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Get ready for premium economy

According to Businessweek, there's gold in them thar seats. More so than business. Slightly wider seats, more legroom, deeper recline, bigger screens, somewhat better food. I would just caution that there doesn't yet seem to be a single standard for what constitutes PE, so always check with Seatguru and do some Google before paying extra. And there also also classes between economy and PE so beware the marketing.

bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-01/premium-economy-seating-grows-as-airlines-see-less-business-travel

Posted by
5360 posts

Yes, I noticed this. I have a Delta flight in mid-November to Amsterdam. When I looked up the seating chart I was surprised to see Delta One, Delta Premium Select, Comfort Plus, and Main, which also includes Basic Economy. A mind-boggling array of seating and classes.

Oddly enough, not sure if people are just confused about what Premium Select is, but Delta One is over half booked, Comfort Plus about half booked, Main is lightly filled...but Basic Economy has not been assigned seats yet; and Premium Select is basically empty.

Delta does not upgrade into Delta One (except maybe Diamond), I guess I will see if they do to Premium Select. To purchase an upgrade was not too bad, maybe $300-$400, but I am fine with the upgrade to Comfort Plus.

Posted by
4764 posts

There are more "classes" than you can shake a stick at now, and lots of different names for them. I generally fly premium economy, or whatever they call it, on long hauls. Mostly it's about the legroom, I could care less about screen size and I haven't noticed any difference in food (or much food at all lately). I agree with phred's advice to check Seatguru to see what you're getting for those extra dollars.

Congress has been unable to require the FAA to set standards for seat dimensions, so it's the the airlines' Wild West for creative titles and symbols, meaning whatever they want them to. Not to mention extra charges for seat selection, checked bags, and whatever else they can think of.

Posted by
5360 posts

Just comparing seating, on a Delta A350, seating is a 3-3-3 arrangement mostly, in Premium Select it is 2-4-2, so splitting a standard width seat among 8 seats roughly, so maybe a couple inches wider seats.

Posted by
62 posts

I'm flying Premium Economy on Air France next month from DTW to CDG. More than anything the smaller cabin with less chaos is what is appealing. Unfortunately my flight back from FRA to DTW was cancelled so no Premium on the flight to ATL.

If I can be a little more comfortable and enjoy a more intimate cabin, I may be a convert.

Posted by
27 posts

I’m hoping to fly Delta Premium Select from ATL to CDG next May, but no Premium Select seats are currently offered on that route. Seems strange since Atlanta and Paris are major hubs for Delta. Any ideas?

Posted by
12539 posts

Congress has been unable to require the FAA to set standards for seat
dimensions

And thats a bad thing? More variety, more choices to fit your need and budget. I happen to like Turkish Air's lack of identifier, just pay a few bucks more on which ever leg you want for a better seat.

Posted by
123 posts

Pre pandemic we used to take a lot of the Asian cheap airlines (Air Asia and similar)- they tend to fly jets which are 3-4-3 seating (one class). You can pay extra for extra row seats - but the seats are narrower because the tray table goes in the arm and sometimes they don't recline. They then started giving us offfers to buy the 3rd seat- that was a game changer - so much more comfortable.

I'm eyeing up Hawaiian Airlines comfort class seats - which have more leg room - for an 8 hour flight to HNL out of NZ next year.

Posted by
81 posts

I strongly suggest that anyone considering "Premium Economy" really research the airline and plane being flown. As noted above the standards are HUGHLY different between airlines. As an example United (EDIT: they recently changed in Late 2018 into 2019) it is a coach seat with a little more leg room. On Virgin Atlantic the seat is 21 in wide. Yes, 21. And that makes it an inch wider than many lay flat seats used by United in Business.

Air France uses a very strange seat that does not tilt but slightly rotates..some folks love it..some (me) hate it with a passion and would throw a free ticket in the trash then ever have to suffer those seats again (Air France may be changing their seats on some places-good for them).

So please do not judge the 'class' by one trip...this really is the wild west category and you need to research it, deeply. Pick right and you will have a great flight, pick wrong and you are throwing away money.

Posted by
921 posts

Another consideration is that Delta's "Premium Select" tickets are seldom refundable while "Comfort +" can be made refundable.

Do you have a source for this?

Posted by
329 posts

Eric, disregard my deleted post.
I've actually discovered that I can indeed purchase refundable premium select at varying degrees of affordability. There's a blurb at https://upgradedpoints.com/travel/airlines/delta-premium-select-vs-delta-one/ that says:


Cancellation and Refunds

Most Delta Premium Select seats will be non-refundable. Only the most expensive Delta Premium Select tickets will be refundable, and the ticket terms are stated when you purchase the ticket, either on the phone or on Delta.com.


It doesn't appear to be true now aside from the "most expensive" description.

