Which is the best Premium Economy Transatlantic Airline? British Airways or Virgin Atlantic? Interestingly there is a third airline worth considering. Norwegian Airlines has also started to dominate on this route with new planes and an excellent Premium Economy offering that compares favourably to these two British Carriers. You can see where I rank each Premium Economy seat in my article about the top 10 best Premium Economy Airlines in the world.
In order of preference, Norwegian airlines beats the socks off both British Airways and Virgin Premium Economy seats with much, much better recline. But you can’t collect Norwegian miles or Upgrade Vouchers with airline credit cards and supermarket shoping like you can on Virgin or British Airways. When comparing British Airways Vs Virgin in Premium Economy, Virgin tends to have wider seats so has the edge although the food British Airways World Traveller Plus has the edge over that in Virgin. The food on Norwegian is also less sophisticated than either British Airways or Virgin with no napkins so proper cutlery and crockery, although the Norwegian seats are the best.
You can book a Premium Economy seat on British Airways Avios or Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles, which you can earn with American Express credit cards. 1 Membership Rewards point = 1 Virgin Flying Club mile or 1 Avios and the your free card option for earning miles is the Amex Gold card (if you are UK based).
If you are US based, you can earn free flights by taking out just one (free) credit card. Read more in our easy guide.
I have compared these three airlines in detail below.
Review: Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy
The facts: 21″ seat width, 38″ leg room, free drinks, free food.
We like: Priority boarding, wide reclining chairs with footrest, the enhanced menu offering served on china with stainless steel cutlery, the snack bar on the new 787 aircraft with free snacks and drinks that you can help yourself to the fact you can book your seat on Virgin Flying Club miles which you can collect with the free Amex Gold card.
We don’t like: The very average leg room.
You can read all my Virgin Premium Economy flight reviews in this collated guide.
Review: British Airways World Traveller Plus
The facts: 18.5″ seat width, 38″ leg room, free drinks, free food.
We like: Jolly British Airways Biggles pilots, the menu (three-course) with options from the business class menu served on china with linen napkins and that it is easy to collect Avios at Tesco or with the Lloyds Avios credit card.
We don’t like: The lack of priority boarding, the thin seats at 18.5″ which are not very comfortable and the very average leg room.
We have reviewed British Airways World Traveller Plus.
Review: Norwegian Airlines Premium Economy
The facts: 19″ seat width, 46″ leg room, free drinks, free food.
We like: Priority boarding, reclining seats with lots of leg room, new fleet of lovely long-haul Dreamliners, complimentary pre-flight access to the No1 Lounge in Gatwick and other airports, prices (from £649 one way from London to New York) and Norwegian Rewards cashpoints loyalty program. A PremiumFlex seat costing around £1,200 plus taxes will earn 20% of this price in cashpoints which means receiving a credit towards future flights of £246.
We don’t like: The limited (but expanding) route options – Currently long haul is offered on flights to/from U.S., Thailand, Singapore and Caribbean.
We have reviewed Premium Economy on Norwegian Airlines.
The American airline companies are new to the Premium Economy game and will be launching their versions within the year. American Airlines has already started selling AA Premium Economy seats on its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.
Delta Air Lines already offers Comfort Plus with extra leg room but will be launching a complete Premium Economy cabin called Delta Premium Select on long-haul aircraft later in 2017. Expect 38 inches of pitch, up to 19 inches of width and up to seven inches of recline with adjustable leg rests and head rests. They will also be including a Westin Heavenly® In-Flight Blanket with pillow and a TUMI amenity kit featuring Malin+Goetz Travel Essentials. A fresh, seasonal menu will be presented with Alessi service ware designed exclusively for Delta. There will also be an up to 13.3-inch, high-resolution in-flight entertainment screen, noise-cancelling headphones and in-seat power ports along with Sky Priority service, which includes faster check-in, accelerated security, priority boarding and expedited baggage service will also be included.
United currently offers Economy Plus with a 37-inch seat pitch, five inches more than Economy, but this currently has no other advantages over the normal economy seats.
British Airways and Virgin also feature in my top top 10 best airlines for longhaul Business Class and you can read my British Airways Premium Economy, BA Business Class and First Class flight reviews as well as all of my Virgin Atlantic flight reviews.
If you are looking to to save money on your next First, Business and Premium Economy flight booking or to book luxury hotels, don’t forget to contact our Luxury Travel Concierge for complimentary upgrades, discounts, free breakfasts and more.