Qantas Economy Vs Premium Economy: Is It Worth Upgrading?


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When flying on Qantas Airlines, is it worth paying to upgrade to Premium Economy from Economy seats on long-haul flights?

Qantas Airlines is one of the best Premium Economy airlines in the world, with exclusive and spacious cabins. Seats are wider with a generous recline. Legroom is increased, and you also have your own adjustable footrests.

1. Economy vs. Premium Economy: Price

If the price is your biggest factor when deciding 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 Economy if I do manage to nod off, the fact that my head then drops 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 an Economy 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 the 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. Premium Economy is also significantly cheaper than flying in Business Class, usually 65% less expensive than a business class fare.

How much extra is Premium Economy on Qantas? Premium Economy is typically 30%-90% more expensive than flying in Economy. Expect to pay up to double the price to fly in Premium Economy.

For a better deal on Business Class flights or luxury hotels, contact our luxury travel concierge for a free quote. We offer free upgrades, free breakfasts, and free perks at hotels, including Four Seasons, Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, InterContinental, and many more.

2. Economy vs. Premium Economy: Loyalty Program

In terms of loyalty programs, Qantas operates Qantas Points, their Frequent Flyer loyalty program. It is a fairly good frequent flyer scheme. Obviously, you get more miles if you fly in Premium Economy because you are spending more money.

3. Economy vs. Premium Economy: Check-in & Hold Baggage

From dedicated check-in to priority boarding, enjoy priority treatment throughout your journey if you are flying in Premium Economy, which is a major advantage over flying Economy.

You get 40kg of hold luggage when traveling in Premium Economy compared to 30kg, which is a big bonus.

4. Economy vs. Premium Economy: Lounges

Qantas offers excellent lounges. As with most airlines, lounge access isn’t included with a Qantas Premium Economy ticket, although Qantas Club and American Airlines Admirals Club members plus Gold frequent flyers and other Oneworld Sapphire cardholders do have access to the Qantas International Business Class lounges when flying Qantas.

You can also use your Priority Pass or pay to access to airport lounges, but they won’t necessarily be the same Qantas Airlines lounges that Business Class passengers access. There is no advantage to flying Premium Economy in this respect as neither Economy or Premium Economy passengers get access to the excellent Qantas Business and First Class airport lounges.

5. Economy vs. Premium Economy: Toilets

Unfortunately, Premium Economy passengers share the same lavatories as Economy class passengers.

6. Economy vs. Premium Economy: Seat

In Premium Economy, you are given a pillow that is left on your seat. While this can be used as any regular back pillow, it also slips over your headrest to help you sleep, whether you are sitting upright or tilting far back.

Premium Economy seats also have an angled ‘mood light’, which isn’t very bright. This light can be used to navigate your space when the main cabin lights are dimmed without disturbing your neighbor. There is also a USB and powerpoint shared between the seats in Premium Economy. Economy is also fairly well catered for in terms of power and USBs, so this is not a major differentiator.

The biggest difference between Premium Economy and Economy is the smaller, more intimate cabin in Premium Economy, of between 32 and 40 seats. Premium Economy also has extra legroom and wider seats, and noise-canceling headphones.

For me, the extra elbow room in the Premium Economy seats enables me to work more comfortably on my laptop, making the width worth paying for.

By the end of 2020, Qantas will have refurbished all its A380 planes with a new and even better Premium Economy. The new A380’s expanded Premium Economy cabin will feature 60 seats – up from 35 – that are 10 percent wider than Qantas’s existing Premium Economy seats and are laid out in a two-three-two configuration to allow maximum aisle access to passengers.

Each seat has an ergonomic headrest that can be fitted with their purpose-designed pillow mentioned above, a feature that is fairly unique. The armrests of aisle seats also lower completely, so there’s no need to return the seat to the upright position to get up.

Other features of the new Premium Economy seats include enormous Panasonic seatback screens, two USB charging points for every seat, as well as a shared AC power-point, and five storage areas.

The highlight is the recline function of the seat, which gives a full nine inches of pitch while the intrusion into the space of the seat in front is minimal, less than four inches.

7. Economy vs. Premium Economy: Seat Recline

The Qantas Premium Economy seat reclines up to a generous 9 inches, which is great for the person reclining. Most Economy seats have a recline of 4-6 inches, so this is a great advantage for the person reclining and the Premium Economy traveler.

8. Economy vs. Premium Economy: Entertainment

In Premium Economy, the monitor for entertainment is larger in Premium Economy, although the catalog of movies and TV is the same. You also get those noise-canceling headphones in premium. In Economy, the screens are smaller, and you don’t get noise-canceling headphones.

On selected flights, you can also stay in touch with family, friends, and colleagues with Internet connectivity, as well as text and multimedia messaging, whichever class you are flying in.

9. Economy vs. Premium Economy: Flight Attendants

Qantas flight attendants serving the Premium Economy cabin have more time for you than those serving in the Qatars Airlines Economy cabin, so Premium Economy wins.

10. Economy vs. Premium Economy: Food

You get free drinks and free food in Qantas Premium Economy. The menu offering is enhanced, and the food is decent.

Expect food and drinks that are a step above that served in Economy. You start with a choice of sparkling water, still water, or sparkling wine before takeoff. The wine is usually Australian Katnook Founder’s Block Chardonnay Pinot Noir.

Dinner is one main from a choice of something like salmon, chicken or pork or beef, plus a green leaf salad and a cake served on the one tray. You can pre-order your preferred dish online up to seven days before your flight to ensure you don’t miss out on your first meal choice. Usually, ice cream bars follow for dessert.

Light bites are free throughout the flight, including a beef brisket sandwich, pasta, fresh fruit, biscuits, etc. Breakfast is cereal and fruit plate, or the hot option is an omelet with sausage and bacon, a hash brown and beans, plus salad and a pastry.

Overall the food is much better than Economy.


I would say that the Qantas Premium Economy is a good product and worth paying the extra if you can afford it. The massive recline on Qantas makes it possible to sleep, and the 2-3-2 config is excellent for accessing the aisle. This is definitely one of the best Premium Economy airlines. I have flown in Premium Economy and would not hesitate to fly it again.

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