A kind lady from Kent recently asked the TheAirlineReviewer.com team a question…. “Flying to Dubai – should I go Emirates Economy or BA Premium Economy?”…….which got the The Airline Reviewer thinking so we sent John Nielsen in search for a few solutions that should help you.
Okay who does not like to fly up front in a nice Boeing 787 or A380…….. But who likes to pay for the pleasure! Now I hear you think and say, well if it’s the business paying then okay or using points to upgrade, but personally? Hmm let me think again……..
It’s a big mind field out there in the aviation world and it’s not getting easier as time goes by. Little doubt can be in everyone’s mind that when looking at a flatbed in business class on a Dreamliner 787 there is no comparison to an economy seat on the same plane, but when you then say Premium Economy and the price difference on a full service airline and what you can do with that money you begin to consider the options.
Economy on a Low Cost VS Economy on a Full Service airline
The official standard seat pitch on airlines including Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, Jet Blue or Singapore Airlines in Economy ranges from 32 to 35 inches, depending on the airline and the type of aircraft and of course long or short haul. Low Cost airlines average between 29 to 31 inches of seat pitch.
Challenges for travellers
The biggest challenge for travellers is of course the expression known as Revenue & Yield Management, which is used by airlines & hotels to measure the amount of money and profit each seat or room makes the company. It’s a great way for the business to analyze the business, but can often not be very friendly to the person flying or staying in a nice hotel, as prices jump up and down in a short period. Who has not tried to book a seat only to see the price go up overnight, due to demand and in effect Yield Management tools, often calculated by a computer.
Flying regularly in Asia over the years, I have often selected Singapore Airlines & Cathay Pacific economy class and been happy with space and comfort of the seat. The Airbus A380 & A330’s are excellent as is the newer A350 and the Dreamliner Boeing 787. Travelling on a low cost airline compared with a SIA or CX really does change the journey. A former Steward on Ansett Airlines and now Ambassador of theAirlineReviewer.com Mr. R Bradley has found ”the services of Air Asia to be fast and affordable”. He continues to say “with Air Asia you pay for what you get “But it’s a great shame that the customer service skills of this entire airline a minimal to non-existent”.
Other small important items that low costs airlines don’t include is access to a lounge or baggage which quickly can mount up with a family. Fly business class and you bring the household, fly a low cost airline and you can barely bring the toilet bag without incurring extra charges, oh and if flying with Ryanair, forget to print your boarding pass and a small fine of 45 Euro will be the fee…… what wonderful service…. to print a page or as Mr. Bradley states “what happened to good old customer service?”.
The big Middle Eastern carriers; Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways have all got superb Business class products and over the years have helped lift the game in Economy. Mr. Bradley even says “travelling in economy with Emirates is like travelling in business class on all others” .
Premium Economy…… the new low cost business class…..
I have become quite a fan of Premium Economy and often don’t really understand why more airlines have been so slow in introducing it. On the various journeys I have flown, its always been full, so airlines are on average doing very well on this, as its really only the seat pitch and size that is bigger compared to economy. The food is in-general the same and price a good 40% more. I have spoken to numerus of business travellers who now use Premium Economy on journey’s below six-hours as they feel is saves their travel budgets. Overall is really very comfortable, with large screens and good space to work from and having used I used it on a 14-hour business trip to Chicago from Hong Kong and could not fault it.
Best premium Economy ?
Often quoted as one the best in the Premium Economy market is Singapore Airlines who’s seats offer 19.5 inches of width, 38 inches of pitch and 8 inches of recline. The seats are well-padded and comfortable and excellent large screens. Qantas latest premium economy seat is like SQ’s well designed on the 787 Dreamliner with a generous 41” seat pitch and 9” recline and offers cabins featuring 28 to 40 seats in a 2-3-2 layout with dedicated airport counter, priority boarding lane and a dedicated crew. Fellow One World member British Airways have new seats with better ergonomics, increased recline, personal in-seat power and a 60% larger TV. On BA’s Boeing 777-200s, premium economy class passengers have a dedicated cabin with just 40 recliner seats in a 2-4-2 layout.
Virgin Australia introduced three rows named Economy X, giving travellers more leg-room on all B737-800’s, which has proven popular and gives travellers on the B777 an extra 38 inches or 96cm of legroom. Virgin Atlantic’s 787-9s premium-economy cabin is situated between Upper Class and economy featuring 35 reclining seats arranged in a 2-3-2 layout. Each one is 21 inches wide and has 38 inches of pitch.
Other excellent examples include American Airlines, Air New Zealand, Air Canada, Delta and KLM. With the growing numbers of travellers in Asia and wealth, there is little doubt that this segment will pay that little extra to arrive in comfort, compared to being cramped up in economy and as the newer planes of B787, A350 take to the skies there will be plenty of new options for travellers to choose from. Airlines have boosted up the Premium Economy marketing efforts with even branded amenity products, normally only seen in Business Class.
For the record our response to the kind lady from Kent is to take the BA Premium Economy…… we look forward to hearing from her and the review!
John Nielsen, The Airline Reviewer