Did you know that there are some options besides economy or first class? A nice option is business class but this is still a bit pricey. However, a nice compromise between business class and economy is premium economy. But is it worth the additional cost? The answer depends on the airline and your expectations (see below).
While premium economy typically costs 75% more than economy, if you book later rather than sooner you will pay just 10-25% more. Or you can cash in frequent flier miles and pay no additional cost. If you’re an anxious flier, tall and/or heavyset, have health concerns such as back or knee problems, or just like to be as comfortable as possible, consider what George Hobica, who writes USA TODAY Travel’s Fly Guy column, has to say. “I will say that some premium economy seats on international-based airlines give you about as much comfort as you’d find on a US Airways first class domestic seat.”
Just so you can get an idea of what this means in terms of real dollars rather than just talking percentages:
Let’s say an economy ticket cost $250. What would the cost be for these other options?
$250 x 10% ($25) =$275 premium economy ticket
$250 x 75% ($187) $437 premium economy ticket
$1,200 first class ticket
Premium economy would be $763 – $925 less than first class
Here’s a breakdown of what you get for the bump in price…
American Main Cabin Extra:more legroom, preferred boarding, and if you choose Choice Essential (free checked bag) or Choice Plus (includes change fee, additional miles, a beverage and same-day flight changes)
Delta Comfort+=more legroom, priority boarding, dedicated overhead space, free snacks and drinks, and free on-board entertainment
JetBlue Even More Speed=more legroom, early boarding and expedited boarding at some airports, and wider seats.
Southwest Business Select=priority boarding and priority check-in, a premium in-flight beverage, refundable fares, same-day changes, double miles on flight, and two free checked bags. Note: There is no extra legroom as there is no assigned seating on Southwest flights, but priority boarding is available.
Virgin America Main Cabin Select=more legroom, larger seats, priority check-in and priority boarding, free checked bag, and complimentary food and drink
I’ve saved the worst for last. Save your money as United offers nothing more than a bit more legroom…
United Economy Plus=more legroom only
For a more detailed breakdown of airline/airplane benefits check out http://www.seatguru.com/charts/premium_economy.php.
Sometimes specials are offered and the upgrades are only a few dollars more, making it a no brainer. If a checked bag fee is $50 and an upgrade is only $50 then it would make sense to buy the upgrade and get a few more perks thrown in. If it is a cross country flight, the extra cost may be well worth it to you. There are only a handful of specialty seats on each flight so it may not even be an option. If your flight is less than four hours, why bother? Best of luck and safe travels…