There’s no doubt that when it comes to life in the sky, things up front are better than ever, but although cheaper than ever, life in the back of the plane has never been tighter. So, what about the middle of the plane? For transcontinental or intercontinental flights, Premium Economy – the far more tolerable alternative to economy, can be a total game changer. But is it worth it? Short answer: it can be, and these seats will offer the very best experiences on long haul flights…

Air France

Air France’s premium economy cabin is much like a regional business class, offering exceptionally good beverages, noise cancelling headphones and major fast track benefits, identical to those for business class customers in terms of luggage, security and priority boarding.

Seat Dimensions: 19” Seat Width x 40” Pitch (Legroom).
On Board Features: Extra Large TV. Reclining Shell Seat. Amenity Kit.
Power Ports: Yes. Stay Charged Up.
Separate Check In? Yes, SkyPriority Fast Track.
Baggage Allowance: 2 Checked Bags. 2 Carry Ons.
Lounge Access? For A Fee. $25-$35, Depending On Country.
Champagne? Yes. Woohoo.
What About The Food? Different And Better Than Economy.
Priority Baggage? Yes. Time = Saved.

 

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand ditched their innovative Space Seat, but continue to shine with inspired food, leading Australia and New Zealand wines and priority access – ensuring a speedy journey upon landing. Since virtually all flights to and from New Zealand are long, this is a worthy expenditure.

Seat Dimensions: 19” Seat Width. 43″ Seat Pitch (Legroom).
On Board Features: Extra Cushion. Leg Support. Amenity Kit.
Power Ports: Yes. Stay Charged Up.
Separate Check In? Yes. Dedicated Premium Economy Desk.
Baggage Allowance: 2 Checked Bags. 2 Carry Ons.
Lounge Access? No, Sorry.
Champagne? Yep, And Good Wine.
What About The Food? Different And Better Than Economy.
Priority Baggage? Yes, Time = Saved.

Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines offers an incredibly comprehensive, value packed premium economy experience. The seats are amongst the most spacious, airport lounge access is incredible and the food program is designed from inspired Japanese cuisine. It’s hard to use the word “economy” here.

Seat Dimensions: 19” Seat Width. 42″ Seat Pitch (Legroom).
On Board Features: Bespoke Design. XL Screen. Amenity Kit.
Power Ports: Yes. Stay Charged Up.
Separate Check In? Yes, Dedicated Premium Economy Counter.
Baggage Allowance: 2 Checked Bags.
Lounge Access? Yes, When In Japan. Possible In Other Locations.
Champagne? Yes. Gardet Brut, A Typical Business Class Champagne.
What About The Food? Different And Better Than Economy.
Priority Baggage? Yes, Special Priority Tags. Time = Saved.

Cathay Pacific

When you’re flying for 15+ hours, every bit helps. Cathay’s premium economy seat isn’t the newest, but it’s among the very most comfortable. Add in a luxurious amenity kit, quiet cabin and some champagne and this is an excellent choice.

Seat Dimensions: 19.5″ Seat Width. 39″ Seat Pitch (Legroom).
On Board Features: Extra Padded Seat, Small Cabin. Amenity Kit.
Power Ports: Yes. Stay Charged Up.
Separate Check In? Yes! Dedicated Premium Economy Check In.
Baggage Allowance: 1 Checked Bag, 1 Carry On.
Lounge Access? No, Sorry.
Champagne? Yes, Woohoo!
What About The Food? Different And Better Than Economy.
Priority Baggage? Yes, Priority Tags.

Qantas

Offering one of the largest, most padded and most spacious seats in the premium economy category is an excellent start. From there, Qantas excels with their Neil Perry celebrity chef partnership, priority baggage and boarding. The storage space helps too..

Seat Dimensions: 19.5″ Seat Width. 42″ Seat Pitch (Legroom).
On Board Features: Amenity Kit, Adjustable Head Rest, Extra Storage.
Power Ports: Yes. Stay Charged Up.
Separate Check In? Yes, Dedicated Priority Check In.
Baggage Allowance: One Checked Bag, One Carry On.
Lounge Access? No, Sorry.
Champagne? Sparkling Wine. Close Enough…
What About The Food? Neil Perry’s Rockpool Grill Inspired Menu!
Priority Baggage? No, Sorry.

ANA- All Nippon Airways

Competition is fierce amongst Japanese carriers, and ANA is a leading player. Your airport experience is instantly better (than economy) from start to finish, with priority check in, lounge access and fast tracks for baggage. The food may just be worth staying up for as well…

Seat Dimensions: 19″ Seat Width. 39″ Seat Pitch (Legroom).
On Board Features: Head, Leg And Foot Rests. Amenity Kit.
Power Ports: Yes. Stay Charged Up.
Separate Check In? Yes, Dedicated Premium Economy Check In Area.
Baggage Allowance: Two Checked Bags. Standard Carry On Policy.
Lounge Access? Yes! In Most Major Cities.
Champagne? Yes. Woohoo!
What About The Food? Different And Better Than Economy.
Priority Baggage? Yes, Priority Pick Up Service.

Virgin Atlantic

First they give you the welcome bubbles, and then they hit you with an after dinner digestif or liqueur to send you off to sleep. Sold! Virgin’s generous baggage allowance, comfy seats and premium lanes make for a wonderful way to fly between the world and London!

Seat Dimensions: 21″ Seat Width. 38″ Seat Pitch (Legroom).
On Board Features: Adjustable Head And Foot Rests. Amenity Kit. Newspapers.
Power Ports: Yes. Stay Charged Up.
Separate Check In? Yes, Dedicated Premium Economy Check In Area.
Baggage Allowance: Two Checked Bags. Standard Carry On Policy.
Lounge Access? No, Sorry!
Champagne? Sparkling Wine. Close Enough! And, After Dinner Liqueur.
What About The Food? Different And Better Than Economy.
Priority Baggage? Yes, Priority Over Economy.

