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With so many carriers now offering a Premium Economy option across the Atlantic I recently took the decision to start reviewing some of these cabins to see what they offer and to see if they’re worth the premium they charge.
To that end, this year, I’ve already flown in American Airlines’ 777-300ER Premium Economy cabin on a daytime flight to LA, I’ve just tried out the American Airlines 777-200 Premium Economy cabin (another daytime flight) and I was booked to try out the airline’s Premium Economy cabin on a 10+ hour overnight flight to London.
That last flight was set to be a real test of Premium Economy as, no matter what anyone says, most of us can put up with an Economy Class seat on a daytime flight if we really have to – it was going to be interesting to see just how much more comfortable than Economy Class the Premium Economy cabin is when it comes to getting some sleep.
On the day of departure for my overnight Premium Economy flight I decided to check-in via the American Airlines app and, as usual, the first thing I did was check the seat map – I wanted to see if I had anyone sitting next to me and, if I did, I wanted to see if there were any open seats that may yet give me an empty seat next to me.
The news was good. I had no one next to me and the cabin was looking nice and sparse.
I had deliberately not chosen the exit row as I wanted to experience what most passengers would experience when booking Premium Economy but an empty seat next to me was a nice bonus.
It was at the next stage of check-in that my will was tested – American offered me an upgrade to Business Class.
$414 to move from a reclining seat to a seat that I very recently called “one of the best Business Class seats available” would have been tempting on most occasions, but on this day it was more tempting than normal.
Firstly, the flight was set to take over 10 hours so there would be plenty of time to have a proper rest – this wasn’t just a quick flight from the East Coast to London.
Secondly, I still had my $200 airline credit from my Amex Platinum Card intact and, as it has recently become unclear whether this airline credit will continue to work with gift card purchases, I’ve been looking for another way to use it – this could be a very good occasion to do just that.
Should the upgrade fee trigger the Amex Platinum airline credit the cost to upgrade would drop to just $214…and if the upgrade wasn’t a no-brainer at $414 it certainly was at $214!
To give myself a little credit I didn’t jump on the upgrade immediately (I genuinely wanted to test out the Premium Economy cabin on an overnight flight) and I decided to see just how empty the Business Class cabin was.
ExpertFlyer showed that there were still quite a few seats available to sell….
…and the seat map told the full story:
That was a lot of empty seats and, although seat maps aren’t always the best indicator to use, this close to the time of departure it was clear that the Business Class cabin would be going out a lot lighter than normal.
I couldn’t turn down a lie-flat seat on a 10+ hour flight when it was on offer for a maximum of $414 (and possibly just $214).
Amusingly, despite the fact that the cabin was half-empty, the American Airlines algorithm still assigned me a seat in the last row…..
…which I quickly changed to a window seat in row 4.
Before the flight I had a nice meal in the Qantas First Class lounge (a review will be forthcoming) which meant I could pass on the main meal served onboard and get a proper night’s sleep….which is exactly what I did.
I genuinely felt a little guilty for taking the upgrade as I really should have been reviewing the Premium Economy cabin but it was definitely the right decision in the end – it turned out to be one of the most restful flights I’ve had in years!
American Airlines tested my resolve and I was found wanting so I’m clearly a man with no willpower whatsoever….but at least I’m a well-rested man with no willpower whatsoever 🙂