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Why Isn't Premium Economy More Popular/available?  
User currently offlineYTZ From Canada, joined Jun 2009, 1981 posts, RR: 24
Posted (2 years 6 months 2 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 9359 times:

Yesterday I had the pleasure of flying Comfort Class (Premium Economy) from IST to YYZ on THY as part of the return leg on my YYZ-BOM trip. On both the outbound and inbound legs of the trip, I noticed that Comfort Class was actually quite popular with lots of non-business types. There were families with young children, in Comfort Class, on both runs.

It made me wonder why Premium Economy isn't more popular in the airline industry? To me, this would really seem like an untapped market. The fact that families were booking this class, would seem to me, to show that there's a market for Premium Economy even for VFR traffic. On THY, the fare difference was only slightly higher for premium economy. The service level though, with the exception of the seat itself, was as good as J on many airlines. Seems to me this could be a win for both the airline (higher revenue) and passenger (more service at a reasonable rate). All this leaves me wondering why more airlines don't offer Y+?

Personally, THY and its Comfort Class offering might just have become my new default option for YYZ-BOM, even though Premium economy is offered only on YYZ-IST part of the trip. I can put up with a more cramped Y on an A330 from IST to BOM, if I know there's a nice wide seat for the 9-10hr YYZ-IST leg.

50 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineAvianca From Venezuela, joined Jan 2005, 5922 posts, RR: 40
Reply 1, posted (2 years 6 months 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 9289 times:

Quoting YTZ (Thread starter):
On THY, the fare difference was only slightly higher for premium economy

my ask how much the difference was?

Well I had so far feeling that the price difference is quite a lot hence not to much sence to book it.



Colombia es el Mundo Y el Mundo es Colombia
User currently offlinesydscott From Australia, joined Oct 2003, 2924 posts, RR: 20
Reply 2, posted (2 years 6 months 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 9090 times:

Quoting Avianca (Reply 1):
Well I had so far feeling that the price difference is quite a lot hence not to much sence to book it.

My experience in Premium Economy has also been positive although I've never paid for a ticket, I've only been upgraded into it. QF's is quite nice on a long haul flight, BA's is ok but nothing special. For QF there is about a $1,500 difference in fare between economy and premium economy most of the time but if you can get it on points I think it's a great way to fly. Not as good as business but still much more comfortable than economy!


User currently offlinesrbmod From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (2 years 6 months 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 9040 times:

Some airlines are beginning to finally explore that market. DL has started rolling out their Economy Comfort product domestically after rolling it out on their international longhaul fleet and plans to have their entire mainline fleet (as well as Delta Connection a/c that feature a two-class cabin) fitted with this product by this summer.

Here in the US, there are airlines that do feature some form of a premium economy product domestically (although in some cases, it's more legroom in comparison to the regular economy without any other additional perks):

VX (Main Cabin Select)
F9 (STRETCH seating)
B6 (Even More Space)
UA (Economy Plus)


User currently offlinespacecadet From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 3610 posts, RR: 12
Reply 4, posted (2 years 6 months 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 8982 times:

For me, true premium economy is too expensive for what you get. For example, I'm currently in the middle of figuring out booking for a trip to Japan. JAL's economy fare from JFK-NRT is $1,156 (including taxes), while their premium economy is about $2,600. That's not really a good value for what you get, in my opinion. It's like they're pricing it based on just picking some arbitrary number between economy and business, rather than considering what the extras you get are actually worth to the consumer. (It may just be that there is no such thing as "discounted" premium economy, but still, that's semantics in terms of practical reality.)

I definitely would, however, consider something like Delta's economy comfort. All I really want is the extra legroom, and I will pay extra for that. Just not more than double the regular economy fare. Delta's got other problems on this route, however...

I feel like most people who would go for premium economy are like me. Airlines are never going to be able to offer extras in any sort of economy class that are worth a more than $1,000 premium. Premium Economy will never be considered a true class in between economy and business - it's always going to be economy with a couple extra inches of legroom and maybe free drinks (if they're not already offered - they are on JAL in economy) and priority boarding. I just can't see how that's worth $1,450 extra.

Give me 4 extra inches of legroom and charge me an extra couple hundred bucks on this route, though, and I will pay it.

