On my recent trip from Sydney to Bangkok I decided to upgrade myself from Economy to Premium Economy using frequent flyer points.
On the Qantas 747 premium economy is a 2-4-2 configuration and you have a couple of more inches of legroom over normal economy class. On my plane there were 32 seats in a curtained off cabin that is situated between business and economy just behind the main galley. The area would have been standard economy seats before premium economy was introduced.
When you board you are offered water, juice or champagne, just as you would in Business Class, but I’m sure that you’re getting cheaper champagne than at the pointy end. I had the champagne and it was OK… I even asked for, and received, a second glass.
After takeoff a bar service was offered before dinner was served. No plastic ‘glasses’ either, real glass!
Dinner was a vast improvement over standard economy, think domestic business class food. No tinfoil plates, you get a china plate and proper cutlery (but still plastic knives). It was just a better experience than a standard economy meal. Dessert was the standard economy class icy-pole.
About an hour before we landed in Bangkok our steward came through the cabin asking is anyone would like a toasted sandwich and drink. I had a rather nice toasted chicken sandwich which certainly filled the spot.
The seats are slightly larger than economy, and I would compare them to an older business class seat or the current domestic business class seat. It was very comfortable and you get a couple of extra inches of width and of legroom so you don’t feel so crammed in.
Everyone gets a in-armrest video display that is larger that the economy screen but smaller than the business screen. It does have a touch screen, but mine wasn’t well calibrated so when I pressed a button the one next to it got selected. I just resorted to using the handset controls.
My only major gripe with things were that when the person in front reclined their seat they hit your screen and knock it out of position. I had a squirmer in the seat in from of me so it became very, very annoying. An extra inch between seats would have fixed the problem.
What was the same as economy?
- Had to use the economy class toilets
- Dessert was the icy-pole
- No after dinner port or muscat etc
- No menu
What was the same as business?
- The welcome aboard drink
- Bar service before the meal
- Better meal and ‘real’ wine
- Wine service continued after the meal
- Noise canceling headphones
This was a day flight, there may be other differences on an overnight flight. I did try to upgrade myself for the return flight but both Business and Premium Economy were full… who said that airlines were doing it tough!
Overall, a good investment in points or cash for longer flights if you can’t justify the price of a business class seat.