Transport : Airlines

Although the best Business Class in the sky is undoubtedly better than the Best Premium Economy Class in the sky, for those of us who don’t have unlimited budgets, Premium Economy can offer a happy medium, with enough comfort to make long-haul travel bearable, without having to spend your life savings on your next flight.

Our Travel Auctions

Which airlines have Premium Economy Class seats?

I outline which airlines offer long-haul Premium Economy below. These airlines offer a great way of travelling to Europe or Asia or America, escaping the sardine can of Economy Class. Of note, recently all the American Airlines have started rolling out a Premium Economy cabin so these airlines are also worth considering when choosing to travel in Premium Economy.

Just like in my top 10 best Business Class airlines, not all Premium Economy offerings are the same.

Top of my list comes Norwegian Airlines. Billed as 1980’s Business Class, the seats on Norwegian offer significantly more leg room than any other Premium Economy with 46″. With a modern fleet and excellent prices.

Many other airlines offer decent and comparable Premium Economy. In my overview, I try and compare the seat width, leg room, food and other offerings that you will experience in Premium Economy on each airline. It should help you choose which airline is the best when flying transatlantic, to Europe or to Asia.

If you want to pick up a travel bargain, you should read our 7 sensational secrets that ALL travellers should know (but probably don’t).

Norwegian Airlines Premium Economy

The facts: 19″ seat width, 46″ leg room, free drinks, free food, limited inflight entertainment on seat back. This is less impressive than the entertainment offered on other airlines.
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 from Europe to America and back along with Europe to Thailand, Singapore and Caribbean.
We have reviewed Premium Economy on Norwegian Airlines.

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 at Waitrose and earn via their credit card.
We don’t like: The very average leg room.

Air New Zealand

The facts: 19.3″ seat width, 42″ leg room, free drinks, free food.
We like: Separate check-in, the look of the leather Spaceseat and the decent recline, the menu designed with chefs, Peter Gordon and Michael Meredith and complemented by premium New Zealand wines, amenity kit with Antipodes skincare pawpaw and with an avocado lip balm; A better amenity kit than most other airlines in Premium Economy.
We don’t like unimpressive leg room.

American Airlines

The facts: 19″ seat width, 38″ of pitch, 6″ recline, larger touchscreen monitors, noise-reducing headphones, AC power outlets and USB ports, an enhanced dining experience, with a supposedly upgraded meal options and complimentary spirits, beer and wine, along with soft drinks.

On the ground, customers will also be able to check up to two bags free of charge and will be given priority boarding ahead of those seated in the main cabin (economy).
American Airlines has already started selling AA Premium Economy seats on its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and will roll them out on their B777, B787-8 & A330 planes.

The seats are however not great. The recline is minimal and the thin armrests can be an issue with this seat design as it is still easy to get bumped by your neighbour. The blanket and pillow which flyers have recently experienced on AA have been a half-pillow and a thin blanket, same as in Economy, so it is not clear whether the airline is honouring the improved bedding.

Delta Airlines Premium Economy: Delta Premium Select

The facts: 19″ seat width, 38″ leg room, 7” recline, plus adjustable leg rests and headrests, free drinks, free food. 13.3-inch, high-resolution in-flight entertainment screen & noise cancelling headphones.
We like: Westin Heavenly® In-Flight Blanket with a pillow and a TUMI amenity kit featuring Malin+Goetz Travel Essentials.
The Delta Premium Economy food will be a fresh, seasonal menu will be presented with Alessi serviceware designed exclusively for Delta. There will also be Sky Priority service for Premium Economy passengers, which includes faster check-in, accelerated security, priority boarding and expedited baggage service.

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.

Qantas Premium Economy

The facts: 19.5″ seat width, 38-42″ leg room, free drinks, free food.
We like: Priority check-in and boarding, decent seat width and pitch, the menu inspired by leading Australian restaurateur Neil Perry, all served on Marc Newson-designed tableware. Food being served on porcelain tableware, 130 degree chair recline.

Cathay Pacific Premium Economy

The facts: 19.5″ seat width, 38″ leg room, free drinks, free food.
We like: Priority boarding, tasty food.
We don’t like: The very average leg room.
We have reviewed Cathay Pacific Premium Economy.

Singapore Airlines Premium Economy

The facts: 18.5-19.5″ seat width, 38″ leg room, free drinks, free food.
We like: Priority boarding and checkin, eight-inch recline with there is a calf and foot rest, and headrest and wings.
We don’t like: The very average leg room.

Air France – KLM Premium Economy

The facts: 19″ seat width, 38-40″ leg room, free drinks, free food.
We like: That meals are presented in eco-designed tableware created by the Catalan designer Eugeni Quitllet, self-service buffet on longer flights, SkyPriority which is priority from check-in, security fast-track and boarding at selected airports.
We don’t like: The very average leg room.

Lufthansa Premium Economy

The facts: 18″-19″ seat width, 38″ leg room, free drinks, free food.
We like: Food being served on porcelain tableware, 130 degree chair recline.
We don’t like: Average seat size and leg room.

Austrian Airlines Premium Economy

The facts: 18-19″ seat width, 38″ leg room, 12-inch screens, free drinks, free food, amenity kit, check-in baggage allowance of two 23kg bags per person.
We like: Austrian Airlines tasty food which, like Lufthansa, will be served on porcelain tableware. Seats will have 130 degree recline.
The first Austrian Airlines flight offering Premium Economy will fly in March 2018. Austrian is one of the best airlines in the world for food, so this Premium Economy offering should offer excellent food.
The Austrian Premium Economy will be fitted to it’s Boeing 767-300ER (24 seats in PE cabin) and B777-200ER (18 seats in PE cabin) long-haul planes with 11 of its aircraft planned to go live with the cabin layout which includes Premium Economy.

ANA Premium Economy

The facts: 19.3″ seat width, 38″ leg room, free drinks, free food.
We like: Priority check-in and luggage handling, Premium travellers can also use Star Alliance partners’ Business Class Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 2 and the ANA Lounge at Tokyo Haneda Airport and the complimentary slippers.
We don’t like: Premium Economy meals are the same as in economy but with Business Class desserts.

United Premium Economy

United are introducing a premium economy cabin, called Premium Plus. The new United Premium Economy cabin will fly later in 2018. I would expect a similar product to that offered by American Airlines and Delta.
Expect: more space, china dinnerware, free alcoholic drinks, a basic amenity kit and a Saks Fifth Avenue blanket and pillow.

Do not mistake the Premium Economy cabins for the United Economy Plus offering. Economy Plus offers five inches more foot room than economy, but this currently has no other advantages over the normal economy seats.

China Airlines also offers a Premium Economy seat on it’s A350 planes which is worth considering.

If you are planning to book a flight, it is worth reading our 10 tips to find cheap long-haul business class flights. Don’t book through the airline’s website direct, our flight experts will usually quote you cheaper for Premium Economy, Business and First Class long-haul flights.