We were fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to fly Premium Economy on our flight from Taipei to Vancouver during our latest trip, so I thought I would write a review of our experience. We flew Air Canada so we can only comment on their Premium Economy class. Do share your own experiences with this or other airlines below!
Advanced Seat Selection
The first benefit of flying Premium Economy is the advanced seat selection. Over the years, I find that it has become more and more difficult to be able to get seats that you want. Recently, there were times when I was not even assigned a seat next to my travel companion, which I always thought was a given! I guess it was nice to have the ability to select our seats in advance, but I really wish that this was a default option and not a premium feature.
We were running a little low on time when we arrived at the check-in desk at the airport, so it was a pleasant surprise that we were able to get priority check-in. We also had priority boarding, so that saved some time as well.
No Lounge Access
On the other hand, even if we had more time, we would not have had access to any of their airport lounges with a Premium Economy ticket. To access these lounges, you will need to hold a certain status with the airline or hold a Business Class ticket.
In terms of in-flight amenities, the first thing I noticed was the wider seats and more leg room. It definitely provided a more comfortable flying experience. There was also a footrest which was a nice touch. The headrest is also adjustable so you can move it up and down according to your height. It also has side bumpers for those who like to bob their heads when sleeping (like me!). I especially enjoyed that there were only 2 seats in a row and not the regular 3. It definitely provided more privacy and made me feel more comfortable than having to sit next to a stranger. It’s also nice that there is a little drinks holder at the armrest instead of having to pull down the seat front table all the time.
As expected from a premium experience, we were provided with an amenity kit which included an eye mask, earplugs, earphones, toothbrush, toothpaste and socks. It provided a nice touch but to be honest, I didn’t really need to use anything in the kit. I already have my own amenity “kit” as you can see from my previous post.
Overall, I felt that the service was better compared to that in Economy class. Perhaps it is because the flight attendants have fewer guests they have to assist so they were able to provide more attention to each of us? There was one time on a previous flight when Aaron had overhead a passenger in Economy with us, who complained to a flight attendant that he usually flew business class and that he was very disappointed about how much worst he was treated in Economy. In my opinion, in an ideal world, shouldn’t every paying customer be treated with respect regardless?
Meals + Drinks
The meal served was definitely more refined. Even the way it was served was nicer — in real plates/glasses with actual cutlery. We were given a warm towel prior to our meal which is not the default for Air Canada Economy class but definitely the default for a lot of other airlines. The food itself was definitely tastier. They even had bread which was warm and soft instead of the usual cold, hard buns! I was a little disappointed that there was only one special meal during the whole flight. The snack and the breakfast served was no different from usual. As for drinks, you can order alcoholic as well as non-alcoholic drinks which expanded your choices; however, this is the default for some other airlines (e.g. Porter), regardless of class.
After the flight, it was nice to have priority luggage so we were able to quickly pick up our bags as it is never fun waiting around at the carousel after a long flight if you happen to not be travelling carry-on only.
Accumulation of Miles
One benefit we realized after the trip was the fact that the accumulation of miles is significantly more when you fly Premium Economy compared to Economy. We earned 125% the Aeroplan and Altitude Qualifying Miles vs. the usual 25-50% with Economy. By flying Premium Economy for 2 one-way flights in the last year, Aaron was able to get enough miles to earn Silver Status for Aeroplan which allows us to have some benefits this year when we travel.
Domestic Flight Perks
We needed to take another connecting domestic flight to reach our final destination; however, there were no Premium Economy seats on this flight so we sat in Economy with a few perks. We were still able to have advanced seat selection of “Preferred Seats”, had priority boarding and had priority luggage. In terms of meals, we were given a meal credit to get a complimentary “meal” (e.g. sandwich, wrap, etc.) and snack from their bistro menu.
Overall, I felt that the benefits that were most worth paying more for were the more comfortable seats, better meal (x1) and the priority luggage. In terms of the amenity kits, better service, warm towels and such, this is something that is already a default for some other airlines even in Economy class, so I didn’t feel too blown away by these “benefits”. Of course, it was definitely very nice to have the chance to fly Premium Economy; however, it will probably not be possible or worthwhile to always do so. For tips on how to improve your travelling experience regardless of flight class check out my previous post!