Premium economy is, as most travelers know, a product positioned between economy and business class. A comfortable product for the price-conscious and comfort-oriented passenger, the industry claims. Let’s take a closer look: is it really worth the extra cost?

The problem with premium economy is first and foremost the price. Often much pricier than regular economy, the price difference to a business class ticket can be relatively small.

The battle for customers is fierce, especially for those travelers who are willing to pay extra to have a comfortable flight.

The airlines, working with seat manufacturers such as Recaro, have developed seats that are slimmer, more ergonomic and offer various details such as headrest. This is good, but the real motivation has been for airlines to squeeze in more seats. If we go back a few decades, the legroom in the economy was far better than it is today, in fact as much as 5-7 cm more legroom was common.

For many, it becomes natural to choose a premium travel class to enjoy better comfort on a long flight. For a lot of travelers, it has become more of a necessity.

Another reason premium economy has entered the stage, is employers’ travel policies. Many companies demand that trips should be booked in cheaper classes than business class, although the difference in price can be small.

Singapore Airlines, that introduced premium economy a few years ago, and according to sales manager for the Nordic and Baltic countries, Henrik Hanevold are well pleased with the sale of the premium economy seats.

I can only answer for Singapore Airlines here in the Nordic countries, but we are absolutely satisfied with the occupancy in premium economy on our routes from Copenhagen and Stockholm. As expected, passengers are a mix of private travelers who choose to upgrade to some extra comfort and business travelers who choose the mid-range as an affordable alternative due to policy in the companies they work for.

– The price can be close to that of business class?

The price is very dependent on when you book and which booking classes are available. When ordering early, premium economy prices is usually located approximately midway between economy class and the cheapest tickets in business. As one approaches the date of departure, the price differences can sometimes be slightly different since they are based on occupancy rates in each class. For example, one can sometimes see that economy class is almost full while there is still a lot of free seats in premium economy, and then the price difference to economy can be small. In the opposite situation, where premium economy is quite sold out, the price is often approaching that of business class. One cannot say that there is a fixed difference. If both a discounted premium economy and a discounted business class are available, then the difference is quite significant ”, explains Hanevold.

– And what about the product itself, is it worth the extra cost, compared to economy?

Our experience is that premium economy is clearly better than normal economy class, and one can easily see that with our product. Some carriers offer a premium economy which is really just a regular economy class with a little extra legroom, and then it is hard to defend the price difference, ” concludes Hanevold.

Our take:

Premium economy products vary widely. But in general, if we look at those offered on intercontinental flights, seats are a little wider, there is a bit more leg space, you can push back your seat a bit further. Premium economy products also include the serving of Champagne, a slightly better meal, fewer seats in the width, and you are in a separate section in the plane.

Still, we find it a bit hard to justify the much higher price. For us, it makes sense to buy premium economy only if you are on a budget and if you find a great deal that is not so much more expensive than economy. Otherwise, stick with business class!

Singapore Airlines Premium Economy:

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Lufthansa Premium Economy:

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