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If you’ve primarily flown domestically with US carriers, you might think that “premium economy” means those seats with a couple more inches of legroom. That isn’t exactly the case. True premium economy class does include extra legroom, of course, but it also generally comes with more width and a few more inches of recline, as well as other benefits that may include, for example, better food options, in-flight internet access, and a larger personal entertainment screen.
Are you sold on the idea yet? If so, you’ll be glad to hear that US carriers have started moving toward offering it. American Airlines will have a true premium economy class starting in early 2017 (and already offers it on a few select international routes originating from DFW). Delta, too, plans to offer premium economy in 2017, at least on certain flights. Fortunately, you don’t need to wait that long: you can now redeem your Delta SkyMiles for premium economy seats on Virgin Atlantic. Whether it’s worth it, however, is another question
The Good News:
- You can book your premium economy flight with SkyMiles starting immediately.
- You’ll enjoy a spacious seat, an “upgraded dining experience,” power outlets at your seat, and an amenity kit on certain flights.
- Priority boarding is included.
- It’s available to book online right now; phone bookings will be available on December 1st.
The Not So Good News:
- It costs a whopping 55,000 SkyMiles each way. (More on this below.)
- At least for now, this option is only available on Virgin Atlantic flights from the US to the UK.
As exciting as it is to be able to use your Delta SkyMiles for a true premium economy experience, the cost makes it very hard to justify. When you compare one-way costs of 55,000 miles for premium economy to 30,000 for economy, it becomes harder to justify the use of so many extra miles (unless you’re absolutely rolling in them). After all, a round-trip economy ticket will cost only 5,000 miles more than a one-way premium economy ticket.
Pricing-wise, the premium economy seats are closer to business class, which cost only 15,000 miles more for a total of 70,000 SkyMiles each way. The relative closeness of these costs makes the premium economy option seem like a decoy option designed to push customers who might otherwise have chosen economy toward booking business class. After all, if you’re considering using 55,000 SkyMiles, it’s easy to justify using “just 15,000 more” for business class — much easier than mentally justifying an extra 40,000 to go from economy to business class.
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