Faced with increasing competition from international carriers as well as among themselves, US airlines are investing in new premium economy seats, cabins and amenities.
While two of the three major legacy airlines — American and Delta — are putting the equivalent of long-haul international premium economy on some of their jets, even smaller carriers have upped their game in the space between economy and first class. Meanwhile, United seems to be trailing the pack, saying that it’s investigating new premium economy options, but sticking with its old-school Economy Plus seating with slightly more legroom for the time being.
Here is a breakdown of premium economy offerings on US airlines, and what you can expect when flying each. Just one note before continuing: Obviously comparing an old product like United Economy Plus or a product meant for mostly domestic routes like Alaska’s Premium Class to an international configuration like American’s or Delta’s is a little like comparing a bicycle to a motorcycle. However, this is simply meant to be a snapshot of the current more-than-economy seating options available on US airlines.
|Airline||Seat Size||Aircraft||Awards & Upgrades||Extra Amenities|
|Alaska||17-18.25 in. x 35-36 in.||737-800, 737-900, E175||No awards, but MVP elites eligible for upgrades.||Priority boarding, free snacks and beverages.|
|American||19 in. x 38 in.(Main Cabin Extra 17-18 in. x 33-37 in.)||A330-200, 787-9, 777-200, 777-300ER||Awards and mileage upgrades are not available yet, but should be in the future.||Priority check-in, security, boarding, baggage & meals. Minimal amenity kits.|
|Delta||18.5-19 in. x 38 in.(Delta Comfort+ 17-18 in. x 34-35 in.)||A350, 777-200 (in 2018)||Complimentary upgrades not available. Delta Diamond Medallions can use Global Upgrade Certificates.||Priority check-in, security, boarding, baggage & meals plus TUMI amenity kits & Westin blankets.|
|Hawaiian||17.3-18 in. x 36-37 in.||A330-200, A321neo||Not available as awards, but paid and elite upgrades available.||Priority ground services, premium meals and free entertainment.|
|JetBlue||17.8-18.25 in. x 37 -41 in.||A320, A321, E190||TrueBlue Mosaic elites can redeem points for upgrades.||Even More Speed expedited security and boarding.|
|United||17-18 in. x 34-35 in.||All United & most United Express jets||Premier members eligible for complimentary upgrades||Paid “Travel Options” bundles that include priority boarding, checked bags and more miles.|
|Virgin America||17.7 in. x 37-38 in.||A319, A320, A321||Only paid upgrades on cash or award bookings. Elevate Gold and Silver & Alaska MPVs eligible for free upgrades.||Priority security & boarding, free checked bag, entertainment and food and drink items.|