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Premium Economy vs. Economy: Is Flying Premium Economy Worth it?

With more airlines moving towards the premium economy model for travellers who want what was once the industry standard, it’s a challenge to know what’s included in your flight fare. At Skyscanner New Zealand, we’ll cover the top things you need to consider when deciding between economy and premium economy tickets as well as which airlines are worth the splurge. 

What does a premium economy ticket include?

Unfortunately, there is no standard for what a premium economy flight ticket includes. Tickets can offer extended leg room, meals, a dedicated seating section, checked baggage, larger entertainment screens, power outlets, extra baggage, seat selection priority, amenity kits, self-serve bars, and other extras. Some airlines may include all of these features in their standard fare while others may include none of the above.

Typically, premium economy means that you’ll get a bigger seat with at least ten centimeters of extra leg room. The only way to know is to check directly with the airline itself. 

Young woman sitting with phone on the aircraft seat near the window during the flight in the airplane

Most domestic flights won’t offer premium economy as an option, as it’s usually reserved for planes that fly international routes. 

The cost of premium economy 

The cost of an premium economy ticket versus an economy ticket varies between routes, travel dates, and airlines. On average, premium economy costs about 25% more than the airline’s economy ticket. If you’re travelling during high season or during a holiday, expect to pay even more.

Is premium economy with the price?

While each traveller is different when it comes to their flight preferences, here are a few factors to consider:

1. Seat size

If you’re tall, it could be worth spending just that little bit extra to avoid feeling crammed. If your seat is large enough for you to rest comfortably, you’ll arrive at your destination feeling rested — that alone is priceless for many. 

2. Baggage

Always check the baggage weight and size limits for economy and premium economy passengers. If you are travelling with luggage, it’s often worth the upgrade to avoid excess baggage fees. Many times, the cost of luggage versus the cost of premium economy is nearly the same, making premium economy a great value. 

3. Trip length

While nearly every traveller can survive even the most cramped and uncomfortable short haul flight, it makes a huge difference to be comfortable when you’re on a flight that spans eight hours or more. Consider how long you’ll be in the air for and if you have multiple stopovers, it may be worth purchasing a premium economy ticket for at least the longest stretch. 

The best premium economy seats for Kiwi travellers

No airline is exactly the same when it comes to premium economy perks. If you do want to pay more for a better airtime experience, these are the best airlines that offer premium economy seats

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand is consistently ranked as one of the world’s top 4-star airlines according to Skytrax and is the best-value premium economy airline for Kiwi travellers. 

In Air New Zealand’s premium economy class you’ll be seated in large, plush leather seats with extended legroom. The seats recline more than those in economy class. Your fare includes two carry on bags (7kgs each) as well as two checked bags (23kgs each), a toiletry kit, extra inflight entertainment options, and food and drinks from an extended menu. 

Virgin Australia

Virgin Australia is an airline that doesn’t skimp on its premium economy offerings. 

In premium economy, travellers get a larger seat with extra leg room, a 10.6-inch entertainment screen, power outlet, USB connection, an extra selection of food served on fine dining plating, access to the self-serve pantry, priority check in, and additional baggage allowance depending on the route.  


For Qantas premium economy travellers, you’ll be seated in a private area, have access to priority check in, have extra legroom as well as a wider seat, and be given an amenity kit if your flight is overnight. Dining is a joy in Qantas premium economy thanks to its exclusive menu, ceramic tableware, and self-serve treat bar. Some premium economy flights have a power outlet, USB ports, and noise cancelling headphones included in their entertainment system. 

Ready to fly? Skyscanner New Zealand can help you discover premium economy tickets, hotels, and car hire options for your next journey.