Recently I got to go home to Australia to visit family. Qantas kindly bumped me up from Economy to Premium Economy – there’s a reason behind that one that I may share later. I have to say that I wasn’t looking forward to the trip home due to the rather squashed experience in Economy so the bump up made a lot of difference. I reviewed the new A380 Economy class last year. My review contrasts a little with Dan Warne from APC’s review in the roominess aspect but then I am well over 6 foot :)

There’s three things I like to measure the onboard experience on. Actually there’s four. One is probably moot I guess for this new an aircraft. Did anything break that caused it to be delayed? Thankfully as the A380 is so new this wasn’t an issue – though the 747’s last year seemed to have a terrible problem with this kind of issue – and one which caused me to avoid any of Qantas’ 747 flights. Plus the A380 is a wonderful and quiet aircraft….period.

In Flight Entertainment

Premium Economy has all the same in-flight entertainment systems that Dan shows screen shots for and that I was enthusiastic about it in my review. This is a truly excellent offering with on demand play and the ability to pause content in the middle of a screening. Though parents, please be warned. There is some pretty graphic (adult) content on some of the channels that you may want to get blocked before your children discover it first. The great thing is that Qantas does offer the ability to censor this content. Enough said… Ill let you peruse Dan’s review about the in-flight entertainment as he has a few nice screenshots

Also take the time to check out the tail camera when you take off and land. Its awesome!

Room, room and more room

The big thing for me was the room. For me its always about the room. I remember suggesting an option like this to imageQantas years ago after I got to try out British Airway’s (BA) World Traveller Plus (essentially Premium Economy). Qantas, while taking years to offer something to address the price point chasm between Business and Economy, have certainly outdone BA with their offering. I loved the seat size and the recline. The seat has all the features you would want. Very decent seat recline, foot rest, seat power and all the mod cons. I actually got some pretty decent sleep in it too. Much much better than economy and my feet didn’t swell up like crazy like in economy. No pain shooting down my leg either. Wonderful!

Food and Service

Airlines are often maligned for their food, though I guess that’s not a problem in America anymore as none of them offer anything complimentary like Qantas does. They all seem to have gone bargain basement discount shopper style of airline. So I never complain about the Qantas food and to be fair, Qantas’ food really isn’t that bad though I have noticed a quality drop in International Economy recently. So what about Premium Economy food? Fantastic. This is much more like Business Class food (aka looks normal and very nice) and the service was fabulous. The onboard staff, like Dan mentioned, seem to have come from another kinder and friendlier part of Qantas.

Conclusion

I really liked Premium Economy. It had all the things I needed. Was I totally comfortable? No of course not. The totally flat Business class skybed allows you to elevate your legs properly but at the cost and tough times these days, many businesses just cant justify it.

If you get the chance to try it out – do it. Even if you use your points to bump up from Economy – do it. Its totally worth it especially if you’re tall and need the room like me. In tough times like these, businesses looking to save costs by trimming Business Class travel now have a great alternative to what I would consider to be an pretty overpriced offering. Premium Economy is priced right between Business and Economy and for those long haul flights is something that should be seriously considered.