difference between economy and premium economy

Recently I was trying to find some comprehensive data about different travel classes. I found what I was searching for on the Seatguru’s Airline Seat Comparison Charts. As I love numbers and data analysis, I took these figures to create some cool graphs to be able to show you what is the difference between economy and premium economy on long-haul flights.

There are also business class data available but I will skip them for now. I’m going to come back to this topic in a separate article about business class as this class is not comparable with the Economy class and Premium Economy class.

Before we start

Seatguru’s charts contain a comparison of 108 airlines – about some of these I didn’t know that they even exist 🙂 (and believe me, I know something about flying business).  I decided to do a funneling and pick the best representatives to get the clear picture. I decided to narrow the scope to the biggest airlines according to Wikipedia.

To analyze the data, we will focus on 7 factors which are:

  • Aircraft – manufacturer and type. Example: Airbus A330-200
  • Seat Pitch – represents the distance between two rows of seats (unit: cm – I had to rework the data little bit as Seatguru’s data are in inches)
  • Seat Width – represents the distance between the armrests of the seat (unit: cm as above)
  • Video Type – if there is any or which type (on demand, satellite etc.)
  • Laptop Power – the presence of a power socket
  • Power Type – AC which means normal socket / DC which is like the one in your car (round)
  • Wi-Fi – Yes / No
  • Seat Type – you can read in details on Seatguru’s seat guide, but for now all you need to know is that we will compare among:
    • Standard air seat
    • Recliner seat which reclines when you lower the chair’s back and raises its front

As you can see this comparison focus is on technical issues and space comfort. You will not find the comparison on food and drinks (but I’d love to read one 🙂 ).

Ok, so now we can start.

The difference between economy and premium economy…

General space comparison

As I appreciate more leg room and wider seats I was curious about the difference between economy and premium economy in seat pitch and seat width. This is the result of putting it together on individual values plot:

difference between economy and premium economy

difference between economy and premium economy

each dot represents airline’s aircraft model in a certain class (Economy or Premium Economy). As you can see both, Seat Pitch and Seat Width overlaps. Does it mean that some Economy Classes are equal to some Premium Economy in other cases? I was thinking that overlapping is coming from different aircraft types in airlines fleets and different seat types installed. So I wanted to check:

Space comparison by Aircraft type and Seat Type

Just for an explanation – green represents the highest values and red lowest, yellow is in the middle. The more green, the more space. This rule is valid for the next 5 charts.

difference between economy and premium economy

I was expecting less spread within single aircraft type, but as you can see it’s not so low 15 cm does the difference in seat pitch… What surprised me is that some Premium Economy offers Standard seats.

And what about Seat Width?

difference between economy and premium economy

also big range within one aircraft type.

Space comparison by Airline and Seat Type

Next, I wanted to know how does space issue looks like in breakdown on airline type. Again we see a big range between max and min values.

difference between economy and premium economy

difference between economy and premium economy

Look at Qantas standard seat width – it’s huge. Can anyone confirm if it’s really so big and a true standard seat?

Having these data it was quite easy to approach to resume of this topic and answer the question:

What is the best pick for Economy and Premium Economy class?

To pick the best, I had to specify my additional wishes in terms of other features:

  • Video Type – I want to have it on-demand
  • Laptop Power – yes, I want it 🙂
  • Power Type – I pick AC (normal socket)
  • Wi-Fi – sure Yes

and that’s what we get:

difference between economy and premium economy

Base on the data and looking at the above graph I can say that in:

  • Aeroflot
  • Air France
  • China Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • SAS

you will feel the difference between economy and premium economy. At least it will be more spacious, you will charge your laptop, use wifi and watch the movies you want.

It’s worth to notice that Delta has not too bad Economy – all the features included and some more space available than others.

Is it worth to pay extra money for Premium Economy?

It depends… 🙂 As you could see above, in some cases there is a significant difference between economy and premium economy within the airlines. Despite this, keep in mind that there is no defined standard for this class and the travel class is not the only way how you can improve your comfort during the long haul flight.

I personally tried Lufthansa and LOT Premium Economy and I appreciated more space and comfort.  But in the end, it’s all about money and you will have to answer the question – is it worth to pay this extra money?

Therefore, before you will hit the “Buy” button when booking your tickets, first check above comparison and then compare how much you will pay for this difference. I agree with Seatguru’s point of view – if the extra cost is 10-15% more than standard Economy, then take it – it’s worth

So, now you are ready to check the latest prices for premium economy deals. You can use Skyscanner search widget:  

difference between economy and premium economy

Featured image source: pixabay.com

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