We’ve all wondered if business class is worth the splurge or if premium economy tickets save you money.
We are all trying to get the best deal with the best quality, but we need to figure out where to start. So we’ve compiled different airlines and their services to see which is right for you.
Let’s begin by clearing some definitions and explaining the different services offered in each class to narrow down your options.
Business class is an elevated ticket option from the premium economy class but is not to be confused with first class. It offers many services that you won’t find in Premium Economy. Think of business class as luxurious comfort and premium economy as practical comfort.
Business class often partners up with membership programs that allow business class passengers to access lounges from different traveling companies to ensure their passengers have business class lounge access throughout the world. The most common alliances are Oneworld, Star Alliance, and SkyTeam.
What is Premium Economy Class?
The usual difference between premium economy and standard economy is expansive legroom and wider seats. However, some airlines offer other services such as priority check-in, gourmet meals, complimentary drinks, noise-reducing earplugs, amenity kits, bedding, headphones, and more.
If you’re looking to compare it with standard economy, read our article on Economy vs Premium Economy.
Differences Between Business Class and Premium Economy
Let’s compare the benefits each offers and where it falls short. Of course, we know that premium economy will be cheaper, but precisely, How much is the difference? And is the upgrade a splurge worth making?
Keep in mind that these features will vary depending on the length of the flight. If the flight is short, the airline will most likely use a small aircraft; however, if it’s a long-distance flight, you will likely experience more of the luxurious aircraft out there.
|Category||Business Class||Premium Economy Class|
|Check-In & Baggage Allowance||No more queueing at the airport. You get priority check-in, boarding, and an extended baggage allowance.||Priority check-in, priority boarding, and an extended baggage allowance.|
|Business lounge||Access to their respective airline’s lounge plus any lounges operated by the airline’s partners worldwide.||Some airlines allow Premium Economy passengers to pay for business class lounge access.|
|Seats||Reclining, angled, lie-flat, fully flat, expansive legroom, and a separate cabin. The standard for all business class is comfortable seats that allow the passenger to sleep well.||More reclining room and broader seats. In addition, there are footrests and an additional storage room. The pitch difference between standard and premium economy tickets is an extra 5 -7 inches (12.7-17.8 cm) in legroom.|
|Ticket prices||Business Class prices||Premium economy tickets are 65% less than business class tickets.|
|Inflight foods and drinks||Expect an array of complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks menu and gourmet meals or Michelin chef menus designed by Michelin chefs, served in delicate porcelain, hand-delivered to your seat||Discover a menu of complimentary high-quality meals, snacks, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Unfortunately, not all alcoholic drinks are complimentary on all flights.|
|Amenities||Toiletry kits and bedding sets||Some airlines add toiletry kits and bedding sets for their passengers.|
|Entertainment||Access to their entertainment collection, with the latest movies, tv shows, audiobooks, podcasts, and Wi-Fi||Access to their entertainment collection, with the latest movies, tv shows, audiobooks, podcasts, and Wi-Fi|
About Airline’s Lounge
Business class passenger automatically gets lounge access while premium economy passengers might or might not. Here are what you can expect from a lounge:
- Each airline has a different name for its business class lounge. They usually showcase their country of origin through their designs, services, and features. Take Qatar Airways, for example; it boats in luxury and wealth with golf practice areas and opulence in every corner. At the same time, the Air France lounge collaborates with Michelin masterminds or Lufthansa encasing the “German Way” with their practicality and no-nonsense design.
- Lounge rooms can have from hot and cold buffets to à la carte restaurants with fully functioning kitchens. It’s normal to find complimentary snack bars, baked goods, charcuterie, crudités boards, self-serve beverage stations, and a well-stocked bar.
- In addition, you can lounge in their sectioned resting areas, workstations, quiet areas, children’s game rooms, smoking areas, spas, massage centers, showers, meeting rooms, Wi-Fi, charging stations, and more.
