Premium economy anyone?

On a recent flight to the States, my flight was delayed by almost six hours because of bad weather. There were strong cross winds at Dublin airport which were blowing above the safety threshold of the aircraft in question and we couldn’t use another runway because the aircraft size and load needed a longer runway to take off.

Flight delays are an unfortunate inconvenience of air travel and are usually beyond the control of all concerned. Unfortunately, on this occasion, we had already boarded the aircraft and were stuck in the queue to take -off. After a couple of hours just sitting there, we briefly returned to the gate to allow two passengers to disembark and have their luggage removed. We were getting dangerously close to the crew going out of hours which would have meant everyone deplaning and starting all over again. Thankfully, the winds subsided to below safe operational levels and we managed to take off around 3.55 p.m. — having boarded the aircraft at 10.00 a.m. that morning. The flight duration was just under eight hours so almost 14 hours in total or the approximate time it would take to fly from Dublin to Singapore.

What made the experience more endurable was the fact that I had paid extra and booked two Premium Economy seats with the carrier — American Airlines as it happened. That meant that I paid approximately 50% more than a standard economy fare but a fraction of what a full business class fare would have cost me and boy, was I glad I had because you get so much more bang for your buck! Aside from the fact that you enjoy speedier check-in at the airport and your bags are delivered faster to the carousel upon landing at your destination, the real difference can be seen once you step on board as the Premium Economy cabin is located just behind the Business Class section and comprises wider seats with much greater legroom and integrated trays and adjustable foot rests and head supports. The impressive on-board entertainment system with its hundreds of movies and TV shows is free, as are all the alcoholic beverages served with your meals which come with full steel cutlery (defeats the confiscation of your nail clippers when going through security, don’t you think?) and charging points for your laptop/tablet/smartphone. You also receive an amenity kit and full stereo headphones to enjoy your in-flight entertainment. Premium economy (at least with American Airlines) also entitles you to additional benefits under their loyalty programme.

That’s quite a lot of ‘extras’ for relatively little money and I can assure you that it made a huge difference to that six-hour delay that we had to ensure on board. It also made me curious as to where American Airlines stood relative to its peers with its Premium Economy product as I thought it represented excellent value for money and so was really surprised when I found that they only managed to come in at No. 19 on a list of the world’s top 20 Premium Economy airline products, as evaluated by SkyTrax.

Here is the complete listing:

  1. Air New Zealand
  2. Qantas Airways
  3. Singapore Airlines
  4. Lufthansa
  5. Air France
  6. Aeroflot
  7. EVA Air
  8. Japan Airlines
  9. Virgin Australia
  10. China Airlines
  11. ANA All Nippon Airways
  12. Air Canada
  13. Cathay Pacific Airways
  14. Virgin Atlantic
  15. Alitalia
  16. Austrian Airlines
  17. British Airways
  18. Iberia
  19. American Airlines
  20. Scandinavian Airlines

Aeroflot in the number 6 slot? You learn something new every day!

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