Premium economy is an important product throughout the world, positioning itself between business class and economy. It’s usually offered on long haul flights and depending on the carrier approximates domestic first class in the US perhaps with foot rests. There may be an upgraded meal and beverages as well.
US airlines on the other hand have extra legroom sections with generally the same seat width. American Airlines, at least, has had 9-abreast seating in their “Main Cabin Extra” extra legroom sections on Boeing 777s but is moving those to 10-abreast in their denser-configuration Boeing 777-200s. And 9-across just kept seat width at what it “used to be” in coach.
American, Delta, and United do not offer a true premium economy though Delta is apparently adding curtain dividers between “Comfort+” and standard economy on some aircraft. But it’s still the same coach seeats.
Could American be the first to change that with a true premium economy product? According to Australian Business Traveller it’s under consideration:
American Airlines and Malaysia Airlines could both launch premium economy class next year, although Oneworld partner Qatar Airways has ruled out adopting better-than-economy seating.
…”We’re looking at it,” American Airlines CEO Doug Parker told Australian Business Traveller earlier this month, after a pause to carefully choose his words. “We think there’s a lot of opportunity there.”
The Singapore Airlines premium economy product has ~ 19 inches of width, 38 inch pitch, and a 13.3-inch HD monitor. Passengers receive noise-cancelling headphones. There’s seat power, 2 USB ports, and designated storage for water bottle, mobile phone and laptop.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a US airline go for this, at least with the hard product. I can’t imagine them following Singapore’s lead with an extensive “Book the Cook” pre-order meal option like Singapore now extensds to premium economy (albeit with more limited choices). Nor will they offer Singapore’s respectable champagne.
I don’t think any of the US carriers will make the big bet on premium economy that Turkish Airlines did. There’s a limited market for sure. But there is a market for something between a dreadful economy long haul experience and a super-luxe business class one.