Class warfare takes to the skies as Emirates joins the ranks of carriers considering a new economy-plus seat
So I hear Emirates Airline is planning a new class of seats
They say they’re considering it. It’s called premium economy.
What does that mean?
It’s basically a bigger seat than economy, but not as nice as business. Sort of for people who are reasonably well off but not quite sure they want to shred their holiday money on business.
Do other airlines do it?
Virgin Atlantic has been doing it for years and it’s very popular. The seats are much nicer than economy and the main difference is that you don’t get the same food options as business. If you don’t mind having a big meal before you fly, it’s well worth it.
Is it much cheaper than business?
Yes, maybe halfway between the price of business and economy. Lufthansa also launched its premium economy cabin on Gulf routes last year. The seats are 50 percent bigger in terms of legroom than economy, and they recline by 50 percent more.
Why is everyone doing this?
Comes down to cash. If you take, for example, a return flight to London on Emirates, it could cost AED4,000 on economy, AED14,000 on business and AED25,000 on first. Just not enough people – or companies – are booking first or business. A new class starts to make sense.
But I thought all the focus was on fancy first-class cabins?
It is. In fact Emirates is planning to launch a brand new first class cabin in 2018. And don’t forget Etihad has the super-luxurious penthouse on its A380 planes. But there are only 12 to 16 seats here; the airlines need to make more money from the rest of the planes.
Are all Gulf airlines doing this?
Not quite. FlyDubai has gone the other way, introducing business class on its low-cost flights. And Qatar – well that’s a different case. They are still only after the super-rich crowd. Their CEO said last week that they didn’t really want “backpackers” as they don’t spend enough money.
Is first-class travel dead, then?
Not quite. Many airlines are looking at two class cabins in the future – just business and first.