Iberia To Introduce Premium Economy Seating In 2017

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Its sister airline, British Airways, has had Premium Economy cabins for years, its transatlantic one world partner, American Airlines, will be introducing Premium Economy in 2017 and now Iberia is joining the club. From the first half of next year Iberia will begin to fit Premium Economy cabins to a number of its wide-body aircraft….but not on all of them.

Iberia Introducing Premium Economy

From Summer 2017 we can expect to see Iberia rolling out its new Premium Economy cabin on its Airbus A330-300 and A340-600 aircraft but, interestingly, there’s no mention of the airline’s Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

The airline has said that, eventually, the Premium Economy cabin will be found on 37 of its wide-body aircraft with 13 A340-600s and 8 A330-300s begin the first to get the new cabin. The 16 aircraft that take the total up to 37 are Airbus A350s that Iberia currently has on order and is expected to have delivered in 2018….so no re-fit for the A330-200s.

Iberia Premium Economy Cabin

As yet Iberia hasn’t confirmed how many Premium Economy seats it expects to fit into each aircraft or how the seats will be configured…but here is what we do know.

iberia-premium-economy-seatsIberia Premium Economy Seating – image courtesy of Iberia

  • In the image supplied the aircraft has a 2-3-2 cabin layout and that would make sense for the Airbus A330-300 and the A340-600s considering regular economy is set out in a 2-4-2 formation.
  • Seat width will be a little under 19″ (48cm) as compared to 18″ (46cm) in economy class
  • Seat pitch will be 37″ (94cm) compared to the 31″ (80cm) currently found in Economy Class.

iberia-premium-economy-2Iberia Premium Economy Seating – image courtesy of Iberia

  • The seat recline is set to be increased by 40% over Economy Class –  7″ (18cm) vs 5″ (13cm)
  • Premium Economy IFE screens will be 12″ compared to 9″ in Economy Class

iberia-premium-economy-ife-screensIberia Premium Economy IFE – image courtesy of Iberia

  • Premium Economy will feature adjustable footrests as well as the adjustable headrests already featured in the Economy Class cabin.

As well as a larger seat with a larger IFE screen Iberia’s Premium Economy passengers can expect:

  • Advance seat selection
  • Dedicated check-in desk.
  • Increased luggage allowance.
  • Preferential luggage handling and priority delivery.
  • Priority boarding
  • Upgraded dining options (no details yet released)
  • Amenity kit
  • Noise-cancelling headphones
  • Blanket & pillow

Some of Iberia’s routes from Madrid will be first to feature the new Premium Economy product with Buenos Aires, Chicago and Lima expected the be the first destinations to which the refurbished aircraft will fly.

Thoughts

Iberia already offers a comparatively generous 18″ of seat width on its long haul fleet (compared to 17″ or 17.5″ on most airlines) so the major improvement passengers will see from the hard-product will be in the increased seat pitch (leg room) of 37″. That’s a good step up from what’s currently offered in Economy Class although it’s 1″ less than what’s offered on British Airways.

Based on the images provided by Iberia it looks as if the best seats will be at the front of the Premium Economy cabin as those appear to have true extending leg-rests……

iberia-premium-economy

…..while the other seats will just have a leg-bar:

iberia-premium-economy-4Iberia Premium Economy Cabin

A larger IFE screen and noise-cancelling headphones are nice touches but with so many passengers now traveling with their own tablets/laptops/phones and their own headphones I don’t see this as being a major product differentiator from Economy Class….they’re certainly not something I suspect most people will pay a premium for.

We don’t yet have any details on what the new food offerings will be and as I haven’t flown in Iberia Economy Class for years I can’t really comment on how nice it will be to have an improved choice of food.

Looking at the other benefits that Iberia will be offering to passengers booking Premium Economy it looks like the main winners will be those without mid-tier or higher Iberia/oneworld status.

Advance seat selection, dedicated check-in desks, increased luggage allowance and priority boarding are all benefits that come with oneworld Sapphire and Emerald status so they’re not really going to be an added benefit for a lot of frequent flyers.

What this all means is that the major aspect of Premium Economy that passengers will be paying for is the seat and the increased room that it provides – we’ll have to wait and see how Iberia prices up its new Premium Economy product before we know just how good or bad a deal this will be.