Airline passengers are familiar with economy class, business class and first class as nearly every airline uses these terms to categorize their services. However, premium economy, although unpopular among passengers in the past, is expected to have high potential in the future trend of aviation.

What are premium economy seats?

Premium economy seats usually offer larger and more comfortable space than economy seats. Premium economy seats have greater space between rows, giving passengers more legroom space while allowing the front seats to fall back more. Furthermore, as the premium economy seat is about five to seven centimeters wider, the TV screen for entertainment mounted on the back of the seat will also be larger in size compared to the economy seat.

Besides, the number of premium economy seats in a row will also be less than that of economy seats. For example, a Boeing 777 or an Airbus A380 has only eight premium economy seats in a row while the number of economy seats per row is ten.

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Regarding passenger’s flying experience, some airlines include certain in-flight amenities and services, which are not available in economy class, in the premium economy ticket. These offers will vary depending on each airline’s regulations. Some airlines also offer premium economy passengers a number of priority services such as free seat reservations, priority boarding, or even increased luggage allowance compared to economy class.

British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Qantas, Scandinavian Airlines, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, and Cathay Pacific are considered to have the best premium economy quality, according to the travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler. In addition, Air New Zealand is considered to have the most legroom.

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According to some airlines that offer premium economy class such as British Airways or Virgin Atlantic, the average profit per square foot of the premium economy is the highest among all their cabins on the airplane. In Vietnam, the flag carrier Vietnam Airlines also announced that it would add a premium economy cabin on its Airbus A321neo aircraft.

These show that most airlines are aware of the potential that premium economy seats can bring to them. In the coming time, it is very likely that this potential to be exploited when travel and tourism are resumed.

Why will premium economy seats be the hottest option this year?

In addition to opting for the premium economy based on the advanced services it offers, travelers are expected to fly in premium economy seats most frequently after they are allowed to travel again for the following reasons:

First, after a year of travel restrictions and air travel ban, the flying demand from passengers was pent up. Therefore, once allowed to fly again, passengers will tend to use their existing membership points to upgrade their seats in order to enjoy a better flight service than usual. In addition, airlines have also extended their membership point to earn their customers’ loyalty, and travelers will take advantage of this to upgrade the flight services into a premium economy.

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Second, "social distancing" gradually becomes an unspoken and ingrained regulation on travelers’ minds. Compared to the economy compartment, the premium economy cabin offers wider and more-distanced seats, giving passengers a sense of safety and confidence in maintaining a certain distance from other passengers in the same compartment. In addition, upgrading to premium economy seats will also help passengers stay in a lesser-density space than an economy class without spending as much money as buying tickets in business class or first class.

Third, premium economy seats will not only become popular among leisure travelers but also be a preferred choice for more business travelers. From the corporate perspective, after going through the crisis means businesses will tend to tighten their spending to minimize costs. Therefore, when sending employees on business trips, businesses are more likely to choose premium economy seats over their former choice, business class. This results in an enormous increase in the number of business travelers using premium economy seats in the future.

Source: Destination Review

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