Posted by
7687 posts

Yeah! Air France has put new, cushy reclining seats in the A350 Premium Economy. They also have leg rests like a reclining chair, just the way business class used to have. Daytime flights west are fine in PE.
Per our Delta receipt, PE also has priority check in, 2 checked suitcases, lounge access, priority luggage, but we won't get to take advantage of any of that because we are checking in at a regional airport and have tight connections in both France and the US. At least there will be champagne to drink

Posted by
329 posts

The premium select seats on Delta's A350 have become nearly essential for me and my partner. We can often get the 2 seat section but even the less private 4 seat portion is fine if we can get D-E together or F-G together. (E and F together mean probably bothering a stranger to get up). Being able to raise legs really helps circulation and I appreciate the less claustrophobic space. There's so much to recommend this section - the dedicated overhead, early boarding, etc. The only real drawback is the loss of under-the-seat storage but that's necessary for the leg rest.

We were lucky to get a promotional price on premium select seats when they were first offered on the A350 flagship to Amsterdam several years ago. Unfortunately the price has since risen as people have become more willing to spend for the better experience but it's still worthwhile for us. We were miserable the last time we were forced into the main bulkhead seats.

I was glad to learn that Delta purchased 2 more A350's. It's our favorite plane.

Posted by
50 posts

In September I booked Rt flights from MSP to BCN, through AMS for late April, 2022 on Delta. At that time, the equipment was an A330-300.

Looking at my flight info today (they had already changed departure times last month, a difference of 10 minutes change in schedules), they are 'now' flying an A330-900neo. My carefully chosen seats in Delta Comfort+ are now less desirable. I've got refundable tickets, though I'd like to now upgrade to Premium Select... Unless this all changes again.

Last time I had chosen Delta Premium Select (an A350 that time) was for my Portugal trip in 2020 that never happened, of course.

Posted by
145 posts

@dplaunderville: Not certain what your experience with United was. I flew BRU->IAH in "United Premium Plus" Sept 2019. Wide seat/recliner comparable to domestic 1st. Amenities kit, real food on china, glassware, metal flatware and cloth napkin.

Posted by
1277 posts

I think the key point, as others have said, is to understand what your airline means by "premium". I have flown medium haul in real PE (seperate cabin, better seats, perhaps other perks like food), and it is definitely a step up from economy, but hardly at the flatbed business level I'd want for long haul. I've also seen airlines that use "premium" for what is no more than a bog standard economy seat in a slightly better area such as in the emergency exit row.

In the end "premium" could mean anything, but is not going to be as as good as the higher classes on the same plane, let alone as nice as the private aeroplanes all the hypocritical wankers have been using flying into COP26.

As a rule of thumb, I think if there are only three classes then PE is treated by the airline as the middle one and is fairly good. But if there are four classes, then the airline views PE as an improvement on steerage, but not considered proper posh.

Posted by
223 posts

Silas, can you please comment on the lack of underseat storage with Delta premium economy? I assume this means during takeoff and landing even a small backpack must be stored in the overhead bin? What about during the flight: if you don't use your footrest, is there room to place a small backpack on the floor in front of your seat?

Posted by
921 posts

Unless you're in the bulkhead row, Delta's Premium Select seats do have storage available under the seats in front of you.

Posted by
329 posts

Elizabeth, it's hard to describe. The A350's "premium select" section of 48 seats are described as "no under seat storage" when you select seats at Delta's site. There's a leg and foot rest that completely encloses the space under your seat. We were able to put small personal bags sort of under the seat in front of us but it can make it difficult for someone to get by you. Scroll down in this article for a picture that looks down at the floor in front of you: https://thepointsguy.com/reviews/delta-premium-select-is-it-worth-it/ The person in the photo has very short legs. Of course the bulkhead row looks different and has a smaller screen since it pulls out of the seat.

Posted by
81 posts

"Not certain what your experience with United was. I flew BRU->IAH in "United Premium Plus" "

A half decade of flying with them before abandoning them. I was also speaking to United's Premium Economy. You are referencing a new class: "United Premium Plus" as my post stated--do not judge one airline/flight. You have to research the airline and Plane you are flying. They all update and change. An internet search indicated United moved to this upper level Economy Plus in late 2018 - 2019 as they began changing over some planes). Again, the lesson is research your Airlie and flight equipment before booking.

Posted by
145 posts

Seat Guru (http://www.seatguru.com) is your friend. You can enter an airline, flight number and date and it will show you the layout and give you specific seat reviews. E.g., window misaligned, seat restricted recline, close to galley/toilets, etc.

Airlines switch out equipment on routes all the time, and not all planes have the same layout. When I booked my (sadly cancelled) flights to Italy last December the SFO/FRA legs were on a United 777-300ER with (true) Polaris Business and Premium Economy, Economy Plus (extra legroom), and Standard Economy seats. I had picked seats in Polaris Business (1-2-1 across). Early spring the plane was swapped to a 787-9 with the old layout, business seats were the old style (narrower 2-2-2 across) and no Premium Economy. Mid-summer it switched back to the 777-300ER as demand improved. (United claims its remaining old layout 787-9s will be re-configured by this summer).

Unfortunately if they switch the plane they may re-map your seat selection but you may not get what you thought you had when you originally booked. As others have noted above with Delta, this is not limited to United. When the equipment was switched out, my seats moved, seemingly at random. The only thing you can do is check your booking every week-- most airlines post their flight changes on Saturday, so check every Sunday or Monday morning. If you paid for a Premium seat the the equipement change eliminated that class you should be due a refund for the fare difference.