Every economy seat is made pretty much equal. The differences in economy come down to an inch or two more in width and/or pitch but all seats have the same general design.  Unfortunately the same can not be said for Premium Economy seats. There are a huge range of differences between products and benefits associated with booking tickets in the Premium Economy cabin. I have flown on many of airlines that offer a true premium economy product. These are the five best and worst airlines to spend the extra dinero on.

Worst Premium Economy

5. Norwegian Air Shuttle

Seat Type: Standard Recliner
Seat Pitch: 43″
Seat Width: 19″
Foot Rest/Leg Rest: Leg Rest
Lounge Access: Yes, At Select Airports
Amenity Kit: No
Additional Benefits: Complimentary Seat Selection, Meal, and Luggage
Qualifying Miles: N/A
Redeemable Miles: N/A

Why its the Worst:

If all you care about is recline, you probably wont rank Norwegian Air Shuttle as one of your worst premium economy airlines. It earns a spot on the worst list because of the things you don’t get when you fly with Norwegian. You don’t get the ability to earn usefully frequent flyer miles, you don’t get enhanced food and beverage over economy, you don’t get priority luggage service and you an amenity kit full of travel essentials

 

Image result for air france premium economy

4. Air France

Seat Type: Fixed Shell
Seat Pitch: 38″-40″
Seat Width: 19″
Foot Rest/Leg Rest: Foot Rest and Leg Rest
Lounge Access: No
Amenity Kit: Yes (toothbrush, toothpaste, earplugs, socks, eye mask)
Additional Benefits: Noise Canceling Headphones and Sky Priority Services
Qualifying Miles: 4 XP – 24 XP
Redeemable Miles: 4 miles per € 1 spent

Why its the Worst:

The Points Guy Associate Editor Brendan Dorsey put it best when he summarized his review of the Air France product “A seat that is truly uncomfortable and no wi-fi”. On top of an uncomfortable fixed shell seat Air France also gets placed on this list because of the dismal earnings when crediting to Flying Blue. You would have to fly 5 long haul round trips to earn enough XP for their lowest tier silver status4543885-british-airways-premium-economy-seats

3. British Airways

Seat Type: Standard Recliner
Seat Pitch: 38″
Seat Width: 18.5″
Foot Rest/Leg Rest: Foot Rests or Leg Rests, Depending on Aircraft Type
Lounge Access: No
Amenity Kit: Yes
Additional Benefits: Priority Boarding, Enhanced bedding, Noise Canceling Headphones
Qualifying Miles: 80-150 Tier Points
Redeemable Miles: 100% – 150%

Why its the Worst:

British Airways is one of the longest running airlines with a premium economy product or as they like to call it, World Traveller Plus. British Airways introduced the product in 1999 and there are still to this day some planes flying with the original seats still in them. With such longevity, the BA premium economy soft product has been cut down to bare bones leaving only the most cost-effective amenities. Put that together with their some awful small in-flight entertainment screens and you’ll wish you only bothered to pay for coach. They rank near the bottom for their dated product only. Seats on their newer retrofitted aircrafts are slightly more tolerable.

Image via Youtube

2. Wow Air

Seat Type: Standard Recliner
Seat Pitch: 37″
Seat Width: 17″
Foot Rest/Leg Rest: Leg Rest
Lounge Access: No
Amenity Kit: No
Additional Benefits: Priority Check-In and Boarding, In-Flight Meal, 2 Pieces of Luggage, No Change Fee
Qualifying Miles: N/A
Redeemable Miles: N/A

Why its the Worst:

With a super narrow 17″ seat, limited recline, and lack of frequent flyer earning potential it’s no question as to why this is the 2nd worst premium economy product you can fly.  In addition to the flaws above WOW Air’s premium economy or “Big Seat” as they call them are only available on 3 airplanes, limiting their value even more.Image result for aeroflot premium economy

1. Aeroflot

Seat Type: Fixed Shell
Seat Pitch: 38″
Seat Width: 20″
Foot Rest/Leg Rest: Leg Rest
Lounge Access: No
Amenity Kit: Yes, Same as in Economy
Additional Benefits: Enhanced food and beverage
Qualifying Miles: 100% (When Crediting to Delta Air Lines)
Redeemable Miles: 100% (When Crediting to Delta Air Lines)

Why its the Worst of the Worst:

At the bottom of the barrel is Aeroflot’s premium economy. It should come as no surprise if you check out The Points Guys writer JT Genter’s review of the product. The seat is not only uncomfortable, but the amenities didn’t come with much more than a standard economy seat. There is limited limited alcohol, a very large premium economy cabin (48 seats),  poor headphones and a difficult and misleading website which indicates you can lie down to sleep.

