on a US carrier flying coast-to-coast) and the food was relatively good. Service was a bit slow because there weren't as many staff as you'd normally have in business class. Check-in and clearance through security were nightmarish, though. Check-in was very slow (it took us about 20 minutes, even though we were about 4th in line when the check-in desks opened) and it took over an hour to get through security.
frogoutofwater is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 08:11 PM
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I've flown Singapore's Executive Economy between Singapore and LAX several times. Unfortunately, they're doing away with this service in Sept, and I believe the Executive Economy between Singapore and Newark has already been discontinued.

I love Singapore Air's Executive Economy and I'm really sorry to see it go. The seats are bigger, there's more leg room, huge seat back video screens with on demand programming, great service, a snack bar set up in the galley in between meal service, hot snacks brought through the cabin during the flight, plenty of beverages and a quiet, calm atmosphere so passengers can actually sleep.

It's as comfortable as a person can get flying in economy on a 15-17 hour flight.

I recently looked into flying Premium Economy on EVA - the seats are a bit smaller than Singapore Air's (according to the info I could find online anyway), but I was really tempted.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jul 5th, 2008, 12:00 AM
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I have flown Ba and Virgin "premium economy" and i think a previous poster nailed it. Virgin is like Buisness minus and BA economy +. I personally wouldn't pay for BA WTP again but am going to the US on PE with Virgin this week. A superior product (IMHO)
I do think if the costs is not to prohibative to you its worth paying that extra. (especially if you manage to snag the seats upstairs)
Smeagol is offline  
Jul 6th, 2008, 08:39 AM
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We have used the BA offering twice, and enjoyed the greater space and legroom that it offers.

The price differential between World Traveller and World Traveller plus does vary considerably depending on the flight and how well booked it is. If the extra cost is low, then World Traveller Plus offers good value.
chartley is offline  
Jul 7th, 2008, 07:16 AM
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Thanks, everyone, for your input! It's great to hear some first-person tales of the PE experience. I'm going to keep an eye on pricing -- as travelgourmet describes, the comparisons are key.
Jen_P is offline  
Jul 7th, 2008, 08:56 PM
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With BA's Economy Plus you get 100% of the miles flown while in economy you only get 25% of the miles.

With BA you do get more width and legroom in Economy Plus. Wine is in a glass--not plastic. The 747 with BA is 2-4-2 seating instead of 3-4-3 seating which does make a difference.

Finally, the best deal with BA is to book an Economy Plus seat and use miles to upgrade to Business Class where the seats are totally flat. IMO.
wally34949 is offline  
Jul 7th, 2008, 09:43 PM
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I have not yet had the pleasure, but here's some info:

Momliz is offline  
Jul 7th, 2008, 10:42 PM
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I've paid for to upgrade to WP on BA on a YYZ-LHR overnight route - well worth it to get legroom. I could sleep!. Flying economy from LHR-SYD via SING, the plane had those metal drop down footrests which are absolutely useless for me as my legs are too long. When it is folded up I had the metal bar grinding into my shins. I complained at QC and showed them the gouge and they upgraded me to PE. It was heaven compared to Economy.
Sarvowinner is offline  
Jul 8th, 2008, 10:52 AM
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One thing about (usually paid, but sometimes redemption) WT+ on BA is a higher incidence of "op-ups" (operational upgrades) to business class than from WT- to WT+.

And as others have said, not all premium economy products are the same. We'll see how Qantas' looks when it's in service. At the moment, however, prices on, e.g., BA WT+ in many markets are not that much lower than "I" class business fares, while the product is distinctly inferior.
Gardyloo is offline  
Jul 15th, 2008, 07:38 AM
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We flew Premium Economy LA to Auckland on Air New Zealand several years ago.

The seats were roomier, but the food service was fantastic. Our cabin was in the same space as first class and we were treated the same way.

Great way to travel.

georgewoodie is offline  
Jul 15th, 2008, 08:46 PM
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I also took Air New Zealand's Premium Economy from SFO to Auckland year before last; I had the first row, so we had endless leg room (no under seat space for carryon but a small locker under window) and the full business class was a few feet forward of my seat--they had the nice pod beds, for which the fee when I checked it was $7,000 round trip. (I paid about $800 RT at that time). Service was fine. Though there's less legroom in the regular seats, on my return trip when I was assigned one I was able to trade for the first row.
annw is offline  
Jul 17th, 2008, 11:29 AM
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Three years ago on a flight from SFO to Rome (via Frankfurt) on United, we were somehow put in the "economy plus" section of the plane. I didn't even figure out until a year later later - when we weren't upgraded on another UA flight - that we weren't in regular economy. The seat pitch was noticably better in economy-plus.

scdreamer is offline  
Jul 20th, 2008, 02:53 AM
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Just flew UA's Economy Plus from SIN to NRT and NRT to SFO.

Arrived unscathed, but do not confuse United's Economy Plus with the Asian airlines version of Premium Economy, Executive Economy, etc.

Different animal entirely in my experience.

UA - same seats, same service, same food (in this case it was dire) but about five inches more legroom, which means alot on a 16 hour journey.

Heck of a lot better than coach, and yes, I'd do it again (in fact, I'll be doing it again in about two weeks).
Melnq8 is offline  

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