10 Reasons To Upgrade: Austrian Airlines Premium Economy Vs Economy


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We compare Austrian Airlines 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 that you will get if you book Premium Economy. Is it worth paying to upgrade your next flight to Premium Economy?

Austrian currently has around 80 aircraft in its fleet and plans to reduce this to 60 by 2022, nine of which will be long-haul jets, as part of a ‘Plan for a New Start’ following the coronavirus crisis. Three B767 aircraft and all of the airline’s A319s will be retired by 2022. But even with fewer aircraft, which means more limited routes, you should consider this airline as the food and service are really rather good.

Most long-haul Austrian flights are operated by the 767-300, though, with the airline flying this plane between VIE and Chicago (ORD), Miami (MIA), New York (JFK), Newark (EWR), Washington, D.C. (IAD), Toronto (YYZ) and Shanghai (PVG).

The facts:

  • Width 9 inches
  • Legroom 38 inches
  • Recline 40 degrees
  • Two Hold Bags (23 kg each) Vs. 1 in Economy

1. Economy 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. Emirates is aiming their Premium Economy at Economy Class passengers willing to pay more for an all-around better travel experience and more space. Prices are competitive, and although more, they are not anywhere near the shocking price tag of Business Class.

2. Economy Vs. Premium Economy: Baggage

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

3.Economy Vs. Premium Economy: Lounges

When flying in Premium Economy, you don’t get access to any Austrian Airlines 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.

4. Economy Vs. Premium Economy: Best Seat

The best Premium Economy seats are situated closest to Business Class and furthest from the extra-space seats in Economy, which tend to be where airlines allocate bassinets (or cradles) for babies.

The seats at the back of the Premium Economy cabin are most likely to suffer from the noise coming from the Economy cabin. For couples, the best choice is the window duos. There is little advantage of being in the central seats in the cabin, although I would still pick the bulkhead middle row over the window duos behind due to the leg rest.

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. 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 B767-300ERs have 18 Premium Economy seats in a 2-2-2 arrangement compared to the B777-200 aircraft with 24 premium economy in a 2-4-2 arrangement.

6. Economy Vs. Premium Economy: Seat Pitch

Austrian Airlines describes its seats as “cozy and snug. It is a little bit like Austria itself”.
At 9 inches across, these Premium Economy seats are around 2 inches wider than their economy counterparts and have a 40-degree recline. The 6-inch armrest between each pair also adds a significant amount of elbow room. Expect more legroom than the Economy seats, too, with useful leg rest.

7. Economy Vs. Premium Economy: Entertainment

Each seatback features a modern 12-inch IFE screen (a good size for Premium Economy, which swivels when the seat in front was reclined. The TV and movie libraries feature over 200 titles combined, including the standard selection of international hits.

The screens provide an additional USB port as well as a 3.5-mm audio jack. This was a nice touch — many airlines use nonstandard audio jacks for their IFE systems, forcing you to use the provided headphones. This gives you the flexibility to use your own.

8. Economy Vs. Premium Economy: Bathroom

Unlike many airlines, Austrian Airlines Premium Economy passengers have to share the Economy toilets. No elite or premium facilities are offered on Austrian in this respect.

9. Economy Vs. Premium Economy: Food & Drink

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

While Austrian Airlines has brilliant food in Austrian Business Class, the Austrian Airlines Premium Economy food, which is served on china and looks good but it is not outstanding. It does, however, remain a decent offering for Premium Economy airline food.

Three mains are offered. Usually chicken with rice and veggies; vegetarian pasta and seafood curry with rice. The meal comes with a warm bread roll, side salad, fruit and cheese plate, and cake. You also get free alcohol and drinks soon after boarding.

10. Economy Vs. Premium Economy: Sleep

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.

For overnight flights, being stuffed in a sardine-tin, 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 by the time 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

Austrian’s premium economy is a great way to fly across the Atlantic with a wider, more spacious seat and nice food, but sharing toilets with Economy passengers and a lack of attention by the staff in the Premium cabin means that the experience doesn’t feel awfully “premium”. If you need the better seat to get some sleep, pick Premium Economy, but given that the price is around double the cost of Economy, you may not find this expensive upgrade worth the price.

Image(s) © Lukas Gojda / Adobe Stock.

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