[Edited 2012-01-17 13:35:40]


I'm tired of being a wanna-be league bowler. I wanna be a league bowler!
User currently offlineFlyPNS1 From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 6579 posts, RR: 24
Reply 5, posted (2 years 6 months 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 8935 times:

The big fear airlines have with Premium Economy is that it might erode too much of their high-yield business traffic. Right now, there is such a stark difference on long-haul between J/C and Y, that many business travelers cough up the substantial fare premium to be comfortable and productive. However, if you have a good Y+ product many business travelers (and their companies) might save the money and only take Y+. This is why some carriers (like DL and UA) have kept Y+ pretty bare bones (basically just some more legroom) with the hopes that most business travelers won't downgrade to that from J/C.

Of course, the hope is that you'll get more buy-ups from Y to Y+ to offset any loss, but I don't know if all the airlines feel comfortable with that math.


User currently offlineDualQual From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 756 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (2 years 6 months 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 8895 times:

Quoting sydscott (Reply 2):
I've never paid for a ticket, I've only been upgraded into it

If this is the rule moreso than the exception, that is why few carriers offer it. I am not saying don't upgrade anyone, but if it is not generating additional revenue over the expense of installing/maintaining it than carriers won't offer it.


User currently offlineGSPSPOT From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3009 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (2 years 6 months 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 8733 times:

Good on DL for at least attempting it! It's kind of a hybrid between UA's Economy Plus and true PE. In addition to more legroom and nominally better seat recline, DL also includes free spirits (at least on international flights). I don't know about UA's product, but DL's also includes boarding before regular economy, etc.


Finally made it to an airline mecca!
User currently offlinesandyb123 From UK - Scotland, joined Oct 2007, 1073 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (2 years 6 months 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 8734 times:
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Quoting FlyPNS1 (Reply 5):
Of course, the hope is that you'll get more buy-ups from Y to Y+ to offset any loss, but I don't know if all the airlines feel comfortable with that math.

I think that you're absolutely correct here.

Some airlines have been squeezing more space out of their Business cabins and bringing down the cost of J instead of introducing a 'middle ground'.

The dog leg J seating that's starting to appear (EK &CZ spring to mind) means that they can reduce J fares by squeezing more into the same space. For me, trading a bit of space, whilst still getting a flat bed, the service and a lot more space is worth the slightly reduced J fares that this format offers.

Take for example a route I fly maybe twice a year from GLA-JNB/CPT. EK economy comes in about £700, EK Business comes in about £1600 and F is over £3k. So I'll take the J fare. Compare that to BA which is looking for £2300 for J and involves a short hop to LHR then a ULH to CPT makes the EK attractive, even if it's 3 hours longer.

I don't see the point in Y+ It's another cabin option which introduces more choice and less profit.

Sandyb123



DC3, 727, 737, 744, 753, 777, A32X, A345, A388, ERJ145, E190, BaE146, D328, ATR72, Q400
User currently offlinesydscott From Australia, joined Oct 2003, 2924 posts, RR: 20
Reply 9, posted (2 years 6 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 8677 times:

Quoting DualQual (Reply 6):
If this is the rule moreso than the exception, that is why few carriers offer it. I am not saying don't upgrade anyone, but if it is not generating additional revenue over the expense of installing/maintaining it than carriers won't offer it.

Well it does depend on how much the Frequent Flyer Program generates in profits for the airline. At QF it's Frequent Flyer Program generated EBIT of $342 million in 2010/2011 so at a group level it is more than likely cash flow positive. The 3 times I was upgraded were;

- SYD-LAX - The 744 was oversold in economy.

- SYD-SFO - The 744 operating the service was sold as 3 classes but was operated by a 4 class aircaft. So people were moved around based on QF Club and FF status.

- SYD-FRA - The 744 was oversold in economy.

In my experience the people who are actually paying for Premium Economy are older, retired people travelling for pleasure and small/medium enterprise people who don't have the budget for business class but who don't want to travel in economy.


Quoting spacecadet (Reply 4):
Premium Economy will never be considered a true class in between economy and business - it's always going to be economy with a couple extra inches of legroom and maybe free drinks (if they're not already offered - they are on JAL in economy) and priority boarding

I don't know. If you have a look at the QF product there is a clear distinction between the economy and premium economy. On the A380 you have 2 - 4 - 2 seating rather than 3 - 4 - 3 in bigger chairs, which recline more, with more legroom, your own dedicated snack area along with business class style meals, drinks and IFE. So it's a hibrid class between the two. Is it worth an extra $1,500? For the average punter probably not. But again if the FF scheme profits can subsidise the expense of providing the seats then on a group level, if it's cash flow positive, it's worthwhile.


