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10 Reasons To Upgrade: Air New Zealand Premium Economy Vs Economy


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We compare Air New Zealand Economy vs. Premium Economy. We review 10 reasons why it’s worth paying for the upgrade. We review the cost, seat, food, check-in, and airport lounge you’ll get if you book Premium Economy. Is it worth paying to upgrade your next flight to Premium Economy?

Interestingly, Air New Zealand used to offer one of the best Premium Economy seats in the industry. Then they amended their brilliant seats to a smaller seat which isn’t as good! The new seat is now present across their B787-9, and B777-200, and -300 planes, the B787 or B777 or have a 2-3-2 or 2-4-2 arrangement. The new seats offer great legroom but quite a poor width for a Premium Economy seat. They are certainly no longer groundbreaking.

The facts:

  • Width 19.3in/49cm
  • Legroom 41in/104cm
  • Recline 8in/20cm
  • Two Hold Bags (23 kg each) vs. 1 in Economy
  • Priority Baggage
  • Priority Boarding

1. Economy vs. Premium Economy: Price

If the price is your biggest factor when deciding 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. Air New Zealand aims their Premium Economy at Economy Class passengers willing to pay more for an all-round better travel experience and more space. Prices are competitive, and although more, they are not anywhere near the shocking price tag of Business Class.

If your business is paying, then the situation is different. You don’t have to worry so much about the cost. With this in mind, the Premium Economy offering does have more space and better food as well as more and better drinks. If your business is paying, book Premium (or Business, or First Class!)

2. Economy vs. Premium Economy: Check-in

Air New Zealand is expected to have a separate Premium Economy check-in and priority boarding over Economy so there is a nice advantage at check-in and before you board.

3. Economy vs. Premium Economy: Baggage

You get 2 hold suitcases when traveling in Premium Economy, which is a big bonus.

4.Economy vs. Premium Economy: Lounges

When flying in Premium Economy, you don’t get access to any Air New Zealand lounges for free, although you can pay a hefty fee for access on booking or once you are at the airport. Alternatively, If you have not paid for Business Class or First Class, you can still access lounges at this airport for a fee or for free if you have a Priority Pass. Get an unlimited Priority Pass with the Amex Platinum card, or you can also access most Priority Pass lounges for free using the free American Express Gold with its two free Lounge Club passes. To get extra referral points and advice on these free-lounge-access cards and more, have a read of our best credit cards for luxury travel.

5. Economy vs. Premium Economy: Seat Design

When flying in the Premium Economy seat, you get a wider seat with additional pitch. For me, the extra elbow room in the Premium Economy seats enables me to work more comfortably on my laptop. On Air New Zealand, the seat is wider, but for a Premium Economy seat, the width isn’t outstanding. Conversely, the pitch and legroom are very good on Air New Zealand.

The extra recline in Premium Economy also enables me to sleep for a short period, a crucial reason to choose to fly Premium Economy if you are flying overnight.

The seat will be set up with an eight-across layout in a B787 or B777 cabin with a 2-3-2 or 2-4-2 configuration.

6. Economy vs. Premium Economy: Seat Pitch

Expect around 41 inches of pitch, up to 6 inches more legroom than their Economy seats. A major advantage of this generous pitch is that it offers enough space for you to slide past your neighbor when the seat in front of your neighbor isn’t reclined.

7. Economy vs. Premium Economy: Entertainment

The 9 inch-by-5.5 inch IFE screen on the back of each seat is decent quality, and the screen can tilt, so you can still see it when the passenger in front of you is reclined. The headphones are decent too. There are also two universal power outlets between each pair of seats.

8. Economy vs. Premium Economy: Amenity Kit

The amenity kit on Air New Zealand includes a toothbrush with Colgate, earplugs, eye mask, socks, Ashley & Co intensive lip balm, earplugs, and a pen.

9. Economy vs. Premium Economy: Food & Drink

A big bonus traveling on British Airways in Premium Economy is getting Club World standard meals (with fewer choices) served on proper crockery with a real napkin.

While Air New Zealand doesn’t provide a drink before takeoff, once in the air, a trolley is pushed around, which has a nice selection of alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks, including four Thornbury Hawkes Bay New Zealand wines — merlot, pinot noir, chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc — as well as spirits including Johnny Walker Red scotch, rum, Smirnoff vodka, and Dulcet New Zealand sparkling wine. You can also have a beer, juices, sodas, and tea.

The food on Air New Zealand is excellent and presented on ceramic plates, metal cutlery, and glasses. Expect a choice between delicious lamb, chicken, or fish like salmon, all beautifully presented with a mix of accompaniments. For example, the salmon is likely to come with a chicken salad with green beans and a dessert, like a mousse or cake, as well as rolls. There’s also a basket in the galley for snacks during the flight.

Breakfast is a choice between two options, usually a scrambled egg dish like an egg-filled quesadilla or pancakes with berry compote and syrup. These are served with cut fruit, and the meal is usually tasty.

Honestly, the food on Air New Zealand is a highlight. They offer some of the best Premium Economy inflight food of any airline and some of the best wines.

The relatively small number of Premium Economy seats will also result in a better level of service with more crew assigned per passenger.

10. Economy vs. Premium Economy: Why Upgrade?

Following on from my comments about the price, you may wonder whether it is worth upgrading from Economy to Premium Economy at all! Well, it is. The biggest reason to upgrade from Economy to Premium Economy is to get some sleep, or at least some rest, particularly if you are flying on an overnight flight.

Being stuffed in a sardine-tin for overnight flights, with little space to move and next-to-no recline means that sleep is difficult. Or impossible.

When I fly in Economy, I find, 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 as soon as I drop off.

The result is that you can feel pretty grotty after an Economy flight when you get to your destination. This matters if you are potentially ruining the first day of your trip because you haven’t spent the extra on upgrading your flight.

Even if the price is your biggest factor when choosing between Economy and Premium Economy, Premium Economy can mean that you avoid wasting a day of your holiday, which may ultimately be worth more than the price difference.

Economy vs. Premium Economy: Conclusion

Air New Zealand Premium Economy is worth the extra cost. While the width of the seats isn’t anything special, their design is comfortable and inductive to sleep, the pitch is excellent so you have plenty of legroom, and the food and wine are some of the best premium Economy inflight food of any airline.

Note: Benefits & upgrades subject to availability. Benefits offered correct at the time of writing. Terms & conditions apply. Enquire for more information. Posts may be sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced.