Air Travel

7 New Premium Economy Cabins We Can't Wait to Fly

From seats with pod-like shells to better catering options, these premium economy cabins have newly upgraded amenities we're excited to try.
Airplane wing

Not everyone is lucky enough to indulge in business and first class when flying long distances. But fortunately for cost-conscious fliers, more-affordable premium economy cabins are not only becoming more prevalent, but they're also offering a more luxurious experience. A growing number of airlines are doubling down on the idea of premium economy, adding the cabin class to more planes or upgrading their current premium economy product with roomier seats and swankier amenities.

Here are the brand new premium economy cabins and seats we can’t wait to fly in.

Finnair's new premium economy cabin features a full leg rest and deeper recline than regular coach.

Courtesy Finnair

All-new cabins with more privacy, better dining, and comfier amenities

KLM is introducing a premium economy cabin, “Premium Comfort,” later this year, with wider seats that will have more leg room, greater recline, larger entertainment screens, and a foot rest. The new cabin, which will range between 21 and 28 seats, will also have its own catering concept: hot entrees with a meat, fish, or vegetarian option, followed by dessert service of ice cream and liqueurs, as well as snacks and cocktails in between. The cabin is set to launch on the airline’s Amsterdam-to-New York JFK route in late July.

Finnair’s recently launched premium economy cabin is part of an overall $203 million investment in its onboard product. The new seats are currently flying from Finland to Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, New York JFK, and Singapore, and feature a six-way headrest, memory foam cushion, eight more inches of leg space than economy, and a leg rest. While flying in the new cabin, passengers enjoy a three-course meal on bespoke chinaware from Finnish designer Harri Koskinen and Finnish design icon, Iittala. The neck pillow and blanket have attractive patterns from Marimekko, a Finnair signature.

Proving the point that premium vacation travel is booming, German leisure airline Condor is taking delivery of new Airbus A330neo planes this summer with an especially large, 64-seat premium economy cabin. That's more than twice the size of its business class with seats that feature more legroom and greater recline than economy.

In Swiss's new premium economy class, passengers get a choice of three meal options created for the cabin.

Swiss International Air Lines

On its Boeing B777-300ER, Swiss International has launched a new premium economy cabin, too. Their 15.6-inch entertainment screens complement the seat’s greater width and recline (it slides forward, rather than leaning back, creating more of a cradle position). Premium economy passengers on Swiss also board early so they can get settled while sipping elderberry welcome drinks before takeoff. In the air, they have three meal choices, an amenity kit, and readily accessible power outlets.

Better seats—including lie-flats and pod-like recliners—coming soon

When United receives its new Airbus A321XLR aircraft in 2024, they will be the airline’s first narrow-body jet to come fitted with premium economy, too. When they debut, the new planes will feature the same Premium Plus seats currently flying on United’s wide-body planes, which offer deeper recline and more legroom than regular coach. United also recently began a new partnership with the luggage brand Away for its onboard amenity kits on international flights. Away-branded reusable “sports pouches” filled with Sunday Riley skincare products await at every seat in Premium Plus (Polaris business class gets miniature hard-sided kits that look just like the line’s spinner bags).

Lufthansa will soon install a new premium economy seat on its Boeing 747-8 aircraft that has small privacy shields on either side. The seat will include a fixed-shell sheet that preserves your personal space even when the person in front of you reclines, which also makes it easier to reach the aisle from the window seat and makes it feel more spacious. Other airlines with similar hard-shell premium economy seats include Air New Zealand and Air France.

While there are no premium economy seats that lie completely flat just yet, some airplane seat manufacturers have their eye on a revolutionary new seat. Zephyr Aerospace wants to introduce a fully-flat option that includes seats with plenty of stretching room. They're stacked in a double-decker layout to maximize the number of seats within the cabin while providing direct access to the aisle. Passengers can lie flat for rest or sit up with ample space to work or relax.

For now, Air New Zealand is the closest to offering a premium economy lie-flat option, as the airline confirmed the launch of its new SkyNest product. The SkyNest is an area for both premium and regular economy passengers that features a set of six bunk beds. The beds will be bookable for four-hour windows—in addition to passengers’ regular seats—onboard the airline’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner ultra-long-haul flights starting in 2024.

Investing in bigger and better seats is a costly move for airlines, but as demand for a comfier alternative to coach remains strong, airlines are getting more and more innovative with the type of seats, amenities, and other perks offered in their premium economy cabins.