We compare Emirates Economy vs. Premium Economy to find out whether it’s worth paying for the upgrade. We review the cost, seat, food, check-in, and airport lounge that you will experience if you book Emirates Premium Economy. Is it worth paying to upgrade your next flight to Premium Economy?
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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-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!)
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.
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: Check-in
Emirates 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.
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 don’t get access to any Emirates 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.
If you are an Emirates Skywards or Qantas Frequent Flyer with a premium status, you will get Emirates lounge access for free.
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 also enables me to sleep for a short period, a crucial reason to fly Premium Economy if you are flying overnight.
Emirates has chosen an “Eclipse” cabin layout. The cabin can be modified to be either short-haul business class or long-haul premium economy as long-haul premium economy seats are quite similar to a short-haul first or business seat.
The width and layout are fairly similar to premium-economy seating on all the main airlines. The main differences are the staggered row layout and the shell seat design. EmiratesPremium Economy seat fully cradles the legs and feet and is coupled with a 10-inch recline to become a railway-style ‘sleeperette’, but not a flatbed.
The fixed-shell means that whether the person in front reclines their seat or not, you will not be affected. The seat is meant to span Premium Economy and Business Class because of the better privacy, making this one of the best Premium Economy seats on the market.
The seat will be set up with an eight-across layout in a 787 cabin in a 2-4-2 configuration.
Economy vs. Premium Economy: Seat Pitch
Expect around 38 inches of pitch, up to 6 inches more legroom than their Economy seats.
Economy vs. Premium Economy: Entertainment
Expect a larger inflight video screen and, hopefully, noise-canceling headphones.
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 Emirates does not promise the BA Business Class meals to their Premium Economy passengers, expect better catering, with better main meals, drinks, and refreshments than those in the Economy cabin. This may even include a glass of Champagne before takeoff.
The relatively small number of Premium Economy seats will also result in a better level of service with more crew assigned per passenger.
Economy vs. Premium Economy: Conclusion
Emirates Premium Economy is worth the extra cost. It is worth paying for the upgrade if you can afford it. We particularly love the intimate cabin size, which, on the Emirates Airbus A380, is located at the front of the lower deck with around 56 seats. Even better, on Emirates A380s, which don’t have First Class, Premium Economy will be added onto the upper deck with around 56 seats.
Further good news is that if you snag a flight on Emirates’ Boeing 777 jets, expect even smaller, more intimate Premium Economy cabins of around 26-28 seats”, behind Business Class but in front of economy.
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