Do you know the difference between Premium Economy and Economy Plus?

Leveled between Business and Economy Class, Premium Economy is a separate class of seating and service from standard Economy, which provides additional comfort and amenities. First adopted by British Airlines in the 1990’s, Premium Economy is currently offered by mostly European airlines. For business travelers not allowed to fly First or Business class, it allows them to travel more comfortably without falling out of policy. However, it is important to note that there is no industry standard for this fare class, which can lead to much confusion for travelers regarding what to expect.

What is the difference?

It is important to note that there is no Premium Economy class on domestic flights. Many airlines offer a service where they simply offer more legroom, called Economy Plus on United, Economy Comfort on Delta, and Main Cabin Extra on American. This can be the cause of some confusion due to the similarity of the names, but these additional legroom services can be purchased simply by paying an additional fee when you choose your seats.  Economy Plus is a completely different flight class, with a third separated cabin inside the aircraft, differentiated onboard and airport services. Premium Economy seats must be selected at the time of purchase, because they implicate an entirely different class of service, therefore they must be booked as such.

What to expect?

On international flights, expect your seat to be at about the same comfort level as a domestic first class seat. Additional benefits are in flight wireless connections, better meals and amenities that can extend to priority boarding, wider seats, more leg room, flexible change and cancellation policies, free checked bags, and free snacks and beverages.

How much does it cost?

Seatguru.com states that when booking a Premium Economy flight, the fare difference can range from 35-85% over your standard fare. When booking in advance, the fare class tends to be significantly more expensive than general Economy (85%). However, when booking closer to the departure date, it is generally 35% more expensive than the general Economy fare.

When to book Premium Economy?

Firstly, make sure to research your specific flight and what amenities are offered on it, since benefits vary by aircraft. The table below illustrates multiple airlines and their Premium Economy offerings. If you are a business traveler not allowed to fly First or Business class, take advantage of this fare class to bump up your comfort level. American Airlines recently announced it will be offering a new Premium Economy class on international flights, which is also worth checking out.

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