If you’re not a frequent flyer, the mired of seat choices on an airplane can be pretty confusing.
On a recent flight to Scotland, for instance, I watched a woman meltdown in front of a flight attendant because she wasn’t given the luxury blanket, pillow, or amenity kit that was provided to Premium Economy customers in her Economy+ seat just a few rows back. She thought the two were the same, and that she was unfairly being punished for booking a seat a few rows further back in the plane. The phrase “I paid as much for my ticket as they did?” was aggressively yelled more than once. She was wrong.
In reality, those people sitting in Premium Economy paid more for their plane tickets for those small luxuries. A lot more.
While certainly not as common as the “Why am I in a middle seat?” argument from Basic Economy fliers, the irate passenger on my flight isn’t alone. This week Conde Nast Traveler broke down the difference between the two fares.
Economy Plus seats are offered by virtually every major airline and get you a few inches of extra legroom. The seats are located toward the front of the aircraft, and passengers in the section are often able to board the plane in an earlier group, get slightly better snacks (think nicer granola bars and bananas), and can drink for free, even on domestic flights.
The price difference between an Economy Plus tickets and traditional Economy tickets varies depending on your flight but can be anywhere between $20-$30 to several hundred dollars for International flights.
If you’re not sure if you want the upgrade, you can often upgrade to Economy+ at the gate, sometimes for less cash than if you booked the seat originally, when you check in for your flight, provided there are still seats available.
Premium Economy is a whole different animal. I personally think that the best way to describe this type of seat is “Business” but that’s technically not correct. Premium Economy seats are not as nice as those in First Class or Business, but they’re a step above what you’ll find in Economy. United calls the section “Premium Economy” and Delta calls it “Premium Select.”
The seats are set apart in their own cabin on the plane and offer extra leg and seat room, a bit more recline (although you won’t be able to lay down), and often things like plated meals and amenity kits on longer flights.
Seats in this area are often double the cost that they are in Economy, so you’re going to pay for that comfort. Many airlines have the section set up in a 2-4-2 configuration as well, which means you stand a good chance of ending in a middle seat. Personally, I’d take an aisle seat in Economy+ over a middle seat in Premium Economy, but if you’re traveling with the person who has the aisle it might be an ok proposition.
Regardless, pay attention to what you’re booking and make sure you’re buying a ticket where you think you are.