I never mentioned it on the blog, but when I flew to Copenhagen in June, getting there I traveled in style-Air Canada’s Premium Economy Class style. And lest you think that theirs is like the meager United Airlines Economy Plus offerings, think again. Yes, it costs scores more than United’s, but honestly, if you have the money, I definitely think it’s worth it.
So I thought I would offer a post for anyone who’s considering it.
What it is
On Air Canada’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, certain routes offer Premium Economy seating (for the list of all the routes, click here). If you know anything about the aviation industry, you’ll know that the Boeing 787s are the newest and largest aircraft to hit the commercial flying skies, and so these aircraft are beautifully sleek and uber new everything (i.e. nothing like the horrendously outdated planes that travel between the United States mainland and Hawaii).
There are innumerable benefits one gets from booking a premium economy seat but here are the main ones in my opinion:
- greater recline (17.8 cm/7 in) and a larger seat compared to economy class
- a 96.5 cm/38 in seat pitch (i.e. plenty of room to truly stretch one’s legs)
- an increased baggage allowance (you get two free checked bags; in economy only your first one is free)
To me it was like second class on ocean liners back in the day-scores better than third class (i.e. economy) but not to the degree of first class or business.
What I liked
Unlike on United flights in which economy plus seats are still in the coach section, premium economy seats are in their own section (between business and economy). When we boarded and I stopped at our seats, D was incredulous that we were in the right section because in many ways they resemble a business class area since they are separate.
It’s also a small section-on the flight from Toronto to Copenhagen, they only sat about 30 people versus in regular economy where you board your flight and your eyes see nothing but endless rows. It definitely allows for a more intimate experience, one where you don’t feel surrounded for hours by copious numbers of strangers.
I loved the personal service feel-this included everything from the menu we were given of our dinner meal (if you fly economy, you know this is something that never happens) to the hot towel we were given to clean our hands to even having a small tablecloth draped over our tray table. It really made you feel as if you were not the human equivalent of cattle being shipped in a stock car. Everyone was also given an amenity kit which is something I had never received before when flying-it was lovely to have articles like a sleep mask, socks, and travel size hand lotion, lip balm and toothpaste.
What I didn’t like
Honestly nothing. My one big complaint had nothing to do with the premium economy service since it was the same for those traveling in economy and business. Flying over to Copenhagen, the on-demand entertainment service didn’t work…for the entire flight. Another one of the benefits touted is that the personal touch-screen TVs are bigger than the ones in the economy section-not that we got to use them…But as I said, this was just an unfortunate occurrence on the flight we were on, nothing to do with the premium economy level.
As you get many more benefits than just extra legroom, it does cost a lot more. But this will obviously depend on where you’re flying to and in my case, where you’re starting from (we first flew from Pittsburgh to Toronto where we then connected for our flight to Denmark). We also were traveling in June, which if you’re a seasoned traveler you’ll know is the start of the summer travel season and prices are a lot higher than in more off-peak times.
At the time I booked our tickets, I only splurged on premium economy for our flight over to Europe. I figured the extra leg room would be more worth it since it was an overnight flight versus during the day when I really don’t sleep or attempt to sleep. However, months after I had long paid off the credit card bill for the tickets, I thought to myself, well, it might be nice to travel in luxury style both ways. When I called Air Canada to upgrade our return tickets, I was stunned when I was told how expensive it would be-I thought it would be comparable to the price I had paid earlier. No. It was basically the cost of a brand new ticket; to this day I don’t understand how that could be. So I would recommend that if you’re interested in booking premium economy seats, book both ways when you’re buying your ticket.
Is it worth it?
Any flight that is over 5 hours is tough, and the more hours you add on is even tougher. So if you have the money and want to treat yourself, yes, I definitely think it’s worth the extra money. I have no idea if I’ll ever fly first class in my lifetime so it certainly gave me a smattering of what the slightly more pampered experience is like.
As for doing it again in the future, I definitely would love to try something like premium economy on a flight to Asia.