Premium economy is the reasonably priced option to make flying feel special, or at least less like you're being cattle herded into an impossibly cramped seat. For that reason, premium economy is a welcome addition to the travel scene. Unfortunately, "what" premium economy entails can vary in major ways between airlines, so it's worth looking at what you should expect and whether it's worth it.
Premium Economy Should Get You...
The very best premium economy products offer upgraded journeys from the minute you arrive at the airport, with separate check in lanes for the premium economy cabin as well as priority luggage tags. From there you may or may not receive a fast track invitation, a nice time saving perk. During boarding you should receive priority boarding, and once on the plane, assuming you've gone with one of the best, you should expect a wider more padded seat seat with more pitch, perhaps a foot rest, enhanced crew service, better drinks and maybe even a nice little amenity kit to freshen up. Want to learn more about the best? Check THIS POST.
It's Also A Great Way To Upgrade To Business Class!
One overlooked benefit of booking premium economy is that if you have miles or credit card points which can become miles, it's a great trick to turn a reasonable amount of money into a business class ticket. Most airlines only allow you to upgrade one class of service, therefore meaning you can't jump from economy to business. If you book premium at a good price however, you'll need only a fraction of miles required to book business class outright just using miles, you'll still earn miles for the flight, and you'll end up in a flat bed. For example, Singapore Airlines prices premium economy about $200-$300 more than economy round trip and it's a nice experience. For just 17,750 miles each way between New York and Frankfurt, you can then upgrade that seat to business, enjoying Singapore's award winning flat bed business cabin, book the cook service and lovely champagne...
It Sounds Good, But Is It Worth It?
It's all about the price and all about the individual airline. For long flights, for one of the best premium economy options like Virgin Atlantic, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Singapore or Air New Zealand, paying a bit extra (within your own financial means) is probably worth it. On carriers which just offer the front few rows of a cabin with a bit of extra legroom and nothing else, it's hardly worth more than $25-$50 each way in price difference, especially on flights under five hours. Educate yourself as to what your airline will offer, search for the best price of Premium Economy using Google Flights, compare prices for just booking economy and then see if it makes sense for you.