American vs Delta vs United: Travel experts put their premium economy cabins head to head


Transatlantic premium economy fares are roughly double the price of flying economy – with the former available from around £600 ($755) and the latter from around £300 ($380). But is premium economy twice as good?

Travel experts from The Points Guy UK help answer this crucial question with a fascinating video in which they trial the premium economy offerings of three of the biggest players in the transatlantic game – America’s three biggest airlines.

The video is a three-way battle between the premium economy cabins of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines on flights to the States from Dublin and London.

It’s a tale of wobbly tables, lost headphone sockets, upgraded napkins and ‘very tasty’ harissa chicken. Read on for more…

AMERICAN AIRLINES

Putting American Airlines¿ premium economy offering (above) to the test was Maren Gimnes

Putting American Airlines’ premium economy offering (above) to the test was Maren Gimnes

Maren said the food was 'lovely'

The Points Guy UK paid 53,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles plus £259 in tax for Maren's Boeing 777-200 flight from Heathrow to Charlotte Douglas International Airport

The Points Guy UK paid 53,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles plus £259 in tax for her Boeing 777-200 flight from Heathrow to Charlotte Douglas International Airport. She said the food was ‘lovely’

Putting American Airlines’ premium economy offering to the test was Maren Gimnes. The Points Guy UK paid 53,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles plus £259 ($326) in tax for her Boeing 777-200 flight from London Heathrow to Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

The ups included decent legroom and good food.

She told MailOnline Travel: ‘The legroom was very generous and the seat was comfortable with a nice leather finish.

‘I liked that the cabin was quite small, which made it feel more exclusive.

‘And the food was lovely and well presented – I got metal cutlery and a fabric napkin, which was a nice upgrade from economy.’

Maren told MailOnline: ¿The legroom was very generous and the seat was comfortable with a nice leather finish'

Maren told MailOnline: ‘The legroom was very generous and the seat was comfortable with a nice leather finish’

Maren complained that her table 'was very unstable' and the USB ports were 'not in a convenient location'

Maren complained that her table ‘was very unstable’ and the USB ports were ‘not in a convenient location’

And downsides? There were a few.

She said: ‘The table was very unstable, and I didn’t like that it folded down into the armrest as it made it hard to move around/get up without having to fold it down every time.

‘Plus, the charging points and USB ports were not in a convenient location, I paid $37 (£29) for the Wi-Fi but it didn’t work at all, and there was no fast-track security.’

DELTA AIR LINES

Putting Delta to the test was Nicky Kelvin, the head of The Points Guy UK

Putting Delta to the test was Nicky Kelvin, the head of The Points Guy UK

Nicky's ticket between Dublin and JFK cost £925.80, with the fare including a return flight from Charlotte to Paris in economy

Nicky said the ¿ups¿ included a retrofitted cabin that ¿felt very modern and fresh¿

Nicky’s ticket between Dublin and JFK cost £925.80, with the fare including a return flight from Charlotte to Paris in economy. Nicky said the ‘ups’ included a retrofitted cabin that ‘felt very modern and fresh’

Putting Delta to the test was Nicky Kelvin, the head of The Points Guy UK. 

His ticket between Dublin and John F. Kennedy International Airport on a Boeing 767-400 cost £925.80 ($1,167), with the fare including a return flight from Charlotte to Paris in economy.

Nicky said the ‘ups’ included a retrofitted cabin that ‘felt very modern and fresh’, priority check-in and security – ‘not always offered with premium economy products’ – which meant ‘a quick and smooth airport experience’, and food that was ‘fresh, tasty and plentiful’, and that included a flatbread that was ‘an interesting and welcome addition to the curry’. 

The food served in Delta premium economy was ¿fresh, tasty and plentiful'

The food served in Delta premium economy was ‘fresh, tasty and plentiful’

¿The Boeing 767 is significantly noisier than other more modern aircraft,' commented Nicky

‘The Boeing 767 is significantly noisier than other more modern aircraft,’ commented Nicky

There were, however, also downsides.

Nicky said: ‘The Boeing 767 is significantly noisier than other more modern aircraft and the premium economy cabin is close to the engines.

‘And the food felt like an upgraded economy class meal rather than a slightly less fancy business class meal. For example, there was no proper crockery.’

UNITED AIRLINES  

United¿s premium economy was trialled by Liam Spencer, with his ticket in a 767-300 between Heathrow and Newark Liberty International Airport costing $1,152 (£912), including an onward flight to Charlotte

United’s premium economy was trialled by Liam Spencer, with his ticket in a 767-300 between Heathrow and Newark Liberty International Airport costing $1,152 (£912), including an onward flight to Charlotte

¿The seat itself was incredibly comfy with a good amount of personal space,' said Liam

Liam's seat had an 'excellent depth of recline'

‘The seat itself was incredibly comfy with a good amount of personal space,’ said Liam. It also had an ‘excellent depth of recline’

United’s premium economy was trialled by Liam Spencer, with his ticket in a 767-300 between Heathrow and Newark Liberty International Airport costing $1,152 (£912), including an onward flight to Charlotte.

He said: ‘The seat itself was incredibly comfy with a good amount of personal space and excellent depth of recline. On a long-haul flight, this makes a huge difference when it comes to grabbing a few hours of sleep.

‘I was also really impressed with the size and quality of my lunch. It included harissa chicken, chickpeas, a huge side salad, bread, and delicious chocolate truffles.

‘The small cabin, meanwhile, consisting of just four rows, felt secluded, private, and peaceful.’

Liam was 'really impressed with the size and quality' of his lunch

Liam was ‘really impressed with the size and quality’ of his lunch

Liam said the downsides on his flight included the toilet facilities being shared with the economy cabin

Liam said the downsides on his flight included the toilet facilities being shared with the economy cabin

But there were a few niggles.

Liam explained: ‘The toilet facilities were shared with the much larger economy cabin, meaning they were often occupied and busy.

‘And I was disappointed not to receive a menu ahead of the meal service, and instead given a very economy-feel choice of chicken or veg. The food turned out to be very tasty and plentiful, but I would have appreciated a wider range of options.’

For more tricks and tips from The Points Guy UK visit thepointsguy.com/uk-travel and click here to see the original and full-length premium economy review video.

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