In the current climate of austerity, many people are thinking twice about paying for business-class airfares.
As I’ve argued before, if you can afford to fly business and you want to, nothing should stop you from treating yourself. However, if it’s going to break the bank, you don’t have to totally slum it in the ever-tighter economy or “basic economy” seats.
Which is, partly, why some airlines are introducing premium economy seats for the first time and others are improving their PE offering.
Some airlines, including the huge Dubai-based Emirates, are fearing that not offering PE will lose them market share to airlines that do.
The dilemma for all airlines is: how to make these seats attractive enough to lure economy passengers into paying more, but not attractive enough to stop people who can afford to do from flying business?
Related story: Fly your own way Related story: Paying a premium
Well, for some airlines it means upgrading the business offering, too, just to make the distinction clear.
In any case, what you can expect in premium economy is to pay perhaps two to three times as much as economy price (as opposed to up to seven times for some business class seats), plus:
+ Priority boarding and disembarkation, although not lounge access (unless you are a frequent flyer or other loyalty card holder with the correct status).
+ A wider seat that tilts back further (but won’t get any near lying flat like a biz-class seat) and, perhaps, has a foot rest.
+ A separate cabin (although the separation may only be a curtain, and you may have to use the economy cabin rest rooms).
+ Dedicated service staff and greater attention from them than in economy.
+ A better menu to choose from and better presentation of food. Plus, maybe, more access to alcoholic beverages.
+ Fewer seats across, although you may still find yourself with direct aisle access and possible in the middle of a bank of three (as you can in some business-class cabins).
+ A sightly better entertainment system, possibly with a bigger screen (although these are being phased out on some airlines in favour of wi-fi internet access that allows you to stream to your own device.
+ A more relaxed and comfortable flight.
+ A warm inner glow and a small sense of superiority.