Do you want the premium economy with a fixed or reclining shell?

At a time when Lufthansa has been deploying its Premium Economy class for a few months and is intensively promoting its product, I wanted to share a thought I have about this type of product.

First of all, what is Premium Economy? Historically, it is an evolution of the economy class aimed at business passengers whose employers have cut back on their travel policy or eco passengers who want something better than the cattle drive but cannot afford to go to business.

Depending on the airline, it differs from the economy by the available space, the type of seat, the service, sometimes one of the three, sometimes all three.

The first premium economy was just a few rows ahead of economy, with identical seats but spaced further apart for legroom and with a higher recline. This is for example the original choice of KLM for its Economy Comfort class.

KLM Economy Comfort

Some airlines have also designed specific seats for their Premium Economy.

This is the case with Lufthansa.

Lufthansa premium economy

This is also the choice made by Air France.


Air France Premium Voyageur

One of the latest, the Singapore Airlines’

Singapore Airlines Premium Economy

I will finish with (in my opinion) very successful seat of Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand Premium Economy

As you can see, different choices have been made for the seat. Choices that depend, in my opinion, on one variable: is premium economy a super eco or a mini business?

From a purely technical point of view it is an economy. Premium Eco is not recognized as a class in its own right in the reservation systems and is simply an economy fare class (W for short). Given its success, this could change quickly, but today we are at this point.

On the other hand, from an experience point of view, there are two schools of thought which give, as a result, either a reclining seat like in eco or a seat with a fixed shell like on a business. The difference between the two is that in the second case, when the front passenger stretches, the backrest does not tilt towards the one behind.

From my point of view, a premium economy must have a fixed hull to provide the expected experience. But I know that the subject is debated and that we are far from all in agreement on the subject. Maybe there is no answer, everything being a question of marketing and depending on the positioning that each airline intends to give it, more economy or more premium.

How do you like your Premium Eco? Reclining or fixed shell?


Photo Credit: Lufthansa, KLM, Air France, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrin
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.

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