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Emirates' A380 Premium Economy cabin (backview). Emirates is taking its signature A380 experience to the next level with the unveiling of a brand new Premium Economy cabin product, together with enhancements and a refreshed look across all cabins aboard its newest A380 aircraft.

Dubai: As the aviation industry navigates the “next normal” following COVID-19 turbulence, competition in the premium economy segment is set to hot up. In 1992, only one airline (EVA Air) had a premium economy offer. In January 2021, at least 65 of the world’s leading airlines offer premium economy — in one form or another.

In December, Emirates announced the launch of a brand-new premium economy class. It is currently offered as a complimentary upgrade. But Dubai’s flagship carrier has plans to retrofit its fleet of Airbus A380s with premium economy seats.

What is premium economy?

This is the bridge between economy class and business class. The facilities differ depending on the airline and the specific aircraft, but generally, it’s an upgraded experience from economy, but not as luxurious as business or first class.

Is it cheaper?

  • Premium economy fares can be 60 to 65% cheaper than business class fares.
  • In the case of Emirates, the premium economy fare could be 30% more than the economy fare, according to an aviation expert.
  • Based on current prices available on travel websites, this would translate to fares of about Dh2,171 for Emirates’ Dubai-London flights, compared to the economy ticket price of Dh1,670.
  • An Emirates premium economy seat from Dubai to Mumbai would cost around Dh676, compared to the current economy fare of Dh520.
Premium Economy Emirates
Image Credit: Seyyed dela Llata / Gulf News
Last month (December 29, 2020), Emirates launched its brand-new premium economy class. This would make the carrier one among a handful of global airlines to provide the service. Although offered as a complimentary upgrade at the moment, Dubai’s flagship carrier has plans to retrofit its massive fleet (112 planes) of Airbus A380 superjumbos with premium economy seats going forward.

How’s it different?

A typical premium economy fare includes around 5-7 inches of extra legroom, wider seats, and more space to recline. A separate food menu and enhanced entertainment may also be included.

What is Emirates offering?

With a pitch of up to 40-inches, the carrier’s premium economy seat is 19.5 inches wide, and reclines 8 inches into a cradle position with enough room to stretch out.

Each seat has a 13.3-inch screen, which according to Emirates is one of the largest in its class. Customers will also get easily accessible in-seat charging points, a wide dining table and side cocktail table.

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With a generous pitch of up to 40-inches, Emirates’ premium economy seat is 19.5 inches wide, and reclines 8 inches into a comfortable cradle position with ample room to stretch out. Covered in cream-coloured anti-stain leather with stitching details and a wood panel finishing similar to Business Class, each seat is designed to provide optimal comfort and support with 6-way adjustable headrests, calf rests and footrests.

There are health benefits too. Traveling long hours with a back pain can be a nightmarish experience for many. If one has the means or the miles, they should consider upgrading their seat on a long flight. Your back will feel much more comfortable in a roomy business-class or premium economy seat.

Seat pitch
A seat’s pitch refers to the measurement of space between one point on an aircraft passenger seat to the same point on the seat in front of it.

It’s measured in inches or centimetres. The higher the number, the more legroom and space you’ll have between your seat and the one in front of you.
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Customers will also find thoughtful touches including easily accessible in-seat charging points, a wide dining table and side cocktail table.

Who started it all?

Taiwan’s EVA Air was the first airline to launch premium economy in 1992. Since then, at least 65 other airlines have offered the service.

Premium economy offers: A snapshot

Singapore Airlines

The flagship carrier’s premium economy seats are designed in an exclusive spacious, 2-4-2 cabin, with a greater width of up to 19.5 inches for more comfort along with a calf-rest, foot-rest and generous 8-inch recline. Travelers will also find USB ports built within their seats, apart from a fully adjustable personal reading light and the power supply needed to charge personal electronic devices.

Cathay Pacific

The airline’s premium economy has a generous recline, expanded legroom and a supported head rest. A larger meal table makes working and dining easier, while additional storage space allows travelers to keep personal items conveniently close.


The German carrier offers a spacious, comfortable seat with up to 50% more room on all sides. The practical travel kit at the seat will help the passenger arrive at the destination feeling refreshed. There is also a comprehensive in-flight entertainment programme on 11- or 12-inch monitors.

British Airways

The airline’s seats are wider, with greater recline, lumbar support, a head and footrest, plus extra legroom to stretch out. A quilt and cushion add an extra layer of comfort when it’s time to rest — there’s also a special amenity kit.