Tag Archives: Premium Economy

Premium economy is here to stay

It doesn’t look like much – just a few inches – but it can make a huge difference to your comfort on the next flight.  Airlines have realised that too – as they continue to squash bums into seats they have realised that those few little inches have become a money making option.

So what does it cost to upgrade to premium economy?  Well it is going to depend on your airline and route – just recently I paid around $200 extra for my KLM flight (that’s per segment) going overseas.    On multiple segment international itineraries you may find the upgrade costs could mount up to over $1800 per person.

So booking a premium economy seat is OK if you can afford it – if you can’t you may end up stuck next to a larger person who is pretty much enjoying your seat as well as their own.  A recent court case is on the go where a traveller is suing Etihad Airlines for depriving him of his comfort on his flight and causing him back problems.  It is easy to sympathise with him – also easy to sympathise with the larger person travelling on the flight.  Clearly airlines are going to have to start addressing this issue.

The other problem is that not all business classes are created equally.  Some offer lie flat beds – other offer albeit large seats that recline a lot but still leave you crumpled in a little bundle at the end of your seat.  It’s like sleeping on a hill!

Another cause of concern is the charge for baggage.  It’s a  nice little income stream for the airlines but it is causing non stop problems on flights where passengers take “carry on” to new limits.  We have all seen it.  One carry on and one personal items turns into two HUGE bags.  Sometimes you have to check that bag at the last minute – despite it containing fragile or valuables.

Bums in seats

It’s the airline mantra – just get bums in those seats and at least we are not flying at a loss.  But how do the bums feel about this?  Are they comfortable, squashed, numb, fidgety?  It’s all about the seats and that thing they call “pitch”.
(Distance between the back end of a seat and the front end of the seat behind it. Also called leg room. – courtesy of The Business Dictionary).seat-pitch-300x223

You won’t easily find this information on airline websites – and if you do please let me know because I looked in vain.  That’s why I think Seat Guru is the neatest web site out there and I always consult it when I fly.  www.seatguru.com has a list of just about every airline with all of their aircraft and display full seat maps with comments on each seat as to whether it is good, bad or horrible.  They have even made it easy by colour coding the seat map.  You can also read up some more about seat pitch in this excellent article by David Parker Brown at http://www.airlinereporter.com/2010/04/comparing-airline-seat-pitches-who-has-the-worst/

So it is no surprise that when airlines “cram ’em in” people get cranky, flight attendants get frustrated and bums get just plain fed up.  Would it really make such a difference in the bottom line or the profit margin to airlines if they gave just a couple of inches more leg room?

More airlines are offering Economy Premium or Economy Plus options which are available for an additional cost.  And you know what?  People are prepared to pay.  Well not all people.  On a recent KLM flight I had paid the additional fee to upgrade to Premium Economy – $200 per segment for a couple of inches but worth it on a long flight.  After take off some cheeky fellow sauntered up to the Premium Economy area and made himself comfortable in one of the unoccupied seats.  I could feel every paying passenger around me literally bristle at this audacity.  But never fear – the Dutch were on it!

“Excuse me, sir.  Can I see your boarding pass?  I am sorry sir.  Your boarding pass is for the economy seats.  This is premium economy.  Please return to your allocated seat.”

“Well there’s no-one sitting in this seat.  I can’t see why I can’t just sit here.  It’s really crowded back there.”

“I am sorry sir.  These seats are reserved for passengers who have paid an additional fee for them.  Please would you return to your allocated seat.”

“Well it’s very cramped there and I don’t see why I should spend the whole flight in discomfort when there is a perfectly good seat here.”

“You are most welcome to pay the additional fee for the economy premium seat sir.  I can process that to your credit card.”  (YES!!!)

“No thanks.  I have never had such bad service in my life.  I will NEVER fly KLM again.”  (Good riddance).