Our Air France A380 parked at SFO. Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter
Thanks to Delta, I found a smashing deal to fly an Airbus A380 for the first time, and not in economy! My wife and I were married late last year, but postponed our honeymoon because we wanted to visit Europe during the warmer months.
We lucked out and found a very low fare valid for this past September, from San Francisco to Istanbul, in the Premium Economy section of Delta partner Air France. This would be our first time flying the A380, as well as the first time in decades flying on Air France. I was cautiously optimistic about what flying Premium Economy would be like, and I subscribed to the mantra of, “anything’s better than coach,” or even my flight on a CRJ-200 the day before.
Would I be severely disappointed?
My ride to Frankfurt, a Condor 767-300ER (reg: D-ABUB)
I recently decided to take a trip over to Frankfurt for a few days and, thankfully, I was able to take it in Premium Economy.
This was going to be my first flight with Condor, and also my first taste of a long-haul leisure carrier (think low-cost, but to vacation destinations). I was flying on their non-stop service from Seattle to Frankfurt. Adding to the number of firsts for me were also a new airport (Frankfurt) and my first time flying internationally out of Seattle.
The Premium Economy section in Condor’s 767
The flight was scheduled to depart mid-afternoon, which for me felt a little bit different than normal. Generally, I end up on flights departing first-thing in the morning or late in the evening. So having most of the day to relax, make final packing arrangements, and spend time with my wife was a good thing. The bad part is being prime time for international departures out of Seattle. This meant that while the line for check-in with Condor was short, even with priority access, security would be an absolute mess.
The Zodiac-manufactured seat represents Singapore’s entry to the Premium Economy space – Image: Singapore Airlines
Many of Singapore Airlines‘ Asian and European competitors have entered the premium economy market over the past five years. It’s a growing segment. This left analysts and frequent Singapore passengers wondering if it was going to as well. After all, Singapore’s economy experience has not been anything below top-notch since its creation. Recently though, the airline announced that they would indeed be offering a premium economy product.
A Singapore Airlines 777-300ER at the Boeing Everett Delivery Center
“Many of our customers have been asking for a Premium Economy offering and we are confident that what we are delivering will exceed their expectations,” said Singapore Airlines Executive Vice President Commercial, Mr. Mak Swee Wah. “The new cabin product is the culmination of two years of work, which included extensive research and focus group studies involving customers and our design partners.”
JAL Boeing 777-300ER landing in Haneda – Photo: Kentaro IEMOTO | Flickr CC
Recently, I visited Japan for the first time, and thanks to codesharing, my American Airlines ticket was for a flight operated by Japan Airlines. It’s always fun to try a new airline, and even better, I got an opportunity to fly in their Premium Economy cabin!
There’s my seat, 18A – Photo: Lauren Darnielle
Prior to boarding, I visited the Sakura Lounge at SFO, which is available to those traveling in Premium Economy – a nice benefit. It was pretty small, plain, and crowded, but I did appreciate the chance to have a little something before my flight. It was just after midnight, so at that hour, they had a selection of Japanese and American snacks along with mini sandwiches and a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. I had a glass of orange juice, a mini egg salad sandwich, and some rice crackers, which were all tasty, and then headed back to the gate.
The lounge was a bit of a walk from the gate, up an elevator, and down a hallway, but with my very short layover from Seattle, I didn’t want to hang around too long and miss my pre-arranged early boarding.