Airlines are getting rid of business class suites to make way for more premium economy.

That’s according to Bloomberg, who report airlines are ripping out business class to make space for a super profitable “middle class” of seat – premium economy.

They cited the pandemic as one of the reasons airlines are opting to invest more in premium economy rather than business, explaining that with corporate travel having been “whacked” carriers need another way to make money.

While many tourists are keen to avoid cattle class, most people can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars for an expansive suite every time they go on holiday.

Enter: premium economy. The new home for a burgeoning number of leisure travellers.

Juha Jarvinen, chief commercial officer at Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd, told Bloomberg: “People are desperate to take charge of their lives now, and airlines can no longer force them into just one or two categories.”

Lufthansa Technik (German airline Lufthansa’s maintanence and repair group), told Bloomberg some Asia-based airlines had enquired about getting rid of business class entirely, so profitable was premium econonomy (40% more profitable per square foot, according to some metrics).

In America, the big three carriers (American, United, and Delta) are all putting in premium-economy cabins in their three aisle planes.

As for the Middle East, Emirates in September announced: “We will be receiving three more A380 aircraft from Airbus this year, with our last A380 on order scheduled to join our fleet in November.”

Crucially: “All three new A380s will be fitted out with our popular Premium Economy cabin along with our latest A380 cabin interiors.”

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Finnair, too, is jumping on the bandwagon, adding premium economy to all 27 of its widebody planes (per Bloomberg’s report).

Singapore Airlines and British Airways already had premium economy before The Bat Kiss swept the world in 2020.

As for whether premium economy is worth it; consider the following.

Per Skyscanner, “There is quite a big difference between economy and premium economy, primarily in terms of space. Generally speaking, airlines give you roughly 12-18cm (5-7in) extra legroom space, 3-5cm (1-2in) extra seat-width space, and 5-7cm (2-3in) extra seat reclining space in premium economy seats.”

“If you like to stretch out your legs (or are just tall) and hate fighting for elbow space, you’ll find upgrading will afford you more comfort in-flight.”

Other benefits include better meals and snacks, as well as (depending on the airline) lounge access and free drinks.

Food for thought.

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