Last month, Chicago-based United Airlines revealed it would be launching new premium economy cabins. The product officially went on sale on the 3rd December.


According to Forbes, the premium economy cabins, branded United Premium Plus, sit in a unique zone between traditional international economy and business class. Over the last decade, major air carriers have redefined the scope of international business class, incorporating more lie-flat seats and premium service to the cabins. That move has reduced the need of international first class – but it has also widened the gap between economy and business class cabins.


Premium economy cabins have now been deployed to fill in the gap between economy and business. In addition to providing wider seats and generous leg room, United’s Premium Plus cabins come with free checked bags, priority boarding and an enhanced in-flight catering experience alleviating a number of pain points that many see in economy cabins.


Passengers will of course pay for the luxuries. For example, airfare between San Francisco and Auckland – a route in which Premium Plus will be offered from 30th March – would cost around $3,219 for a premium economy fare, while an economy fare costs $1,080. The lie-flat business class seats cost $7,615.


Award seats in Premium Plus, too, have been loaded. Though the price may seem high to some frequent flyers, it will come as a cheaper alternative to those who would usually pay to fly international business class. The blog Point me to the Plane ran a search for premium economy fares on United routes to Japan and found that while one-way economy fares cost 35,000 miles, Premium Plus cost 135,000. One way business class fares on those routes cost 175,000 miles.    


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