Premium Economy – Is It For You?

Had enough of ‘Cattle Class’ but Business Class is too expensive?

Well perhaps Premium Economy could be for you if travelling long haul .

Comfort

Although some people says its not close to Business Class in my experience the better Premium Economy seats are often similar to the Business Class of the 1990’s.

Most airlines will have wider and more comfortable seats with more legroom and better recline.

More like a reclining armchair.

Do check on the airline’s website though . . . . I haven’t been that happy with the airlines that only provide an empty seat next to you.

Other Benefits

Depending on the airline you could receive some, or all the following benefits:

  • Priority check-in
  • More baggage allowance
  • Priority boarding
  • Better menu
  • More personalised service.
  • Lounge access

Cost

Expect to pay around twice the price of an Economy seat but around half the cost of a Lie Flat Business ticket.

Travellers Hack

The different airline Premium Economy offerings vary considerably so you need to compare the different offerings carefully rather than just going on price.

Airline Food

Overall Airline Meals seem to have a fairly bad reputation . . . but is it deserved?

The Good

I think its amazing you can be eating a meal 20,000m in the air travelling at 1,000km/hour several hours travel from a kitchen.

I have never got food poisoning from an airline meal, or even heard of anyone else who has been ill.

Emirates Business (from www.wikipedia.com)

If you are willing to fly business class you do get 3 to 4 good choices and the food is usually attractively presented.

Usually every course is presented separately as it would in a restaurant.

I have heard some airlines have a chef to finish off partially prepared meals.

The Bad

It’s not the fault of the airlines that the effect of the reduced pressure and drier air on the plane affects your sense of smell and taste.

To counteract the taste issue I tend to go for the more spicy, or strong tasting choices.

Qantas Economy

To feed the 200+ people in long haul economy it is mass catering aimed at fast distribution of the meals, rather than presentation.

(From my experiences I would say Emirates has some of the better economy meals)

Due to cost and extra weight airlines are going to limit the amount of food carried

That means if they guess wrong some people will not get a choice.

Some airlines do the right thing and if you missed your choice at the first meal and make sure you get a choice at the next meal.

Some airlines (Air Canada) don’t care.

Should You Eat It?

I have heard that avoiding eating on the plane can help reduce jet lag.

Not advice I have followed as I welcome the meal as a break from the monotony of the flight.

A meal accompanied by a glass or two of wine also helps me sleep on the plane.

Special Meals

Some travellers have recommended ordering special meals even if you don’t need them.

Our experience though hasn’t been good .

My wife has a wheat allergy, and some of the Gluten Free meals have been very disappointing.

Travellers Hack

In my opinion the best chance of getting a good meal is to make your menu selection based on the airlines country of origin .

The chefs planning and cooking the meals are more likely to give that type of cuisine more attention.

Where Is the Car?

Have you ever had trouble finding your car at the airport?

One time when I was often travelling for work I went through Melbourne Airport on 9 consecutive days.

I had no idea where my car was by the end.

That is when I started using my camera phone to take a photo of the car park location.

Always make sure that either there is car park zone sign in the background of the picture, or take a photo of the nearest sign!

I have been using this travel hack for around six years and never lost a car since.

Turn ‘Lay Overs’ into ‘Stay Overs’

When you are travelling long haul you will normally need to stop at least once.

These ‘lay overs’ can be anything from an hour to 12+ hours.

Instead of hanging around the airport for hours why not book into a hotel for a couple of days and see a different city, or country.

Popular Stay Over Locations

Travelling from Australia to Europe I have had stay overs in :

Flying between Australia and North America I have stayed over at:

  • New Zealand
  • Hawaii
  • Los Angeles when flying from the East Coast of the USA.

Advantages of Stay Overs

  • An extra place to experience.
  • Helps reduce the effects of ‘Jet Lag’.
  • Two 8-10 hour flights with a couple of day rest in the middle are a lot easier on the body than 20 or more hours continuous travelling.
  • In some cases it can actually save you money.
  • Less stress about missing a connecting flight.

Saving Money

When you are planning a long haul flight don’t just look at direct flights look at flights that may take in another city close to the route.

Its not impossible on some routes to make up to a 40% saving, which could pay for a couple of nights hotel stay!

My Personal Stay Over Travel Hack

Having been caught out several times with immigration delays on entering the USA I now always arrange to stay over at least one day at the city that I fly into.

Impressed by Gatwick Airport

I flew into Gatwick Airport on an Emirates A380 a couple of days ago and was impressed by the experience.

From landing to being on a train to our final destination in 30 minutes.

Much less than the hour that I typically estimate to get out of an airport after an international flight.

We did WIN the carousel Lotto with our checked bags* being among the first few bags down the chute

Automatic Gates

The new automatic gates, with facial recognition technology, for those of us who have a chip passport were really slick.

Much better than the clunky two stage system installed at Australian Airports.

Automated Shuttle

The shuttle from the North Terminal to the South terminal was also very convenient .

It drops you a few steps away from the station which has frequent trains to London as well as the south coast, where we were heading.

Bad Point

The only criticism was that as you arrive in the baggage hall there is no visible message board telling you which carousel to go to.

We had to fight our way through a stream of passengers from another flight to find a board; which then told us to retrace our steps!

*Yes I did check in a bag, but we are travelling for five weeks, and I like to avoid wearing shirts too often.

Using Points for International Upgrades

I don’t consider using frequent flyer points for domestic flight upgrades as I can put up with an economy seat for 4 hours.

Long haul is a different matter and I have upgraded several times.

When Do You Get Upgraded?

Your request will only be processed in the day or two prior prior to the flight as they are hoping that there will be a late full fare booking to fill any vacant seats.

Often I have only found out I have been approved at check in.

Status Matters

Often there are more people wanting an upgrade with points than there are seats available.

Qantas along with every other airline gives first opportunity to higher status members.

So its first chance to Chairman’s Lounge members ; followed by Platinum One members, Platinum members, Gold members, then Silver and finally Bronze.

Other Factors

It is not really clear; but I believe that your fare class can influence your chances, with a budget fare booked months in advance being less likely to be allowed to upgraded than an expensive fare booked within a short time of the flight..

I’ve also found its often easier to get an upgrade for a single cabin level improvement so going from Economy to Premium Economy is easier than going from Economy to Business.