User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 24891 posts, RR: 22
Reply 10, posted (2 years 6 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 8644 times:

Quoting spacecadet (Reply 4):
For me, true premium economy is too expensive for what you get

Agree. I flew BA premium economy LHR-YYZ-LHR last October only because I was redeeming FFP miles and BA had a special 50% discounted redemption offer where you only had to burn half the usual miles. It was well under half full on a 744. I think J class had a higher load factor than premium Y. I would never pay the fare difference BA wants if I was paying the full fare. The difference can often be 2 or 3 times the lowest Y fare.

On the other hand, I would pay the difference for KLM's "Economy Comfort" service on widebodies (much like UA's Y+) with several rows of Y seats at the front with about 4 inches greater pitch, more recline, and a reasonable surcharge over any Y fare.

As someone else said, carriers like BA have to be careful with premium economy. With companies cutting back on business travel costs, there's a risk passenges will downgrade to premium economy. And there are many routes where there's little demand for a true premium economy product, meaning you lose revenue from Y seats you could have sold due to the space taken up by the premium Y seats.

The KLM type of product (like UA's Y+) is easier for a much larger number of passengers to justify than a true separate premium Y class and you're not going to lose more than one row of Y seats to had a few rows of Y+.


User currently offlineglbltrvlr From United States of America, joined Oct 2007, 699 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (2 years 6 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 8643 times:

Quoting FlyPNS1 (Reply 5):
The big fear airlines have with Premium Economy is that it might erode too much of their high-yield business traffic. Right now, there is such a stark difference on long-haul between J/C and Y, that many business travelers cough up the substantial fare premium to be comfortable and productive.

I'm sure the airlines have the numbers to support that position, but I would point out that many companies have banned business class tickets for everyone except the C suite. I work for a Fortune 50 and that's the case for us and I'm sure we're not the only ones.


User currently offlinedfambro From United States of America, joined Nov 2009, 314 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (2 years 6 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 8548 times:

Speaking for myself and a large number of UA elites - it's hard to imagine switching allegiance to a carrier like AA if it means giving up the extra legroom perk. I'm sure Smisek found that he'd have a mass exodus of elites if he chose not to keep Y+ in the merged airline.

I've been surprised that UA's Y+ didn't cause the other major airlines to copy the strategy.


User currently offlinekent350787 From Australia, joined May 2008, 962 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (2 years 6 months 2 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 8434 times:

I suppose the move to premium economy depends on how long haul your long haul is. QF has found premium economy demand so strong for its flights to the US that Y+ seat numbers are being/have been increased.

For me as a taller person, Y+ is a great price/space compromise for a 12-16 hour flight!

But how many airlines have a significant number of 14-16hr flights in their schedule?


User currently offlineseabosdca From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 5316 posts, RR: 4
Reply 14, posted (2 years 6 months 2 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 8391 times:

Quoting spacecadet (Reply 4):
For me, true premium economy is too expensive for what you get. For example, I'm currently in the middle of figuring out booking for a trip to Japan. JAL's economy fare from JFK-NRT is $1,156 (including taxes), while their premium economy is about $2,600. That's not really a good value for what you get, in my opinion.

   For me, this seems true whether I'm paying or whether a client is paying. A PE seat is not going to get me there rested and ready to work after an overnight flight the way a J seat is, which is the only reason I can justify billing premium travel to a client.

Quoting dfambro (Reply 12):
I've been surprised that UA's Y+ didn't cause the other major airlines to copy the strategy.

DL absolutely copied the strategy...


User currently offlinecmf From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (2 years 6 months 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 8290 times:

Quoting seabosdca (Reply 14):
A PE seat is not going to get me there rested and ready to work after an overnight flight the way a J seat is, which is the only reason I can justify billing premium travel to a client.

How much do you charge per day? I would probably give you a free day day instead.


User currently offlinecloudboy From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 807 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (2 years 6 months 2 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 8109 times:

I think we are still in an experimentation period with the concept, but I think more airlines are starting to look into it. There are two different animals - Y+ and Premium Economy. But marketing them as different is tricky, and the airlines themselves have difficulty in grasping it - I still think many of them forget people are three dimensional creatures.

