For passengers traveling on long-haul flights, upgrading to a premium economy seat can be a useful investment if the price is right. As well as offering precious extra space, these tickets often come with other perks, too, such as a greater luggage allowance and better onboard catering. With this in mind, let’s take a look at which European-registered airliners offer the greatest capacity for this class of travel.
For certain low-cost and leisure carriers, having a fully-fledged business class cabin wouldn’t necessarily align with the requirements of their operating model. However, premium cabins can still be a handy way of gaining extra revenue from passengers looking for a bit more comfort, so premium economy is a good balance.
According to data from ch-aviation.com, the European-registered airliners with the largest premium economy cabins are TUI’s Boeing 787-9 ‘Dreamliners.’ These twinjets have 63 premium economy seats onboard, laid out in nine rows of seven-abreast (2-3-2) seating. They offer 36 inches of pitch, compared to 33 in economy.
Photo: Jake Hardiman | Simple Flying
Interestingly enough, young low-cost carrier Norse Atlantic Airways has a similar model, with the 56 premium economy seats on its Boeing 787-9s (again, laid out seven abreast) also representing its best offering. These seats offer an impressive 46 inches of pitch, which is undoubtedly much appreciated by Norse Atlantic’s passengers, given the carriers’ 787s’ use on the lucrative transatlantic corridor.
Sitting equal with Norse Atlantic’s Boeing 787-9s’ sizeable premium economy cabin is something a little bit different. Specifically, we have a 21-year-old Airbus A330-300 operated by none other than Turkish charter carrier Air Anka.
This aircraft, which bears the registration TC-NYA, previously flew for Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) before joining Air Anka in July last year. All in all, 56 of its 266 seats can be found in the aircraft’s premium economy cabin, and they offer 38 inches of pitch, compared to 31-32 in economy. As with the above-mentioned airliners, they are laid out seven abreast.
Speaking of SAS, the Nordic carrier also has rather sizeable premium economy cabins on its own Airbus A330-300s. These aircraft have an identical layout to the Air Anka example, suggesting that the Turkish charter carrier was happy to retain the existing three-class configuration of its ex-SAS jet. However, Scandinavian Airlines’ aircraft are younger, at 12 years old on average.
Sticking with the multinational European planemaker, Airbus’ A350-1000 model is another aircraft with 56 premium economy seats onboard at not one but two European carriers. Both Virgin Atlantic and British Airways have configured their XWB series aircraft in this manner, with seven rows of eight seats in a 2-4-2 layout. In each instance, these seats offer a generous seat pitch of 38 inches.
On British Airways’ A350-1000s, the premium economy cabin is known as World Traveller Plus, and data from aeroLOPA shows that it is situated over the wings in rows 20 to 26. Virgin Atlantic, on the other hand, has two A350-1000 layouts, with leisure-oriented aircraft having premium economy in the front section. On A350s with a larger Upper Class cabin, premium economy is located over the wings.