Are you planning on flying to visit family and friends or taking a vacation? You will most likely need to fly to get where you’re going. Depending on which airline and destination you choose, you will have plenty of options when it comes to seat and class choices.
Most airlines offer different seating classes, like first class, business, premium economy, and economy. The average traveler will opt for premium economy or economy as they are the most affordable seats, but what is the difference between them? And are premium economy seats even worth it?
This article will explain the difference between premium economy and economy and which class of seating is best for you.
Economy class is the lowest or most affordable class of seats you can buy on any flight. All flights offer economy-class tickets and are widely available for short or long-haul flights. These seats will get you where you’re going but will come with a few frills, depending on which airline you fly with.
Most airlines will provide snacks, water, and meals for economy, depending on the length of travel. Depending on your destination, these seats usually include a cabin bag and a checked bag. If you are flying with an ultra-low-cost carrier or budget airline, check the airline’s website for more information about food on board and baggage allowance.
If you’re traveling in Economy, you won’t have perks such as priority check-in so make sure you know the essentials. We compiled 38 most asked questions about Airport check in to help you for just that.
Airlines sometimes offer Premium economy class as a “step up” from the traditional economy class and will usually include perks like comfier seats, more legroom, priority check-in, and more.
Each airline’s definition of premium economy is different. Some airlines also use different names to refer to a premium economy ticket. They can use words such as economy flex, plus, privilege, or comfort plus. It is best to check with the airline before purchasing a ticket.
The difference between premium economy and economy class can vary based on which airline you choose to fly with. For most airlines, the difference is minimal. Usually premium economy comes with perks and add-ons that regular economy fliers would have to pay extra for, like legroom, priority check-in, priority boarding, and more.
Depending on your travel needs, it may or may not be worth purchasing a premium economy ticket. Travelers looking to save money will find that premium economy isn’t worth the higher price tag. In contrast, travelers with different physical needs or ailments might find that premium economy is worth it.
For example, taller travelers might benefit from the extra legroom, or middle age travelers or families with older kids might enjoy the priority boarding and spare time to get settled.
According to the World Airline Awards, Emirates is the best airline to fly in economy class. The seats are roomy and comfortable, with 32–34 inches (81-86 cm) of legroom.
Each economy passenger gets an amenity kit with socks, eye masks, ear plugs, a toothbrush/toothpaste, a blanket, and a pillow. They have a wide variety of meals on board that past customers reported being tasty and filling. There is no shortage of in-flight entertainment on board. You can watch over 4 thousand channels, listen to music, or send emails.
According to the World Airline Awards, Virgin Atlantic has the best premium economy class.
Onboard a premium economy flight with Virgin Atlantic, you can expect to choose your seat for free and check in at the airport with a dedicated premium economy check-in line. Before joining a massive line for security, check with the flight attendant if that airport offers a priority security lane for premium economy ticket holders.
Premium economy seats are configured in a 2-4-2 configuration and are roomier than regular economy seats. The seats are wider with 38 inches (96 cm) of legroom. Each passenger has their own universal charging port and receives a goody bag with an eye mask, earplugs, a sustainable pen, a toothbrush/toothpaste, blanket, a pillow, and headphones.
Premium economy passengers also have two dedicated washrooms, a wide variety of delicious meals, and a welcome drink after take-off.
Economy class passengers typically get lounge access if they hold a credit card that allows them lounge access with certain airlines. However, the narrative is changing around airport lounges. They aren’t just for business class passengers! New pay-per-use lounges have popped up at many popular international airports worldwide. Any class ticket holder can use them for a fee.
Most airlines do not include lounge access when purchasing a premium economy ticket, but if you hold a frequent flier card, have access with a credit card, or purchase a pass, you can still use the lounge.
If you are having a long layover between flights, it might be worth it to grab a nearby hotel or explore the city instead of purchasing lounge access, depending on your visa status and how long you have for a layover. Here’s how to get your luggage during a layover, just in case you need to freshen up along the journey.
There are plenty of reasons to use airport lounges; maybe you would like to escape the noise and crowds or need a good space to get some work done. Either way, lounges are a great option to improve flying experience. Here are some lounge perks to consider:
- Free food and drink, including alcohol
- Some lounges have dedicated areas for children to play
- Napping areas
- Quiet work areas
- Comfier chairs
If you don’t think these perks are worth the money, then by all means skip them.
