When you book a flight, you have to make a lot of decisions. Do you want to book an basic economy ticket to save money? Do you want a seat that will give you a little extra legroom? Is it worth splurging and booking business or first class? Understanding the terminology for different seating levels can help you make a better decision about which ticket to book. Usually the hardest choice travelers have to make is between premium economy, economy plus, and economy, so those are the ones we will focus on here.
Premium economy fits between coach and business class, both in price and placement on the aircraft. A seat in premium economy is always more expensive than an economy ticket, sometimes even double the price. However, it's still much less expensive than business class. A big plus is that premium economy offers about five to seven inches more legroom than economy, along with wider seats and more space to recline. Premium ususally comes with amenities too, such as better meals, amenity kits, more airline miles, and priority boarding. For some airlines, flying premium economy will include free checked baggage. American Airlines and a few others offer premium economy. Some airlines offer the same choice, but with a different name. For example, Delta’s premium economy is called Premium Select, United’s is called Premium Plus, and Virgin Atlantic has Premium.
Economy plus is not as luxurious as premium economy, but it's more affordable. These seats are part of the main class cabin. Even though you'll be sitting in the coach cabin with an economy plus ticket, you do have a better seat. There’s more legroom, and on some airlines, the seats are actually more plush, wider, or newer than the rest of coach. Besides that, you’ll be at the front of the main cabin and usually benefit from priority boarding and potentially a better beverage or meal service (depending on the airline). Just like Premium Economy,many airlines offer this type of ticket, but call it something else. On Delta, they have Comfort+, JetBlue has Even More Space, American offers Main Cabin Extra, and United offers economy plus.
Is Premium Economy or Economy Plus Worth the Price?
Consider the length of your flight and personal preference. For a cross-country flight, you’ll usually pay an additional $100 to $300 for an economy plus-type ticket on Delta or JetBlue. For a premium economy ticket, you’ll pay at least $300 more than a regular coach ticket, and sometimes more. Paying double the price of an economy ticket for premium economy, especially when flying abroad, is ususally the standard. Another factor is your airline status. If you have status with an airline, these ticket types, you can sometimes receive upgrades at no charge.
Economy is the standard, main cabin fare. Whether or not you get meal service depends on the airline and your exact flight. Unless you have a preferred credit card or status with your airline of choice, you are usually allowed one carry-on plus a personal item, but you’ll have to pay for checked bags. You will get standard seating with about 30 to 31 inches of legroom, but it varies by airline and aircraft.
The next time you fly, consider all these things. Decide if must have comfort or if you just want to get from Point A to Point B. They say that if you fly business or premium class once, you'll never be happy in economy again!