The rise of premium economy: balancing savings and satisfaction
While premium economy class has existed for many years, its global availability is expanding as
carriers increasingly recognize the yield opportunities an additional, premium class of service can
provide. Delta Air Lines is the most recent carrier to adopt this approach, recently announcing
that, by summer 2011, its new “Economy Comfort” class will be available on all long-haul
international routes; also, United Airlines announced over the next several years it will extend
its premium economy class, “Economy Plus,” to recently acquired Continental Airlines. While
specific offerings vary, premium economy generally provides travelers some of the amenities
typically available in business class, not all, at a considerably lower price, making it a great
potential compromise between traveler convenience and cost, and certainly an option worth
considering in a travel program.
Premium economy offerings differ by region and by carrier, but typically include several additional inches of legroom, seat width and recline; some level of complimentary food and beverage service; access to power outlets; and additional entertainment options. While several carriers, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, have implemented premium economy across their entire fleets, availability is more limited on most carriers, which offer a premium economy configuration on newer aircraft only and/or limit this service to long-haul, international flights.
As the availability of premium economy grows, travel buyers have another viable option for meeting the needs of their program and travelers. This additional class of service can enable a more tiered approach to matching trip specifics, such as flight length and overnight travel, with the best cost option and maximized traveler comfort and productivity.