Qantas Airways | Australia & New Zealand Sale  

Premium Economy - BA & Virgin Atlantic

Most of us are familiar with economy class, business class and first class seats; but not as many people know about the premium economy flights options. Virgin Atlantic’s Premium Economy Class and British Airways’ premium economy class, World Traveller Plus, were devised to bridge the comfort gap between the regular Economy Class and the luxurious Upper and Business Classes offered by the two airlines.  Virgin Atlantic started the concept of an enhanced economy class as early as 1992, and many other carriers have since followed suit.   But is it worth paying the extra if you are an economy class traveler, and would you consider travelling Premium Economy if you usually travel Business Or Upper Class?

Perks in Premium Economy Class

On British Airways’  and Virgin Atlantic’s SA-London route, you can get all sorts of perks in Premium Economy that you don’t get in regular Economy seats.  There’s the welcoming glass of bubbly, complimentary newspaper, wider seats (Virgin Atlantic claim that, in their class, the plush purple leather seats on their London Heathrow flights are the widest in the sky at 21 inches), two seats only on each side of the aisle, a toiletry kit, entertainment, places you can plug in your state of the art devices, and the kind attention of the crew.   You will travel in moderate privacy in the premium economy cabin where there are only a maximum of 7 rows of 4 seats each and you will get a good night’s sleep because your seat will be able to recline to about 130 degrees (not quite flat, but almost!).   There’s also extra leg room – a big problem for some on Economy Class where the “seat pitch”, i.e. the distance from any point on one seat to the exact same point on the seat in front or behind it, is 31 inches.  In the Premium Economy cabin you get up to 7 extra inches to stretch your legs.  Oh and – a really big perk -you will eat your meals off real porcelain plates with proper metal cutlery and real table napkins.  (For those of you who despise airline packaged food and bendy knives and forks, this is great!).   You’ll have a choice of starter, main course and dessert, with lots of complimentary drinks served in real glass glasses.

Before you even get on the ‘plane, there are advantages to travelling Premium Economy.   Both airlines offer a priority check-in and baggage drop, extra luggage allowance and speedy security access.   You’ll also be able to board and disembark with the first set of passengers and your luggage will be fast-tracked onto the conveyer belts.

Prices

And how much will this additional comfort cost?

We looked at a hypothetical Premium Plus customer who wants to travel from Jo’burg to London – leaving on the evening of Saturday 16 March and arriving back in Jo’burg on Saturday 30 March 2013.  Here are the comparative prices for both airlines (subject to change – please check!):

Virgin Atlantic :  16 Mar 2013
JBG – LHR: Dep 21:25 from JHB

 

Lowest Fare

British Airways :  16 Mar 2013
JBG – LHR: Dep 20:15 from JHB

 

Lowest Fare

Economy

R4286

Economy

R5568

Premium Economy

R9452

Premium Economy

R12122

Upper Class

R19797

Business Class

R23603

 

 

 

 

Virgin Atlantic:  30 Mar 2013
LHR – JBG: Dep 20:30 from LHR

 

British Airways:  30 Mar 2013
LHR – JBG: Dep 20:45 from LHR

 

Economy

R9130

Economy

R5525

Premium Economy

R10366

Premium Economy

R14284

Upper Class

R25936

Upper Class

R25775

And just for further insight, we compared prices for a Thursday flight, leaving on Thursday 7 March and returning on Thursday 21 March (prices also subject to change):


Virgin Atlantic :  07 Mar 2013
JBG – LHR: Dep 21:25 from JHB

 

Lowest Fare

British Airways :  07 Mar 2013
JBG – LHR: Dep 20:15 from JHB

 

Lowest Fare

Economy

R4186

Economy

R4805

Premium Economy

R12322

Premium Economy

R12122

Upper Class

R27967

Business Class

R36493

 

 

 

 

Virgin Atlantic:  21 Mar 2013
LHR – JBG: Dep 20:30  from LHR

 

British Airways:  21 Mar 2013
LHR – JBG: Dep 20:45 from LHR

 

Economy

R8190

Economy

R6915

Premium Economy

R10166

Premium Economy

R9394

Upper Class

R22126

Business Class

R21555

So the outbound flight to London from Jo’burg costs two to three times more in Premium Economy Class than in Economy Class, while on the way back, the price differential drops considerably in most cases.   Compared to the Upper Class and Business Class prices, the Premium Economy Class costs two to three times less.

But are the little extras offered by the Premium Economy Class enough to make you pay twice as much to move out of economy class?  In economy class, you can’t recline your seat quite so far back, you have less legroom, you are cheek by jowl with hundreds of other travelers, and you don’t get the pre-flight privileges, but you do get a toiletry kit, entertainment, a choice of meals, and, on Virgin Atlantic, a welcome cocktail.  The airline staff are kind and attentive, and on some flights you can even get a free newspaper.  If you really need extra legroom, you can buy a suitable seat in advance for an additional fee.   You can get an extra baggage allowance for an additional fee.  (But you’ll still have to use those bendy knives and forks!).  You don’t get all the pre- and post- departure perks, but these facilities are so streamlined these days – is it worth paying double?

It would be hard to give up the pampering and perks in Business and Upper Class – the complimentary chauffeurs, in-car check-ins, the Business and Upper Class Lounges, extra baggage allowances, fast tracking through security, baggage and boarding.   The wide, long, completely flat beds,  the a la carte menu, the privacy, not to mention the complimentary pyjamas, the bar and the undivided and dedicated attention of the staff!   Business and Upper Class make flying a pleasurable experience for those who can afford it, and not merely a means of getting from A to B.

Your reason for flying
So it all comes down to why you are flying in the first place.   If you are a very high-powered executive who needs to work on the plane, needs proper sleep and relaxation, needs to be smart and efficient and well rested by the time the plane lands, needs to rush off to meetings straight from the airport, - and if you can afford it, then Business and Upper Class are for you.  (Or if you aren’t a high powered executive and you don’t  have any meetings, but you love luxury and don’t mind paying the extra – then go for it!  Why not?)

The advantage of Premium Economy Class is that you can have almost the comfort and relaxation on the aircraft as your Business/Upper Class companions do.  You’re not quite as private, but the comforts are  tailored to the business person or tourist to make sure to make sure you can get a good night’s sleep, and that you can work or relax in relatively quiet surroundings.   You don’t have the worry of being squashed in between two other people as you might be in Economy, or having to elbow your way past them to get to the loo.   Premium Economy Class gives companies the option to send executives to London at much more affordable rates, allowing them to arrive in a fit state for decision-making, and it gives all of us the prospect of a good night’s sleep - with a bit of pampering thrown in! 

And don’t forget those knives and forks!

British Airways plane parked at Cape Town International Airport



To advertise here email
cheapflights@southafrica.to

Ritsgids logo