- Dedicated staff – At the lounges or inflight the airline staff dedicates to meeting your flight needs, keeping you safe, and helping you solve any travel-related issue that might arise while onboard. However, it’s important to remind you are responsible for all your documentation. While staff can provide support, they can’t help with issues like expired passports, missing visas, etc.
It depends on the airline, but most of the time you can upgrade your ticket from premium economy to business class upon check-in. Some airlines allow premium economy passengers to purchase entrance to the business class lounges.
According to Skytrax Worlds Airlines Awards, Qatar Airways was the world’s best business class airline of 2022.
According to Skytrax Worlds Airlines Awards, Virgin Atlantic was the world’s best premium economy class airline of 2022.
Business class is worth it if you like to travel comfortably and can afford it. In addition, business class is worth it if you value your personal space, need extra space to feel comfortable, and don’t like to wait in line.
Premium economy is worth the splurge if you value comfort and personal space.
Now let’s cover the specific features of some airlines and what the customer experience is like.
Just as we analyzed the differences between premium economy and business class, let’s talk about what differentiates each airline from the rest.
The Tata group takeover in 2024 is expected to provide a revamped experience for Air India passengers. As of now, Air India leaves a lot to desire in terms of service, amenities, maintenance, and organization. Unfortunately, they don’t measure up to the caliber expected for Business Class ticket holders.
Passengers argue the best thing about the airline is the food. ‘Once you begin your meal, you can forget the airline’s shortcomings’ is their mantra. Needless to say, taste in food is fairly subjective matter.
The maintenance of the airline’s interior and the red and beige colors give it a retro look but also age the airline significantly. The famous Maharajah is the airline’s symbol, and with the Tata group takeover, we are hopeful that the cheerful character will stay while the other services come back improved and up to par.
Copa Airlines is recognized for being a solid choice. They are reliable, business-minded, and have a vast network of flight routes across the Americas.
Copa Airlines is not luxurious or boasting designer collaborations, but they make it up in practicality and comfort. However, for the amount of money you pay, the service feels like a premium economy in a luxurious airline.
British Airways Airport lounges for Club World and Club Europe passengers gloat on excellent amenities. The issue is that there are only a few British Airways lounges around, so it partners with Oneworld to give their passengers access to business class lounges across the globe.
Business class is different for short and long-haul flights, but the level of comfort, service, and entertainment carries out throughout the brand. In this, British Airways, with its white and blue shades, brings ease, comfort, and reliability that flow through its brand.
Business class with Air France is like immersing yourself in French culture and is what distinguishes Air France from other airlines. The thought behind the dishware, the culinary masterminds behind menus, the luxury of the cabins, and the name-brand amenity kits round up to a delightful flight experience.
Luxury and indulgence translate into business class service, from when you check-in to when you exit the airline. In addition, SkyTeam members have access to business class lounges outside of Air France.
Qatar Airways is known as a 5-star airline, according to Skytrax. Most airlines will come up short if we measure them to Qatar Airways’ business class experience. Qatar Airways sets the standard for a luxurious, comfortable, outstanding business class flying experience.
The Qsuite and the Business Class Suite are leading in services, amenities, entertainment, comfort, and luxury designed for passenger satisfaction. Passengers wish they could only extend their flights to make the experience last longer; that is how good the service is. Qatar Airways is partnered with Oneworld, which means their passengers have access to lounges worldwide.
Emirates business class leads the standard on business class expectations. However, Emirates isn’t part of any flying alliance.
It is designed for flyers looking for comfort, first-rate service, practicality, and pampering. Some services that make Emirates leaders in their industries are chauffeur pick-up, an impressive business-class lounge with incredible decor, comfortable seats, renowned brand amenity kits, outstanding service, and a mouthwatering menu.
American Airlines owns the Flagship Lounges for business class passengers. While you can find them in most international airports, they partnered with Oneworld to give their passenger lounge access anywhere in the world.
