When flying on American Airlines, is it worth paying to upgrade to Premium Economy from Coach seats on long-haul flights?
Coach vs. Premium Economy: Price
If the price is your biggest factor when making the decision on which class to fly in, you should probably choose to fly Economy. After all, the entire plane will get to its destination, whichever class you are sitting in.
Having said that, particularly for overnight flights, being stuffed in a sardine-tin, with little space to move and next-to-no recline, means that sleep is difficult. Certainly, when I have flown in Coach, if I do manage to nod off, the fact that my head then droops to one side because of the lack of seat recline means that I almost always wake myself up.
The result is that you can feel pretty grotty after a Coach class flight when you get to your destination. This means that you are potentially ruining the first day of your trip because you have not spent the extra on upgrading your flight.
So even if price IS your biggest factor, Premium Economy can mean that you avoid wasting a day of your holiday, which may ultimately be worth more than the price difference.
Coach vs. Premium Economy: Check-in
Priority gives you the fastest route through most airport-congested areas, so you do get benefits from booking Premium Economy, even before you board.
American Airlines say: “Look for “priority” signs when you check-in at the American Airlines counter, go through security, and at the gate. For faster boarding, proceed when “Priority” is called” as you will have “Priority Access” on your boarding pass. It is worth noting that not all airlines offer priority check-in and boarding with Premium Economy, but currently, American Airlines does.
Unless you’re flying on a Basic Economy fare, you can also buy Priority for your trip on American marketed and operated flights at check-in on aa.com or at the check-in at an airport kiosk or through Reservations before departure.
Economy vs. Premium Economy: Baggage
You get 2 hold suitcases when traveling in Premium Economy, which is a big bonus.
Economy vs. Premium Economy: Lounges
When flying in Premium Economy, you do not get access to any lounges (unless you have premium airline status).
Economy vs. Premium Economy: Space
While you’ll find varying Business Class products on American Airlines’ aircraft, but the carrier is pretty consistent with its Premium Economy seating.
When flying in the Premium Economy seat, you get a wider seat (19 inches compared to 17 inches in Coach) with additional pitch (38 inches). For me, the extra elbow room in the Premium Economy seats enables me to work more comfortably on my laptop. The legroom gives you more space to move about, and the extendable foot and headrests make the journey more pleasant.
There is also a useful universal power outlet and USB between the seats.
The extra recline also enables me to sleep for a short period, a crucial reason to choose to fly Premium Economy, although the recline is not amazing and could not be compared to a flatbed seat.
Economy vs. Premium Economy: Food & Drink
A big bonus traveling on AA in Premium Economy is that you get a “Chef-inspired meal with free beer, wine, and spirits”.
You also usually get a welcome drink and snack and another round of drinks with the meal. Of course, the onboard service will vary depending on the time of departure and flight duration, but the food is better than that in Coach and is served on actual china and not in plastic containers.
Depending on the length of the flight, if it is overnight, you will probably get breakfast served. On shorter flights, you just get a drink and something like a panini sandwich (or similar).
The food is an improvement on Coach, but nothing spectacular.
You will also get a complimentary amenity kit and a pillow and blanket created alongside sleep technology company Casper exclusively for AA.
Economy vs. Premium Economy: Conclusion
I would say that the American Airlines Premium Economy is a good product and worth paying the extra if you can afford it and particularly if you are big or tall, which makes the equivalent Coach experience pretty miserable.
Fnd out which has the best Premium Economy; American, Delta or United Airlines.
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