Is Premium Economy being devalued by ancillaries?

Over the past few years, a number of airlines have introduced a number of paid-for propositions for Economy passengers. Such features include the opportunity to purchase an “enhanced” meal in the region of £15 to £22 which is served on china and features stainless steel cutlery.

We already know that many airlines offer the option for passengers to purchase an extra leg room seat, exit seat and even additional baggage for a fixed price. Although extra leg room seating only allows for up to an additional three inches on most carriers; that equates to 34″. Do all these options have an impact on the Premium Economy cabin? Actually, they could do.

So you might not be seated in a smaller cabin with dedicated crew members, not a few additional inches of leg room. But passengers are able to pay as little at £180 round-trip to utilise all the added perks I mentioned in Economy; instead of double or three-times that to sit in Premium Economy. Which one would you pick?

Example

Virgin Atlantic LGW-MCO £574pp (Economy), £1,183pp (Premium Economy) Sep 12 – 18 2017.

Extra Legroom seating is available on VS operated flights from £37 each way, whilst exit row seats are £50.
The first extra bag per sector costs £65. So if I was to pay for extra legroom seating and an additional bag each way, it would cost me £204 extra, or £778 in total.

That means there is still a £405 difference between flying in Economy with the extras and in Premium Economy. Okay, so you might not have a seat with 38″ of legroom or an upgraded meal in a smaller cabin… but for the majority of us £400 or so could easily be put towards the accommodation, dining or used a treat at the shops. What would you choose?

The airlines who offer these perks are certainly aware of this, but don’t think it’s too much of a problem at the moment… although it could be in a few years time. What are your thoughts on this? Could this be the start of the devaluation of Premium Economy?

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5 Comments

  1. Okay I’ll be blunt. I don’t usually fly PE because I prefer business but I will do if necessary. If I am in PE I’m as much paying to keep away from economy and the passengers therein. There I said it – oops!

  2. I think premium economy is geared more towards less-price sensitive business travelers than the leisure traveler. I have a friend who’s company travel policy is coach domestically and economy plus for trans-Atlantic flights > 7 hours. When he flies to Europe he always travels PE at a premium of $500 or more since it’s on the company’s dime and is within his perimeters for work. I think for the cost conscience leisure traveler exit row/economy plus seating is a good way to balance cost and comfort. But with the PE cabins being the smallest on the plane, I think the trend of a $500 or more spread between PE and Y will continue.

  3. Premium economy is the new business class of 20 years ago. Slowly you’ll see it improve over time and renamed. Business is the old first class of 20 years ago. This is especially true on widebody long haul.
    I don’t care about the service or food much. It’s all about the nicer seat. Sure leg room is nice but being able to sleep on an overnight long haul is the real issue. That and the price for award bookings.

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