American Airlines puts the business flyers’ needs in perspective and successfully reaches out to satisfy them. With lie-flat seats, direct aisle access, plenty of storage, digital entertainment, a quality inflight menu, and a good array of drinks. The one thing that passengers have brought up is the inconsistency in the staff service, which we all know can sour an experience pretty fast.
United Airlines’ business class provides consistency, reliability, and comfort in its services. The moment you step into the Polaris lounge, you experience consistency in the service to the moment you depart from the airline. Discover their à la carte dining, self-serve snacks, cold food and drinks, sleep suites, shower areas, children’s section amenities, workspace, and comfortable waiting rooms with ample entertainment.
All this luxury seeps into the flight experience with renowned brand amenity kits, luxurious bedding, comfortable flat beds, a quality inflight menu, a solid drink list, and committed service. In addition, United Airlines has partnered with Star Alliance to provide their business class members worldwide lounge access. Another thing to love about United Airlines is its commitment to sustainability and its pledge to become green by 2050.
Business class passengers experience the famous “German precision”—consistent excellence in services, technology, amenities, and procedures on the ground or the flight.
Lufthansa is a sturdy option for business class passengers. While it does not boast of luxury, it boasts of quiet elegance and practicality, which is why many passengers are loyal to the airline. In addition, Lufthansa is expanding its fleet with fuel-efficient long-haul aircraft that will be the first on its fleet to reduce CO2 emissions by 30%.
Turkish Airlines’ business class lounges are made to impress; their business class lounges are state of the art that exudes luxury and comfort. You could say that flying with Turkish Airlines means the highest quality across the board.
The business class lounge has everything you expected from a high-ranking airline and more, from golf simulators, showers, nap cabins, à la carte dining, and plenty of child-friendly activities.
Inflight, you can expect personalized services and comfortable seats that can become workstations, entertainment areas, or flatbeds, menus designed by world-renowned chefs, and a wide array of complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, brand amenity kits, and more.
Now let’s talk about some airlines’ specific features, leading traits, and customer experience. First, it’s important to remark that the value of premium economy tickets is extra space all around—the seat, the storage, and the footrest.
You have access to a special check-in line, extra checked baggage allowance, meal upgrade, a small amenity kit, a separate section from the regular economy, more space, and a free bag at the front of the plane or in front of standard economy. You can also use your miles to upgrade from economy to premium economy.
If you’re flying Lufthansa, chances are it’s an international trip with layovers where you might need your checked bags. Here are our tips on getting your luggage during a layover should you need one.
The perks of flying premium economy on British Airways are the fast pass on check-in and priority boarding. The inflight benefits are extra leg room, seat width, room for reclining, a blanket, noise-reducing headphones, and a tv touchscreen.
You can also earn extra miles on your flight. In addition, you can upgrade your ticket to business class upon check-in. British Airways has standard premium economy services that are consistent, functional, and enjoyable.
Start your flight with a speedy check-in, security, and boarding at the airport, and check your bags first when you land. Unfortunately, American Airlines doesn’t do upgrades from economy to premium economy.
You get wider seats with expandable features like footrests and headrests, monitors, complimentary personal on-demand entertainment with larger monitors and noise-reducing headphones, Wi-Fi access, power outlets, and USB ports. In addition, American Airlines enhances your experience with Chef-inspired meals with complimentary beer, wine, spirits, and travel essentials from Shinola and D.S. & Durga and pillow and blanket created by sleep technology company Casper exclusively for American Airlines.
Premium Economy in United Airlines is called United Premium PlusSM or United Premium. United Airlines is keeping up with the competitors on premium economy tickets. The premium economy seats are precisely what you need for your trip; extra space, thoughtful design, and bonus comfort.
You can count on fast check-in at United’s Premier Access counters, priority security checking and luggage handling, and two free checked bags.
You will receive brand-renowned pillows, blankets, bedding, and an amenity kit. In addition, your seats have footrests, are wider, and recline farther. With power outlets, USB charging stations, complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, hot gourmet meals, and snacks, you are guaranteed to have a good flight and come back for more.