What makes it really difficult is fitting it into current structures. Domestically you cant really differentiate Premium Economy from First, particularly in Europe. The Y+ does fit in nicely, and so has made a lot more inroads. True Premium Economy gets particularly tricky as many airlines got into the 2 class product, which didn't provide enough differentiation. When they do start introducing a premium economy product, I think many airlines too quickly drop into the 3 class mentality, pricing their premium economy product as a business product. People are unhappy with coach, but unwilling to pay a super high premium for something better. As stated above, the perceived value just isn't there.

Airlines need to figure out their structure, and (hopefully) realize that the model isn't an all-or-nothing price. Once they figure out most people look at the actual cost as the lowest fare they find, NOT what publish full coach fare is, I think you will find it becoming much more popular.



"Six becoming three doesn't create more Americans that want to fly." -Adam Pilarski
User currently offlinefiscal From Australia, joined Oct 2009, 319 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (2 years 6 months 2 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 8050 times:

Quoting FlyPNS1 (Reply 5):
The big fear airlines have with Premium Economy is that it might erode too much of their high-yield business traffic

I think you are right, and that is why prices are usually higher than expected for the additional benefits.

Quoting sydscott (Reply 2):
For QF there is about a $1,500 difference in fare between economy and premium economy

Not my experience. PER - LHR - PER in March. Y = $2194 Y+ = $4666 ($2452 Difference)

Which is sad really, as there are some of us that need the extra leg room and space, but cannot afford it at those prices. You are better to fly to SIN and catch EY business for a few extra dollars.


User currently offlinetimpdx From United States of America, joined exactly 5 years ago today! , 531 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (2 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 8025 times:

I pulled the trigger on one of my DL legs LAX to Haneda just a couple of weeks ago. It was $120 extra O/W. That was a fair and reasonable price, IMO, and at that price would probably do it again, at least on one of the longer legs on an international flight.

User currently offlinefrmrcapcadet From United States of America, joined May 2008, 1710 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (2 years 6 months 2 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 7909 times:

Quoting FlyPNS1 (Reply 5):
The big fear airlines have with Premium Economy is that it might erode too much of their high-yield business traffic.

The crux of the problem. Make economy so dam* uncomfortable that those who can afford it (have points to spare) will upgrade, and those who can't will just fly less. Offer 15-25 % more space and charge something close to 15-25% more fare and many of us might be less cynical. I can do without the meals, IFE, free drinks, but really want a little extra room.



Buffet: the airline business...has eaten up capital...like..no other (business)
User currently offlinekoruman From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 7602 times:

Quoting spacecadet (Reply 4):
Premium Economy will never be considered a true class in between economy and business - it's always going to be economy with a couple extra inches of legroom and maybe free drinks

I think you're confusing Economy Plus with Premium Economy.

Both Air New Zealand and Virgin Atlantic state that their Premium Economy cabin is more profitable than their Business class cabin on long-haul routes.

The NZ formula is really simple, as follows for new deliveries:

1. Fares are double those of discount Economy, and half those of lie-flat Business class.
2. Food and drinks are the same as those in Business Class.
3. Each seat has in-seat power, and multi-channel AVOD.
4. The seats are superior to domestic First Class in the USA, with 38-42 inch pitch. But the one-way fare on a Europe-Australia ticket is not very different to a trans-continental First Class fare in the USA.



When I'm travelling long-haul for an employer, I'm often placed in Premium Economy on day flights.

When I'm travelling long-haul leisure with my wife and kids, I almost always buy Premium Economy tickets. Why?

1. Great product for the money (see above).
2. Only need half as many miles to upgrade to lie-flat Business Class as I would from economy class.
3. The product is all I could possibly need on a daytime flight like LHR-LAX. Even if I paid extra for a Business Class lie-flat bed I probably wouldn't even set it up on a day flight.


User currently offlineAirbusA6 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2005, 2011 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 7259 times:

Our company changed its rules, so that travellers can only use Business on the eastbound overnight transatlantic flights, and have to go PE on the westbound daytime flights, I wonder if other companies have done this?


it's the bus to stansted (now renamed national express a4 to ruin my username)
User currently offlinerichardw From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 3746 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 7226 times:

4 empty seats at the back of a widebody for the price of an off peak economy seat is a bargain.

I've always thought economy passengers want to fly PE and Business want to fly a best business product and then an airline goes and does this

http://hongkongairlinesclub.co.uk/seating_plan.html


User currently offlinehohd From United States of America, joined May 2008, 397 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 6815 times:

CO's new premium economy is a joke. Not sure about UA's economy plus, hope that it is better than CO's. All you get is a few inches of leg room, 2 bags to check in for free (instead of 1 bag on a trans atlantic) but the seats have the same width, so you still feel cramped and food/beverages are same as in Y (no free alcohol drinks either).

