Interested in premium economy? From Singapore Airlines to Qantas, Skyscanner Australia reviews the cheapest and best premium economy airlines, so you can cherry pick a luxury seat from the best of the bunch.
Waiting in long lines to board your plane, battling with other passengers for space for your cabin baggage, then watching your knees slide into the back of the seat in front of you while you play elbow tango with your seat neighbour are just some of the many woes you have to face when flying economy class. There is, however, a solution: premium economy.
What is premium economy?
Premium economy is a cabin class sandwiched between economy and business class. It is generally found on international flights, and popular short-haul domestic ones. Typical benefits include wider seats seats and more legroom, prioritized check-in and boarding, plus premium meals, services, and amenities.
Is there are difference between economy and premium economy?
Yes, there is a big difference between economy and premium economy, and it primarily is in terms of space. Generally speaking you are given roughly 12-18cm (5-7in) extra legroom space, 3-5cm (1-2in) extra seat-width space, and 5-7cm (2-3in) extra seat reclining space in premium economy seats. If you like to stretch out your legs (or are just tall) and hate fighting for elbow space then you’ll find that upgrading will afford you a lot more comfort in-flight.
But here’s the million dollar question: is paying for premium economy worth it? Well, Skyscanner Australia have put together a list of the top 5 premium economy airlines that we think are worth paying for.
Singapore Airlines is already a formidable name in the skies, but it is also hitting review lists as one of the best premium economy airlines. As with everything Singapore Airlines does, their premium economy service is (forgive the pun) first class, and certainly enough to make them worth bookmarking when you use our search filters.
Seats: Each seat offers 96cm (38 inch) of legroom (compared to 81cm (32in) in standard economy), along with the ability to recline 20cm (8in). There is also a calf and foot rest, as well as two USB ports, a universal power outlet, an adjustable reading lamp, and more storage space. Additional perks are Wi-Fi access, a 33cm (13in) high-definition entertainment monitor, and noise-cancelling headphones.
Dining: Passengers of premium economy on Singapore Airlines can get a little tipsy with wine or champagne, and then try airline’s exclusive “Book the Cook” service, where you pre-order your meal before you fly. Satay in the sky, anyone?
Extra features: Passengers will also have priority check-in, boarding, and baggage handling.
Read more: 8 of the best business class airlines
The premium economy class seats on the German airline, Lufthansa, boast of being up to 50% more roomie on all sides than your average economy seat. They’re also in a whole separate compartment to economy seating, which is perfect if you’ve always dreamed about being behind that taunting blue curtain!
Seats: Lufthansa’s premium economy seats have around 96cm (38 inch) of legroom, and are a generous 45-48cm (18-19in) in width. There’s a footrest, a larger 30cm (12in) monitor, and more storage space.
Dining: All meals and drinks are included, plus in this cabin class you are served your meals with china tableware and real cutlery, which is a Godsend if you, like everyone else, have known the misery of a plastic knife and fork.
Extra features: Premium Economy passengers receive priority boarding, and access to Lufthansa Business Class Lounges for $25. You’ll be given additional baggage allowance of two checked bags up to 23kg each.
Passengers on Qantas’ premium economy class have a separate, dedicated check-in counter as well as priority boarding, much like most premium economy classes for the other airlines. Their standout feature is the private cabin that is equipped with ergonomically designed seats that have a multiway adjustable headrest. Your body will thank you after the long haul, trust us.
Seats: The legroom and width measurements for Qantas are really good – the space to stretch your legs clocks in at about 96-106cm (38-42in), whilst the elbow room is at 48cm-56cm(19-22in). You can also recline up to 23cm (9in) overall, and utilise the footrest. The in-flight entertainment screen has grown 25% larger, and comes with noise cancelling headphones. USB and power outlets are provided.
Dining: Everything is gratis, and the modern menu is designed by Australian chef Neil Perry. There are a host of excellent domestic wines to choose from, and again, you can banish thoughts of flimsy plastic cutlery.
Extra features: Each passenger gets a little comfort kit, and a hefty 40kg baggage allowance.
Cathay Pacific has focused their premium economy class seats on legroom, and providing those tantalising extra amenities that people crave in an upgrade.
Seats: Cathay Pacific’s premium economy seats have 96cm-101 (38-40 inches) of pitch, and 47-49cm (18.5-19.5in) of width. You get 20cm (8in) of recline, plus leg- and foot-rests. There’s a large tray table, and a smaller cocktail table when you don’t need the bigger one. Plus, you can look forward to a 30cm (12in) monitor, USB ports, power outlets, and access to WiFi (for a small charge).
Dining: You’re welcomed onboard with a glass of champagne (yay!) and get to choose from an upgraded menu.
Extra features: Premium economy passengers get an additional baggage allowance of up to 35kg, either in weight or the number of pieces to check in. You’ll also get a sweet (and environmentally friendly) amenity pack.
Read more: 10 ways to get a free flight upgrade
This leading Japanese airline’s premium economy ticket holders will enjoy all the extra room they could want while flying, but in a flash of pure genius, they’ll also supply you with complimentary lounge access.
Seats: ANA’s premium economy seats offer 17% more room than their economy counterparts. We’re talking 96cm (38in) pitch, 49cm (19.3in) width, and extendable footrests. WiFi service is available on a lot of routes, and you’ll find access to USB ports, power outlets, noise cancelling earphones, and a 27cm (10.6in) entertainment screen.
Dining: The meals are the same as those served in economy class, but if you have a sweet tooth you’re in luck because the desserts come straight from business class.
Extra features: One of the best extras is access to the ANA lounges, which you can access all around the world. You will also receive priority check-in and baggage handling.
Can’t wait to fly more comfortably? Use Skyscanner Australia to book your flights, so you can see how much premium economy is worth on each airline, making sure you snap up the cheapest premium economy seats on the market. Keep ahead of the trends by signing up for our newsletter, so you know when airlines are launching new services like the much touted Emirates premium economy coming later this year.