Originally posted at Uproute.co -> uproute.co/blog/premium-economy

Premium Economy… Worth It? Sam From Uproute Reviews Air New Zealand’s 787 Dreamliner Premium Economy Class

An aeroplane at the gate

TL;DR - Yes! Especially if you’re taking a long-haul flight and want to make the most out of the day after you land!

At Uproute we subscribe to the thought process that if you buy cheap you’ll end up buying twice. I’ve got wetsuits that I paid a little extra for, but have lasted 6 years instead of 2. I’ve got backpacks still kicking after 8 years of abuse, and cast iron frying pans that I expect to last my lifetime.

However, the one exception to this rule is when we’re buying our travel tickets: We want the cheapest travel tickets and the shortest journey times — and you’d better throw in excellent service for good measure!

Therefore I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you, dear reader, that I’ve previously always scoffed at the thought of premium economy on aeroplanes. The seat is on the same plane. It goes to the same place and arrives at the same time as the poor old regular economy class seats. It’s definitely not business class. So why pay extra?!

Well, I recently had the chance to find out for ourselves on a long-haul flight from Queenstown to Perth. Air New Zealand’s pricing structure is pretty innovative as far as long-haul flying goes. They borrow a structure more often seen in short-haul budget carriers, which is an interesting psychology that I’m not sure I 100% agree with. You quickly realise the cheapest price listed isn’t going to be close to what you end up paying, and as part of the realisation your eye is drawn further and further to the right hand side of the screen.

Air NZ Pricing Structure

In my specific instance, it was already cut and dried that I were going to pick ‘The Works’ — I had luggage to check in, wanted to watch movies, and was already hungry. But then out of the furthest corner of my eye… One more option? Premium economy was only $150 more. On a 12 hour journey booked last minute, The Works was about $1,000 already, so premium economy was only going to cost 15% more. Intriguing…

Now don’t get me wrong, 150 bucks is still a lot of cash to be dropping on a seat just a little bit further forward on the plane. But like I said, it was last minute, and I had a lot on my schedule the day I got back. Could premium economy be the difference between arriving dog-tired and slogging through the next day, or arriving fresh, and having something to blog about as a bonus? Obviously, all factors considered, it turned out to be a no brainer!

Air NZ Premium Economy

The first suggestion that I had made a good choice was when a member of the cabin crew greeted me by name, and told me that the chef had something particularly tasty planned for the vegetarian option that day. Wait a minute… What? We get a chef?! Score!

The next surprise was a pair of noise reducing headphones waiting for me on my seat. Another nice touch. Although I have to admit it drives me mad that airlines put all the pillows and blankets and headphones right there on the seat. You’re already doing some weird juggling act of books and iPads and eye masks as you approach your seat; the last thing you want is to not be able to sit straight down because your seat is covered in stuff. But anyway, the noise reducing headphones went some way towards soothing my unjustified rage.

In any case, it didn’t matter — the seat was so big I just scooched the blankets aside and sat down next to them! There was tons of room. I reached out to tap the screen and select my first movie of the flight. I reached, and kept reaching. My elbow straightened. My finger extended. I stretched a little further. I still couldn’t reach the back of the seat in front of me! I’m a shade over 6 feet with long arms. And I couldn’t reach the back of the seat in front. Wow. The legroom was extremely generous. I started to feel strangely peaceful. I had a feeling there would be no babies in my immediate vicinity. It was going to be a good flight.

Dramatic landing

From then on, things just got better and better. Not long after takeoff I had sparkling wine for my left hand, sparkling water for my right. The two members of the cabin crew looking after the premium economy section were lovely, bordering on delightful. The tasty something the chef had planned for us vegos turned out to be stuffed vine leaves that paired particularly nicely with the suggested pinot noir. When I got up to go to the toilet, the host deftly pre-empted me and cleaned the bathroom before I got there. The service was insanely good.

If it’s not already apparent, this is a very complimentary review, but a couple more anecdotes just to seal the deal. My sister was flying with me, but she had broken her leg and had it in a cast, so her insurance had her way up front in business class. I found out from her later that her host had offered at one point if she’d like to send a glass of champagne back to her poor old brother sitting back with the peasants. Ha! Deeper in discussion of the flight, it turned out that she’d also had the stuffed vine leaves. We’d enjoyed the same menu! And it dawned on me that premium economy wasn’t a dialled up version of economy; it was a slightly toned down version of business class.

Now, there are certain circumstances to my flight that mean this review isn’t representitive of every premium economy experience: We were treated extra nicely by the crew because of my sister’s leg, and the 787 Dreamliner is a brand spanking new plane, so I’m sure that regular economy is probably a darn sight better than usual too.

Even taking those things into consideration I still think that I got really good value for my extra $150. Air New Zealand did a great job of making the flight a good experience, not just a form of transportation. I usually don’t like flying because I’m tall and it’s uncomfortable and long and smelly, but I really enjoyed this flight. Although like I said, my experience isn’t necessarily representative of the average premium economy experience. So I shall leave you with a promise: Next time I fly long-haul, I’ll go premium economy again and report back. You know, just to make sure…

Neither Sam or Uproute were compensated for this review. It’s Uproute policy to never take compensation in exchange for reviews of any kind.