One thing to note is if you’re not sure yet about your departure date, United provides “FareLock” feature, which is one of the simplest ways to reserve a flight without paying.
It feels business class, but its premium economy with the highest standards. As a result, Singapore Airlines ranked 2nd Best Premium Economy Class Airline of 2022 in the world. Singapore Airlines leads the standards for premium economy.
The seats are in an exclusive, spacious cabin, with wide seats that can recline far back and leg rest. Their quality service is consistent throughout all the flying classes. If you can’t afford business class, premium economy is well worth the splurge, especially on long flights.
Air Canada offers a reliable and consistent service across the board that is worth the extra charge for premium economy. First and foremost, their comfortable 38 in (96.5 cm) legroom, footrest, wide seat, adjustable headrest, comfy pillow, and blanket make it worth the splurge.
An entertainment system with on-demand entertainment on a touchscreen T.V., headset, or earbuds. USB port for charging, in-seat power charging station at every seat, Ambient mood lighting, an individual reading light, and ambient mood lighting, an individual reading light, and a CleanCare+ kit containing a mask, hand sanitizer, and antiseptic wipes.
Virgin Atlantic was awarded #1 place on the Best Premium Economy Airlines of 2022 by Skytrax. They set the standard for premium economy flying.
Some of their award-winning features are a wide seat pitch of up to 38 inches (96.5 cm), an extra-large leather seat, upgradeable with Virgin Points, one carry-on plus two checked bags, and priority baggage delivery. What they are doing extra is the bubbly drink upon boarding, the meal set up in china, Wi-Fi accessible upon purchase, comprehensive entertainment options, an amenity kit, and outstanding personal service.
You’ll get SkyPriority for priority access. You can also check in, choose your seat, check two baggage items, and enjoy the business class lounges for a fee. The Premium Economy cabin is located at the front of the economy seats and allows you to travel in perfect serenity: the cabin is separated by a divider on both sides and contains a limited number of seats.
The seats are wide and equipped with multiple storage areas, a headrest, a footrest, and a leg rest. Enjoy gourmet meals and an impressive collection of wines and drinks. In addition, a personal touchscreen, noise-reducing headphones, an adjustable reading lamp, power charging stations, a USB port, a sanitary and comfort kit, pillow, blanket, and of course, a flying crew that cares about your comfort.
This airline distinguishes itself from its genuinely friendly staff in genuine Kiwi hospitality. Begin your premium economy experience with free seat select options, a bag allowance of two carry-ons and two checked bags, premium check-in, priority boarding, and an amenity kit waiting for you at your seat.
Discover their premium economy cabin consisting of leather armchairs and ample personal space. In addition, inflight entertainment, a tv touchscreen, noise-reducing headset, complimentary traditional New Zealand dishes, and well-crafted alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink options from a robust menu and higher Airpoints Dollars™ and Status Points earn rate.
Premium economy is called Premium Select in Delta Airlines. In this class they offer their passengers an enriched dining experience, a relaxing atmosphere with premium amenities, more space to stretch, work, relax and enjoy, and travel comfortably to destinations with all types of climates.
Their revamped services include gourmet menus with locally sourced ingredients, environmentally friendly tableware, wide seats that can recline far back, memory-foam pillows, noise-reducing headphones, and blankets made from recycled materials. In addition, amenity kits were designed by Someone Somewhere artisan from their unique partnership and toiletries from the Grown Alchemist. Delta is raising the bar on partnering with causes and not brands that not only add to their
Premium economy is best for: travelers on long-haul flights that are okay with splurging on comfort to travel comfortably.
Business class is best for: travelers that want to experience comfort and luxury and have the means to splurge on the experience.
Ultimately, it all depends on what you can afford, what you think is worth spending on, and what experiences are worth the splurge.
Now that you know the difference, it’s time to check the cost of each class on your planned trip. Our recommendation is to check on these 6 best flight booking sites first.