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By Ed Perkins
If you're planning a summer trip across the Atlantic or the Pacific, you know how unpleasant those long flights can be in the confines of an economy seat sized to accommodate jockeys and Russian gymnasts. A few lines offer relief from that sardine-can crowding, but at prices that might give you pause.
Here's a current rundown of summer premium economy fares (and regular economy fares for comparison) from all the airlines that offer genuine premium economy from the United States.
By "genuine" premium economy, I mean seats that offer extra legroom and extra seat width. And most lines include upgraded cabin service and generally better in-flight entertainment hardware, as well.
My fare quotes are all for a round-trip, July 1 to 15, and cover fares and all applicable taxes, as quoted in late March. I cite fares for nonstop flights between Chicago and each line's primary overseas gateway, except in cases where the airline does not serve Chicago or does not fly nonstop. (Don't you hate that everyone always quotes fare from New York and nowhere else?)
- Air France, Chicago to Paris, regular economy $1,422, premium economy $2,300.
- ANA, Chicago to Tokyo, regular economy $1,382, premium economy $2,147.
- EVA, San Francisco to Taipei, regular economy $1,202, premium economy, $1,662.
- SAS, Chicago to Copenhagen, regular economy $985, premium economy $1,903.
- V Australia, Los Angeles to Sydney, regular economy $1,145, premium economy $2,146.
- Virgin Atlantic, Chicago to London, regular economy $1,250, premium economy $1,979.
- For reference, I also checked "Biz Seat" business class on Open Skies, Washington to Paris, at $1,746 a better product for a lower price than on Air France -- go figure.
Fares and fare differences from other U.S. gateways should be relatively consistent with these figures.
For some reason, the price premium for a premium seat varies substantially from one airline to another:
- The lowest price premiums, 23 percent on EVA and 25 percent on
- Quite a few lines charge price premiums in the range of 45 percent to 60 percent, which is high enough to give you pause when you consider what else that money would buy.
- The very stiff premiums of 87 percent on V Australia, 93 percent on SAS, and 122 percent on
Several of the fares I cite in both classes are labeled as restricted "sale" fares that may or may not be available by the time you start planning your trip. In a few cases, I could have found slightly lower regular economy fares by altering the travel dates by a few days or accepting connections.
A parting comment: I can't believe that the big lines will be able to keep to the very high fares they're currently quoting for midsummer tickets in regular economy. But your guess is as good as mine.
© Ed Perkins
Travel | Premium Economy for Overseas Trips