For me, the seat width is more important than leg room.


User currently offlineRDH3E From United States of America, joined Mar 2011, 1614 posts, RR: 3
Reply 24, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 6575 times:

Quoting richardw (Reply 22):
I've always thought economy passengers want to fly PE and Business want to fly a best business product and then an airline goes and does this

"Club Premier will feature luxury suites in a 1-2-1 configuration which convert from a superbly comfortable seat to a fully flat 6'1" bed."

6'1" is not nearly long enough for a flat bed...


25 poLOT : "CO's" new premium economy is UA's Y+. Yes it is only Y with additional legroom, but it is priced accordingly (and I believe is free for elites), so
26 airbazar : Because pax are unwilling to pay for it. Premium economy exists to give "free" upgrades to valued frequent fliers. Sure, there's always the occasiona
27 LAX888 : I prefer to shop around and get a good deal in Business class instead of buying PE, which is usually not worth the price. If you are smart and flexibl
28 glbltrvlr : That was the first restriction for us. Then we went to no Business Class unless the legs were 10 hours or longer. Now it's no Business Class period.
29 hohd : I dont think CO's pricing is good either. On a recent MAN-EWR flight, they wanted $450 for an upgrade to premium economy (I got the so called upgrade
30 YTZ : I booked last minute and paid about $2000. The difference was about $400 at the time. This was just 2 weeks before leaving in December. I just checke
31 YTZ : This. For all this talk about airlines being sensitive to regular J clients downgrading, surely, they must also be realizing that many of their regul
32 YTZ : I find several points interesting in this thread. Clearly, the price differentials vary massively. On TK, the difference was a few hundred dollars. I
33 RDH3E : That's odd. I thought UA's standard TATL fee was $129.00 at the gate (each way).
34 richardw : That's 1" longer than BA's new club world bed.
35 airbazar : How do you know how much they paid for it, or even if they paid at all? I have bough last minute Y tickets that were definitely more expensive than a
36 LHCVG : That's been my thought about why UA (and now DL) went where they did - that they can get x greater revenue from doing nothing more than removing y ro
37 YTZ : Sure. But generally speaking, if they've booked Y+, then it's quite likely that they had a cheaper Y alternative at the time. How often do you see Y
38 frmrcapcadet : Sooner or later government regulation may require some seats a few inches wider, and some seats with 4 inches more pitch, etc. and that they be propor
39 tullamarine : Can we get a list of those airlines that have introduced proper Premium Economy classes, not the cheap Y+ products in the USA. I have QF VA BA VS NZ A
40 Viscount724 : Was Y class full on those flights? If so, those families may have been upgrades from Y paying nothing for the premium Y seat. You would be surprised
41 Post contains images fbgdavidson : Well for each individual consumer that price point is going to be different. There are some people that won't pay a penny more for any comfort, where
42 YTZ : The family that I spoke did buy their tickets. And while the load was high, I did spy the odd empty seat in the back. So I don't think the families w
43 twa@fra : I've also wonder about the concept of TK comfort class, on my routing PVG - IST - DUS or FRA & vs. which I've flew with TK Comfort class 4 times l
44 Post contains images QF340500 : I have flewn QF Premium Economy on 4 legs so far, 2 on 747 and 2 on A380, and i think also, this will be my default choice in future when travelling t
45 jetlag73 : I was hoping CX going into Y+ would push SQ to consider it too, but seeing how full are SQ J most of the time (no upgrades on SQ, expensive tickets),
46 christao17 : I regularly fly from Bangkok to SFO or LAX and have found that the premium economy (called Elite Class) on BR (EVA Airways) is an excellent value. For
47 spacecadet : No, I was talking about Premium Economy on JAL. They do not have "Economy Plus". I think one issue is that there is no standard for what "Premium Eco
48 YTZ : I think that would make TK the only *A carrier offering PE on TATL routes. I am seriously hoping this doesn't become too popular! I don't want to see
49 frmrcapcadet : You kind of make my point, passenger comfort in that plan is of no value to the airline. And note, I said the Economy plus at close to the 15-25% fig
50 cloudboy : Another case of lack of definitions. Premium Economy really should be wider seats as well, that is the key difference between an economy plus and pre
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