U.S. airlines are following the lead of a product that international airlines have been offering for years. Premium economy class is often a separate cabin, in between business and economy. Passengers in these seats get an amenities kit, earlier boarding, lounge access, bigger entertainment monitors, better dining options.
The seats are wider and offer significantly more legroom and recline compared with regular economy, as well as footrests. The price can be more than double that of a coach ticket.
American, Delta and United are scrambling to add this in-between class to their international cabins. American, which is planning on allowing passengers to buy these seats with miles, has been outfitting its Boeing 777s and 787s with these seats, while Delta, which calls it Delta Premium Select, has them on its brand-new Airbus A350s, and has been adding them to its Boeing 777s. United started selling seats in its premium economy section, which it calls Premium Plus, earlier this month for travel starting next March.
The cost of one of these tickets varies but is double or more what an economy ticket fetches. For example, a search for a round-trip ticket in mid-April from Newark to Hong Kong in United’s Premium Plus showed a price of about $1,450, while regular economy for the same route was about $710.