Transport : Airlines

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

Delta offers 7″ recline compared to American’s 6″ 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 honouring this upgraded blanket.

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″ 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 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 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.

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 need 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″ seat width, 38″ leg room, 7” recline, plus adjustable leg rests and headrests, free drinks (including alcohol), 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.

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

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

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).

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.