American Vs Delta Vs United Airlines: Which Premium Economy Class Is Best?


Which American airline Offers The Best Premium Economy class seats; United, Delta, or American Airlines?

Business Class is clearly better than even the best Premium Economy Class, but it is also more expensive. If you do not want to spend a huge amount on your flight, the happy medium of Premium Economy may well be just the ticket. But which American airline should you choose when flying to Asia, Europe, and beyond?

All three airlines offer similar seat width of 19 inches and pitch of 38 inches, which is spacious when compared to the Economy (coach) seats which are a cramped seat width of 17 inches and offer a pitch of 31 inches. This in itself makes premium economy worth the upgrade if you can afford it.

Delta offers a 7 inch recline compared to American’s 6 inch, so Delta is the one to pick if the price is the same.

On all three airlines, you will also get larger monitors with headphones, free drinks including alcohol, free food served on crockery instead of out of plastic boxes, and priority baggage and boarding.

If you have a preference for the Westin Heavenly blanket and pillow (Delta) vs. the Saks Fifth Avenue blanket (United) and pillow vs. Casper Bedding on AA, this may sway your decision, although, at the moment, it is not clear if American is honoring this upgraded blanket.

The bottom line; these 3 products are very comparable, so the biggest differentiator is the price. However, Delta offers 1 extra inch of recline, and with mixed reviews coming through about American’s “not so premium product” (same food and bedding as in Economy), if the two options are the same price, Delta is the one to go for. It will be interesting to see if the United product matches these two or if it is better or worse.

I have outlined the details of each Premium Economy offering below to help in your decision-making.

American Airlines

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

On the ground, customers can check up to two bags free of charge and will be given priority boarding ahead of those seated in the main cabin (economy).

The seats are, however, not great. The recline is minimal (Norwegian Premium Economy is the best for recline), and the thin armrests can be an issue with this seat design as it is still easy to get bumped by your neighbor. 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 honoring the improved bedding.

It is worth noting that the meal tends to be served all at once, so this is not the fine dining experience that you get in Business Class. There have also been reports that the current meal on offer is the same as that served in Economy, so AA needs to up their game in this respect.

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.

Delta Airlines Premium Economy: Delta Premium Select

The facts: 19 inch seat width, 38 inch legroom, 7 inch recline, plus adjustable leg rests and headrests, free drinks (including alcohol), free food. 13.3 inch, high-resolution in-flight entertainment screen & noise-canceling 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 that will be presented with Alessi service ware 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.

The extra inch of recline makes Delta a better choice than American.

United Premium Economy

United is 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 these Premium Economy cabins for the United Economy Plus offering. Economy Plus offers 5 inches more foot room than Economy, but Economy Plus currently has no other advantages over the normal economy seats other than the extra space.

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

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.

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