Singapore Airlines

Sometimes it’s the soft touches that make a difference – and Singapore Airlines is no exception. Their seat is a solid tie with other top carriers, but their exclusive service, book the cook food offerings, state of the art televisions and airport fast tracks are second to none.

Seat Dimensions: 19.5″ Seat Width. 38″ Seat Pitch (Legroom).
On Board Features: State Of The Art TV’s. Amenity Kit. Headphones.
Power Ports: Yes. Stay Charged Up.
Separate Check In? Yes, Dedicated Premium Economy Check In Area.
Baggage Allowance: Two Checked Bags. Standard Carry On Policy.
Lounge Access? No, Sorry!
Champagne? Yes! And Singapore Slings! Woohoo.
What About The Food? You Can Book The Cook, Meal From Extensive Menu.
Priority Baggage? Yes, Priority Baggage Handling.

 Who else should be on the list?! Comment below..

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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23 Comments

    1. For the most part – yes. Lie flats and lounge access. Obviously the food and beverage is generally upgraded, but some of these are so solid that on shorter flights (NY to London, western Europe, etc) it’s hard to justify the extra expense for business. In my opinion of course…

  1. SAS also has an equivalent premium economy seat with better seats, food, fast track and even lounge access. I think also BA has a great PE product too.

  2. LH premium economy is better than economic but not that better to be on this list. No champagne, no priority boarding nor check in. Baggage are treated like regular ecomony bags. There’s lounge access for a fee in certain airports.

  3. That Virgin Atlantic picture doesn’t look like the one I’ve flown – is that definitely VA? Also – hadn’t clocked you could Book the Cook in SIA PE. Probably an oversight on my part though…

  4. SAS has a very good Premium economy product with comfortable seats, free wifi, better food, lounge and fast track.

  5. thank you for not putting the crappy British Airway seats in there, they were extremely uncomfortable on both the 777-200 and the A380.

  6. China Airlines PE. pretty much the same as JAL. But honestly my best friend/s are Ambien/Xanax, are the better “Seat”, Prescribed by a licensed physician of course. Last december i was on CI PE, after the first meal i fell a sleep with a ice cream and the spoon still in my hands. best sleep on a flight ever.

    1. I second this – not crazy about the seats that slide forward rather than reclining (as seems the norm in PE) but it certainly made a 16+ hour flight a lot more pleasant.

  7. Air canadas hard product is good on the dreamliner and 77w, great cabin and good seats. Meals not a strong point but cheap lounge access is a nice touch too

  8. I have flew in the airfrance premium economy seat twice and I have to say that their seat is very good looking but it is the worst premium economy seat I have tried. The way it’s built is very uncomfortable with our body and back, and I’m not very tall.
    I’d rather pay economy and add a good menu in their website.
    The only positive thing is the sky priority before the flight.

    Otherwise, I was expecying to see Lufthansa premium economy, those seats are great !

  9. British Airways is now a rubbish airline. Would not wish to ever travel with them again. Had a serious complaint last November, never resolved to my satisfaction. One of my complaints was my seat in premium economy (back breaking) had there been room I would have slept on the floor of the cabin! PE total waste of money!

  10. Have to concur with criticisms about BA. No dedicated check-in/priority boarding/baggage + power ports on 777-200 you need an adapter for UK?! Lastly no cooked breakfast – awful cold boxes.

  11. I use AF PE often. The food is the same as Economy, with a slightly better starter. That starter is the only difference in service between the classes. Champagne is served, as it is in Economy. The fixed shell seats are spacious, but they are renowned for how agonising they are to try and sleep in. They don’t recline at all, instead the seat slides forward and your back slides down. Economy is much more comfortable for a red eye because you can recline.

  12. This is the drinker’s list? Every airline listed here as having good Premium Economy offers complimentary champagne or sparkling wine. But the seats are all over the place, with most only 19″ wide (many Economy class seats are as wide or wider) and half having pitch of 38 or 39 inches… perhaps 20% more than a typical 32″ Economy seat. And for those for whom the seat comfort is not paramount, the difference between one and two included checked bags, the nature of the power delivered to the seat (some have circuit breakers that limit current to less than half an ampere, inadequate for a business laptop), all seem more important to determining whether the Premium Economy experience is truly Premium than whether you have to pay for a glass of wine.

    Perhaps a list which gave both objective (seat width / pitch) and subjective (while working, while eatiing, while sleeping) measures of the comfort of the seats, and showed the best dozen or so of those, supplemented with the other information about the facilities and perqs afforded to Premium passengers, would also be of interest to others besides me.

    1. I welcome you to start your own blog. I I gave you seat width, pitch, features, food, airport amenities. If you want more, you’ll have to start your own. I think many people are happy to learn whether or not champagne will be served. It’s part of the fun.

    2. True, I’m looking for a PE that gives me/us the most comfortable experience, bugger the champagne/a la carte menu, and the other fripperies, leg room and comfort, so who’s best for that?

  13. You should definitely include Norwegian’s premium economy on LH 787 routes -it has fantastic recline and is far superior to some of the legacy airlines’ PE product

  14. Any plans for a similar detailed review of the Air Canada PE seat? We will be flying on them from Sydney to Toronto next spring (using points).

  15. I probably wouldn’t be able to sleep on a plane no matter how comfy the seats are, but it’s surely good to know which airlines have the best seats! 🙂

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