According to USA Today (10 best), JetBlue has the most comfortable seats for an economy-class ticket. These seats are cushy, some of the widest seats available on domestic flights, and better than average legroom.
Up to this point in the article, if you already decided on premium economy, you might also be interested to check our article about Premium Economy vs Business Class.
Although the seats in economy on Qatar airways are smaller, they offer lots of legroom and a seamless check-in experience. They offer a goodie bag for all fliers regardless of ticket class, including headphones, ear plugs, lip balm, a sleep mask, and a toothbrush/toothpaste. Most customers report the food to be delicious and filling.
Emirates economy seats are comfortable and allow some wiggle room compared to other airlines. All economy passengers receive comfort items and a goody bag and have free access to inflight meals and entertainment.
Aboard Lufthansa, economy passengers have some of the most legroom (on long-haul flights), about 40 cm (15 inches)! They also have plenty of onboard entertainment and lots of fresh and delicious meal options.
How is premium economy class on Lufthansa?
Premium economy onboard Lufthansa gets you 50% more space than economy tickets, two free bags, and a welcome drink. You have a wide variety of menu options served to you on fine china.
How is premium economy class on British Airways?
Premium economy with British Airways has larger, comfier seats with 38 inches (96 cm) of legroom compared to the 31 inches (78 cm) in economy. The large armrest in the middle ensures there’s no war over armrest. You get two free meals and a complimentary bar service with alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks. Premium economy travelers also get an amenity kit, priority boarding, extra baggage, and universal power outlets.
How is premium economy class on American Airlines?
American Airlines premium economy offers speedier check-in, security, boarding, and extra baggage allowance. Winder seats ensure a comfy ride, and chef-inspired meals come with complimentary beer and wine. Travelers receive a nice brand-name amenity kit and free entertainment on the flight.
How is premium economy class on United Airlines?
United Airlines offers two levels of premium economy: Premium Plus and Premium Economy. Premium Plus gets you more legroom, comfier seats, upgraded amenities, and upgraded dining service.
Premium economy on Singapore Airlines offers a calf rest and footrest on their upgraded cushioned seats. They also have over 1,800 free entertainment options and an upgraded service. You can choose your chef-inspired meal up to eight days before your flight.
Air Canada’s premium economy class has comfy seats that recline more than the standard economy seat and have 38 inches of leg room to stretch out. They also offer complimentary headphones and hundreds of entertainment options. Don’t worry about baggage. Premium economy gets you two free checked bags and priority boarding, check-in, and baggage handling. Enjoy a chef-inspired meal and complimentary beverages or wine.
Virgin Atlantic’s premium economy class has dedicated check-in and bag drop, two checked bags, extra legroom, comfy seats, and a choose-your-own snack wall that is refilled throughout the flight. Overnight flight guests get an amenity kit in a smart wallet. Three main course options come with a complimentary glass of champagne. They have plenty of entertainment options and a very reasonably priced wifi package.
Premium Economy class on Air France gets you comfy seats with an adjustable headrest and footrest, more legroom, and a larger armrest. They offer noise-reducing headsets to go with their entertainment choices. Guests are given a sanitary package and can enjoy world-class meals with a complimentary glass of champagne and a self-serve treat afterward.
Premium economy on Air New Zealand is available on all long-haul flights. It offers comfy leather armchairs, an amenity kit, complimentary meals and drinks, premium check-in, and two free checked bags.
Depending on your travel style and budget, Premium Economy tickets can be worth it when traveling with some airlines.
Choose premium economy if you are catching a long-haul flight or a flight you know can be crowded. Taller people will enjoy the larger seats and extra legroom that premium economy offers. A premium economy might be an excellent introduction if you want to travel in style but without the first-class ticket price.
Choose regular economy seats if the airline you are flying with doesn’t offer great premium perks. Some airlines provide better services for a premium economy ticket than others. Regular economy tickets are also great if you are flying on a short flight, or are traveling on a strict budget.
Regardless of the class, the surefire way to save on cost is to get a good deal on your flight ticket. Here’s our recommendation on how to find cheap flights to help you with that. Or if you’re not sure about the date yet, here are a few tricks to book a flight without paying (usually used for visa application purposes but works all the same).