9 airlines with premium economy cabins worth splurging on

Written by Travel Adventures

For premium economy travellers, the perks start in the airport, with a separate check-in desk, larger carry-on bag allowance, and free seat selection. Inside the cabin, Emirates invoked the same design elements as the airline’s iconic business-class cabin, such as cream leather with stitching details and wood accents. Passengers also get a large throw pillow, six-way adjustable headrest, calf-and-foot rests, and an in-flight entertainment screen measuring 13.3 inches wide, as well as a dining table with side cocktail table, and charging ports.

As for in-flight dining, expect three-course dinners served on Royal Doulton china tableware with stainless steel cutlery. Emirates always includes a dish local to the flight’s destination on the premium economy menu – like Thai pepper beef with jasmine rice and pak choi. Top it all off with a complimentary glass of wine or something sparkly like the vintage 2012 Chandon – one of the array of drink selections from the business-class wine list not available in regular economy.

Premium economy seats on Qantas Airbus A380

Qantas’s premium economy seats rival some business-class offerings.

Courtesy Qantas


Australian carrier Qantas’s premium economy cabin – available on the airline’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners and on retrofitted Airbus A380s – is completely separate from regular economy with seats in a two-three-two layout. Seats are wider and have more legroom than coach, but they also feature wider armrests with storage compartments, two USB outlets, an ergonomic headrest, and a foot rest.

The “pièce de résistance,” according to Qantas, is the seat’s recline function. “As the passenger pushes back in the seat, several sections of the seat shift, not just the back,” says a description on the airline’s site. Instead of simply reclining backward, the seat moves forward and up, so your legs and back are slightly elevated in a more comfortable position.

Premium passengers are greeted with a complimentary sparkling wine, cocktail, or juice upon boarding. Meals are served on custom-designed tableware. Other in-flight amenities include noise-cancelling headphones, large pillow, 100 percent wool blanket, and a Napoleon Perdis–branded amenity kit. Passengers in the cabin also have access to a dedicated check-in counter and priority boarding.

All Nippon Airways

Fliers booked in premium economy class on All Nippon Airways will receive many of the same benefits as flying in the Japanese airline’s plush business class. On international flights, premium economy passengers are guaranteed access to ANA’s lounges at its major airports, including Haneda airport and Narita airport in Tokyo, Osaka’s Kansai airport, and the Honolulu airport. They also receive priority baggage handling.

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