Best Premium Economy Seats

5. American Airlines

Seat Type: Standard Recliner
Seat Pitch: 36″-38″
Seat Width: 17.1″- 19″
Foot Rest/Leg Rest: Foot Rest*
Lounge Access: No
Amenity Kit: Yes
Additional Benefits: Casper Bedding, Pre-Ordered Meals, Enhanced food and beverage, Priority check-in and boarding, Noise Canceling Headphones
Qualifying Miles: 150%
Redeemable Miles: 5 miles for every $1 spent

*Leg Rests Available in First Row Only

Why its the Best:

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines all offer a very similar hard product in premium economy. What sets American apart from the competition are its generous elite qualifying rates, Casper bedding, amenity kits, and pre-ordered meal choices up to 1 month in advance. In addition to all of the soft product that make it different, you can find the premium economy seat on all of their international flights and flights to Hawaii. Where as Delta and United have been slow to install their premium economy seats.

4. Qantas

Seat Type: Standard Recliner on most, Reclining Shell onboard 787-9
Seat Pitch: 38″-42″
Seat Width: 19″-20.5″
Foot Rest/Leg Rest: Leg Rest on most, Foot Rest on 787-9
Lounge Access: No
Amenity Kit: Yes
Additional Benefits: Enhanced food and beverage, Priority Check-In and boarding, Noise Canceling Headphones
Qualifying Miles: 20-160 Status Points
Redeemable Miles: 600-17,000 Qantas Points

Why its the Best:

Qantas has some of the best seats in the industry with their A380’s having seat pitch as high as 42″ and up to 20.5″ wide. These are necessary as they fly some of the longest routes in the world. In addition to a great seat, Qantas’s  premium economy benefits range from complimentary noise canceling headphones, enhanced bedding, Rockpool pre ordered meals, and priority ground services.

3. Singapore Airlines

Seat Type: Standard Recliner
Seat Pitch: 38″
Seat Width: 19″-19.5″
Foot Rest/Leg Rest: Leg Rest
Lounge Access: No
Amenity Kit: Yes
Additional Benefits: Book the Cook Preordered Meals, Noise Canceling Headphones, Priority check In
Qualifying Miles: 100%-125%
Redeemable Miles: 100%-125%

Why its the Best:

With solo seats and seats that are large enough to fit Sam Chui himself for 19+ hours, it’s no wonder why Singapore Airlines ended up on this list. In addition to a large seat, Singapore airlines makes the #3 spot because of its amazing book the cook program, complimentary noise canceling headphones, large inflight entertainment screen, priority ground services and seats that have both leg rests and foot rests.

Image result for japan airlines premium economy

2. Japan Airlines

Seat Type: Fixed Shell
Seat Pitch: 38″-42″
Seat Width: 18″-19.3″
Foot Rest/Leg Rest: Foot Rests and Leg Rests
Lounge Access: Yes
Amenity Kit: Yes
Additional Benefits: Enhanced Beverages, Priority Check-In, Boarding, and Baggage
Qualifying Miles: 100%
Redeemable Miles: 100%

Why its the Best:

Japan Airlines arguably has the worlds most comfortable, easily accessible premium economy seat. The seats are in a fixed shell so you don’t get reclined into, and offer 42″ of pitch. On top of that, all premium economy passengers get priority ground services, business class lounge access, amenity kits, and enhanced beverage options. Given the opportunity, it is always a pleasure to fly with them.

1. Thai Airways (on Selected Routes to Scandinavia)

Seat Type: Lie-Flat, Direct Aisle Access
Seat Pitch: 87″
Seat Width: 20″
Foot Rest/Leg Rest: Leg Rest
Lounge Access: No
Amenity Kit: No
Additional Benefits: Enhanced Food and Beverage, Fast Track Arrivals, Priority Check-In
Qualifying Miles: 110%
Redeemable Miles: 110%

Why its the Best of the Best:

Theres no doubt, Thai Airways isn’t the best when it comes to the soft product. They do have one MAJOR advantage over the competition, Flat Beds. Yes, that’s right Thai Airways sells its lie-flat, direct aisle access, business class seats as Premium Economy on select routes from Bangkok to Stockholm, Copenhagen, Moscow.

Sam’s Travel Hacks

As a frequent flier, I recommend book flights and compare prices on Skyscanner and JustFly for the best deals on the internet. We have put together many useful travel tips and airfare promotions in my Smart Travel section to guide you travel in more luxury with lower price!