Recently, Iberia released that they were planning on adding premium economy on most of their long haul fleet. The move does not come as a surprise to me since both of their transatlantic joint venture partners offer a premium economy product. This leads to the new Transatlantic Premium Economy Trifecta of American, British Airways and Iberia. American Airlines’ first plane with their new Premium Economy product launched recently. British Airways has had the cabin class for a number of years. With that in mind, Iberia plans on rolling it out over the next months. The plan is hopefully completing it by the end of 2017. This leads us to compare the premium economy products of the three joint venture partners.
The product on British Airways has been the pioneer of Premium Economy among the group. They offer it on all their longhaul fleet under the name of World Traveller Plus. The cabin itself is much smaller than the usual World Traveller cabin, and comes with a higher crew-to-passenger ratio. The larger and wider seats have greater legroom.
The seats come with a small amenity kit that consists of the headphones, socks, toothbrush, and an eyemask. Also, the seat brings a thicker blanket and a pillow. The IFE screens are larger. According to BA’s website, they also have an enhanced meal service. They offer two versions of their World Traveller Plus cabin. The older one can be found on their 777-200s and their 767s. The refreshed version can be found on the 787, A380 and the 777-300.
I have flown them once. They were my first premium international cabin experience. Although that was many years ago, I can say that they started a passion for premium flying that has not died since. Their new hard product looks very different than their original product. I hope the improvements made in ergonomics hopefully compensate for the thinner seats.
American recently released their Premium Economy product. As per the American website, their product will be launched throughout the fleet in the coming years. Also, it comes with many added benefits to their normal Main Cabin product. Among those are: larger seats with more legroom, larger IFE screens, power ports at every seat. And the soft product will improve with an amenity kit, noise canceling headphones and one free checked bag. That being said, the seats look very similar to what the airline offers in their new Airbus and Boeing short haul aircraft.
Platinums and Exec Plats will have a chance to book the seats for free. This will be until the new pricing structure kicks in. Then, the upgrade system will likely change as well. Also, they have yet to detail how they will allow mileage accrual. I’m hoping that they offer at least 1.5 EQMs for a flight on PE. The first international routes will be Sao Paulo, Madrid and Paris. The flight will originate at Dallas (DFW).
The product is the most recent entrants to the market. We know very little of Iberia’s Premium Economy at this time. We know it will be offered on their A330-300s, A340-600s and new A350s.They plan on making it 2-3-2 across, which is a one seat reduction to the usual A330/A340. With the new premium economy, there will also be a reduction on the available seats in business class. There hasn’t been any word on whether there will also be a reduction in coach. Their seats look like standard premium economy seats. They will offer greater pitch and recline, larger IFE screens, and some other improvements. We do not know at the time the exact details of their soft product. We will update the post as soon as the product launches.
We do know the first routes however. Lima, Chicago and Bogota will be among the first to receive the new cabin. The carrier aims to match the products offered by both American and British Airways, so I expect to see an alignment of benefits and soft products among them. Their Joint Venture has been very productive and (seemingly) profitable.
As I have mentioned before, I am a big fan of premium economy. It offers passengers a chance to have a better flight experience without breaking the bank. The only drawback is the reduction of premium cabin seats, as well as how upgrades will be processed.
I long to see how Finnair, the fourth partner in the Joint Venture, will react. They offer a solid business class product. Yet, they have yet to announce a new Premium Economy product. The question is not if, but how long will they wait. I believe that the premium economy trend will continue to expand and it will be a common sight in the near future.
What do you think? Would you like to try out any of the Transatlantic Premium Economy Trifecta products?